Two weeks ago, the news didn't just break; it exploded. Michael Jackson died. As I would have at the news of the passage of a classmate I'd been on good terms with, but not close to, a small wave of sadness passed over me.
The first question in an unexpected demise: what happened? Cardiac arrest, yes, but what mechanisim triggered it? Evidence suggests the involvement of prescription drugs, with sources making reference to needlemarked arms and authorities in California invesitgating five doctors. We wait for the results of the autopsy, not expected for another two to four weeks.
In the meantime, we have otherwise credible news sources prying details from the woodwork along with the ubiquitous hanger-oners with forks in hand ready to get their perceived share of the pie. Do we really need to know on a nightly basis how much the casket cost, or other trivial information for the obsessed? No. I questioned the need, except for the obvious chase for the almighty dollar at Michael's expense, to have the funeral televised? But for the last two weeks, specials and tributes have aired, and aspects of the saga have hijacked network news. I don't think so.
What seems to be lost in all of this is that another artist became enslaved by the system that is the mainstream music business, and the twin jailers of isolation and loneliness that no one talks about took his life. Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and on goes the list of performers who found out through bitter exerience that the top is a lonely place, indeed, even though a luxurious one.
Michael was, like the rest of us, a survivor of a tough childhood, and more than anything wanted to love and be loved for who he was as a person, and not for the glitter illuminated by the light of his talent. The glow of his being--a caring father, someone who treated a group of homeless people to pizza one rainy night in London--was unfairly overshadowed by the focus on his controversial behavior and bad choices. He leaves behind a legacy of songs that bring smiles to many faces.
Godspeed, Michael, Godspeed.