Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson: "Gone Too Soon"

"Like A Comet
Blazing 'Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night..."

(lyrics to "Gone Too Soon," a song Michael Jackson wrote for Ryan White, a young boy who passed away from AIDS, and performed at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Ball to call attention to AIDS research and the need for a cure)

I'm going to assume that none of my blog readers have been living under a rock for the past few days, and that you all know that Michael Joseph Jackson died last Thursday at the age of 50. When I heard, I must admit that I found his age (while still tragically young) to be only slightly less startling than his death.

Michael Jackson couldn't be 50. Michael Jackson couldn't be dead.

My first thoughts when I heard the news weren't of his legal and financial woes, or the increasingly bizarre spectacle his life had become over the past quarter-century or more. I thought of a well-loved and well-played cassette recording of Thriller, illegally recorded off the album by my fourth-grade classmate (I hope there's a statute of limitations for song piracy). I was already a huge fan of "Beat It," and when I saw the "Thriller" video for the first time I was both amazed and pleasantly creeped out. Our school librarian even screened the video for us in the library viewing room. A teacher showed us a tape of his performance on "Motown 25," so in retrospect I suppose it wasn't just us kids who were enthralled with Michael!

Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson's impact on the music industry, particularly on the music video industry, cannot be denied. His mark on popular culture is indelible.

The King of Pop is rightfully eulogized on the blog for Pop Culture Universe, one of our library databases. Go check it out. And while you're there, peruse some of the linked articles, from "The Modern Dance, 1977–1985" from 100 Albums that Changed Popular Music to "The Jackson Five" from Historical Dictionary of the 1970s.

RIP, Michael, and thank you for sharing your music with us. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

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