The Thriller’s Gone
The icons of my childhood are going fast, it seems. Ed McMahon on Tuesday. Farrah Fawcett this morning. And this evening, the King of Pop.
I can’t say I was a die-hard Michael Jackson fan, but his music was the music of my youth, from the perfectly crafted pop confections of “ABC” and “I Want You Back” with the Jackson Five, to such towering works as 1982′s “Thriller” and ’87′s “Bad.” There was no disputing his enormous talent and riveting showmanship — music that proved to be terrific enough to withstand the ugliness that dogged him with charges of child molestation.
What surprises me now is how sad I find myself as I watch the canonization of Michael Jackson unfold on cable news. His impact on music was, and remains, monumental. Jackson was an artist of the highest caliber, and he ranks alongside Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the influence he wielded on popular culture.
As a human being, however, the assessment isn’t so clear-cut. Being charitable, it is fair to say he was awfully eccentric. But it doesn’t take a licensed psychologist to suggest that Jackson’s own troubled childhood — from an abusive father to obscenely early superstardom — likely spurred some of his problems later in life.
He lost his own youth, and in so doing, enriched the youth of untold millions of others.
And it goes without saying that Jackson, who would have been 51 in August, was far too young to die.
RIP, Michael Jackson.
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