Remembering the latest king

Posted By on June 26, 2009

When I called Michael Jackson a has-been on my Facebook page, some people were pissed. All I meant was that since the mid-’90s, the most interesting thing about Jackson, who died June 25, was his dysfunction. Weird-looking, for sure; mysterious and shape-shifting psychologically and otherwise. The child molestation charges he was cleared of, the marriages that didn’t work, the kids in the shadows, the hassles with his family are what grabbed us from the mid-‘90s on more than his music, though that lasts, and the best of it is as good as pop gets.

It seems that when you call an icon a has-been—you could argue that that was true of Elvis after his initial burst in the mid-‘50s, and of the solo careers of Beatles Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and, particularly, the lightweight, charming Ringo—you threaten people’s memories. I remember dancing to Michael Jackson; how couldn’t you? I remember being a kid intoxicated by Elvis, and as a young man dancing and romancing to the Beatles. I even recall being moved by U2, whose inspirations have seemed largely formulaic for the past 15 years. Just because a band is still commercial doesn’t make it creative.

Michael Jackson will rule the news for about a week—tomorrow’s papers are sure to feature lengthy, heady editorial about his meaning—and then return to the tabloids, his natural home these past 15-plus years. Now, when I think of him, I think of his genius, his moves, his singular spirit. Too bad that’s clouded by the soap opera he generated that defined, and then ended, his life.


Leave a Reply

About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: