Jun 26, 2009
The passing of Michael Jackson yesterday at the age of 50 leaves decidely mixed emotion. First, given that my 50th birthday looms ahead this Fall, an increased sense of mortality hits me. Next, a sense of relief that a tortured soul may finally have been given some measure of rest.
It's not easy to separate the public persona and acts performed by an artist from his work, but in considering Michael Jackson, I think its imperative. Poets like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound (and I am NOT comparing their work to Jacko's in any way) were a blatant anti-semite and fascist supporter, respectively, and yet their art will live forever and holds a special place in my heart. So I would prefer to remember his prepubescent enthusiasm and his days as a moonwalking megastar to the horrors of the last fifteen years, when he became a world-wide punchline and then, pariah.
The writer Greil Marcus used a quote from a William Carlos William poem in reference to Elvis Presley that I think serves Jackson well - "The pure products of America go crazy." An appropriate epitaph.
A Jazz Salute to Michael Jackson includes the following songs associated with the Jackson Five or Jackson's solo career:
Charles Earland - "Never Can Say Goodbye" from Funk Fantastique.
Lou Donaldson - "I'll Be There" from Cosmos.
Ramsey Lewis - "She's Out of My Life" from Three Piece Suite.
Miles Davis - "Human Nature" from The Complete Miles Davis at Montreaux.
Stanley Jordan - "Lady In My Life" from Stolen Moments.
Susan Wong - "Billie Jean" from 511.