June 26, 2009

Goodbye Billy Jean

What a sucky day that was yesterday. Apart from annoying news at my RL job that sort of overshadowed my whole day, the news yesterday evening was that Farrah Fawcett finally lost her battle against cancer, and a person I never managed to get to know well enough (Sophrosyne Steenvag) left SL. And when I woke up this morning, I heard Michael Jackson has died as well.

Emerald Wynn shares her teenage memories of Michael Jackson in a - for me - very moving blogpost. From past posts I know that Em and I are about the same age. And while she grew up in the US and I grew up in Europe, our teenage days were to a certain extent similar.

I was an introvert young boy, castaway on the countryside while all my schoolmates lived in the city. Artists like Mike Oldfield, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream opened my ears, my soul and my heart for the beauty of contemporary music. And then came Michael Jackson. I remember listening to my favourite radio station when I heard "Billy Jean" for the first time. My radio had a tape recorder included, and usually it always held a fresh cassette for impromptu recordings. "Billy Jean" played, and after the first seconds of mesmerized shock, I feverishly pushed the "record" button only to find that no tape was inserted. Like crazy I digged through my tapes and finally jammed one in and pushed record, only to get the last 30 or 45 seconds of the song, which I then played over and over again. A week later, I took all my allowance to the record shop and bought the vinyl - it must have been my first, I did not even have a record player.

Years later I learned about the "Jackson 5", saw video recordings of their performances, saw a cute Michael Jackson, black, with curly hair. Even more years later I heard about the over ambitious father, about the beatings, about the cruel regime Michael Jackson had to endure. From an artistic point of view, we got estranged. My tastes broadened and refined in certain areas, Jacksons music became too bland for me often. "History" or "Him" were albums that gave me nothing - "Thriller" is in fact the only record I ever bought of him.

Jackson is a prime example that money alone does not make happy. I am not a psychoanalyst, but it seems obvious that Michal Jackson tried to compensate for a lost childhood at all cost, and that he also wanted to prove himself to his father. I think Michael Jackson was a very sad, a very unhappy, and in many aspects a very poor person. He chased a dream but never got it right. Did he molest children? Maybe, maybe not. When huge sums of money are involved, the truth is hard to find, and many own agendas are in play. From a strictly legal point of view he probably has. From a factual point of view he probably has not. From a psychiatric point of view I tend to think he was a child himself. A tragic Peter Pan.

I hope he finds peace now.

My friend Kitty O'Toole has shared her impressions as well on her RL blog.
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