michael jackson, 1958-2009

michael jackson

michael jackson

During a late night dinner with a friend at Ramsey’s following last night’s Dr. John concert, a waitress posed this question.

“What do you think about MJ?”

At that moment, I had no opinion. I didn’t know what she was talking about. But the omen wasn’t good. There is only one reason a server brings up Michael Jackson before even asking for your order.

Sure enough, Jackson had died hours earlier. He was 50. But since the singer spent nearly 4/5 of his life as a performing artist, he seemed much younger. Befitting his often mercurial life, no one last night could confirm the cause of death.

I respected Jackson as an artist tremendously. He also infuriated the daylights out of me. As giant as his talent was, it could never match the out-of-all-bounds persona that surrounded him. He was a genius. He was a star. He was as commanding a presence as pop music has ever known. But his fallibility seemed to be that he recognized all of those attributes before becoming obsessed with them.

Now is not the time to go into that, though. This is an honest tragedy. Whatever the cause of his death, Jackson will always be as much a victim of pop’s grandest excesses as an architect of some of its most lasting commercial hits.

More on this later.

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