I wrote the following post a few days ago. Now I have just finished watching the memorial service for Michael Jackson. I cannot describe what a beautiful, respectful, appropriate and spiritually uplifting event it was to watch. It went far beyond the music to his humanitarian efforts and unpublicized encounters that touched people personally. It made me want to be a better person and what better legacy can a person leave than that? At the end, a unscripted and heartbreaking moment occured when his daughter Paris went to the mic,and through her tears said ," I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you can imagine. I just wanted to say I love him very much." Some of you reading this may think it's silly to honor an entertainer this way. I've wondered the same thing. I wrote the following in an effort to explain it to myself.
I've spent the past week and a half trying to understand why I am so affected by the death of Michael Jackson. I have never felt so sad at the passing of someone I never met. Clearly, I am not alone, but it has taken me by surprise. Watching old videos, hearing the songs again, being mesmerized by the dancing - I pondered this phenomenon. The top ten selling albums last week were all Michael's. His radio play has been said to have increased 1735% countrywide. There were 2.6 million downloads of his songs in the first three days after his passing. In explaining this, a spokesman from Rolling Stone eloquently said "His music has been liberated from the eccentricities." That's it. We can go back and love the songs and be amazed at the showmanship and innovation knowing that he will no longer do anything curious or weird to distract us from his real talents.
How can one person have such an influence and impact on the world by just being an entertainer? He is, at this point, arguably the most famous celebrity in history - bigger than Elvis or Marilyn, who also both burned out too soon. For me, I realized he has been around most of my life. We are close in age and I was a preteen fan when he was a preteen singing "ABC".
But what does the word influence mean? When you can actually remember the night in 1983 when you saw the moonwalk for the first time (and there is not a lot I can remember from 1983!). When you can picture your little children dancing around the living room to "Beat It" (and they remember it too). When certain songs you hear now bring back memories. When you are still mesmerized by the seemingly un-human dance moves in a video you've seen dozens of times. When you now realize how many musical artists copy his moves from decades ago - I guess that influence. He was, in fact, a part of our lives.
So that's what I have figured out so far. It's a cultural phenomenon that I'm trying to understand. I'd be glad to hear your take on it. Meanwhile, Rest in Peace, Michael Jackson - the peace we can't even come close to here on Earth - you did what you were born to do. You used all the talents God gave you - and that 's the best thing we can do in our short lives.