I join with the legions who are mourning the death of Michael Jackson today. As Neil Diamond would have written–and will likely add to his stage version of the song–Michael is “Done Too Soon.”
His was a genius that went unmatched when he was in his prime. And his was also a story umatched in his–to use the word that so many media outlets are using today–eccentricities.
One shame of it all was that he had more to accomplish. If much of his eccentric life was a compensation for the childhood he never had, then what if he was just ready to come out of adolescence now? What might he have accomplished in his golden years? The mentoring of young talent? Choreography at the next level, even if he couldn’t do it himself? The launching of new music genres? All could have been within his realm and resources. So that is a shame and a loss.
I think the most unfortunate thing about his passing at this time is that so many people–especially anybody under 35 or so–remember him not for the musical genius he was but rather as the curious icon he was. He’s has been known more for goofy wardrobes, embarrassing legal troubles, curious looks, and a nickname as “The King of Pop.” Too many young people know the “King of Pop” the same way I knew of, say, Frank Sinatra, having never saw him in his prime.
One suggestion to pass on: the VH1 Classic Channel is showing continuous stream of Michael Jackson videos today. From when he was young. From when he was on the rise. Not just the “Jackson 5” stuff from when he was a kid (which the networks have so much of in their vaults), but everything from “Billie Jean” to “Dirty Diana” to “Man in the Mirror” to “Remember the Time” to the one that I think was even better than “Thriller”: “Smooth Criminal (Version 2).”
Watching Michael at his height is so much more inspiring than the endless news and commentary that will permeate this coming weekend. His music was his genius. His eccentricities were a never-ending media story that caused much of the stress that may have taken his life.