I read the news today o boy: man in the mirror is gone

michael_jacksonWhere were you when you heard the news? I was outside San Antonio, at the end of the work day, in a traffic jam and on the phone with Tracie B, who saw the lugubrious headline flash across a feed on her computer screen.

Whatever your feelings about Michael Jackson (or lack thereof), you knew his name, you knew his songs, you knew his image, and you knew how he changed the world. He was one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all time and my generation came of age with him — whether you liked his music or not. I have always loved his music and his songwriting in particular.

Last night, Tracie B and I slowly sipped Clos Roche Blanche Cabernet Franc as we listened to MJ on our Ipod and danced and sang along to all of our favorite songs. Then we watched some of the Larry King conga line freak show.

I once had a job, back when I was a grad student back in the 90s, archiving video footage of Motown artists (for Berry Gordy’s publishing company Jobete). In one interview with the young Michael Jackson, the journalist asked him how he felt about racism he encountered while touring in the South. “Sometimes you go to a movie theater,” he said, “and someone says something mean and it just ruins your whole day.”

It’s amazing to think how the world changed in the arc of Michael Jackson’s lifetime — and ours.


If they say
Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
If they say
Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
I like livin this way

8 thoughts on “I read the news today o boy: man in the mirror is gone

  1. I was on my computer around 12:30 am CEST when I read on Perez Hilton that he had a heart attack, then an hour or so later the news that MJ died. Outside there was an epic thunder/lightning show and downpour, appropriate weather for the events. I remember where I was when Diana died and when John Lennon was shot. This was one of those days. So poignant that MJ was about to make a return to his true home, the stage, and try and revive a career and get out of all that debt. We’ll never know if he would have made it through all those 50 shows in London…it’s not known what kind of physical shape he would have been in, given all those surgeries, his age, and those angular and pivoting dance moves. But it sure would have been a thrill to watch. MJ deserved the chance to redeem himself for his nearly lost two decades and get back to the MJ we’ve always loved. Gone wayyy too soon.

    • I remember so well the night John Lennon died. I know that JT knows this song: The Late Great Johnny Ace, on Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones… “and every song we played was for the late great Johnny Ace…”

      @JT and Adrian I guess that’s what’s so heavy about his passing: it marks the end of an era in our lives…

  2. It was very sad hearing all those songs back-to-back on the radio. Though his death doesn’t really change much; as far as musical relevance he’d died a long time ago – an icon living off his own legend. I absolutely loved (and still love) everything about the guy as a singer and performer, but despite the music and the moves – and everything that came with them – I still feel a twinge that his talent was somewhat wasted. Hardly prolific at his peak, there could and should have been so much more. It frustrates me when a once-in-a-lifetime talent like that isn’t put to use, and it’s a scandal that the later years of his life were nothing but a catalogue of tabloid fodder.

    PS: Yes, Larry King was especially surreal last night: Cher, Celine Dion, Corey Feldman?!

  3. One of the greatest songwriters of all time? Isn’t that overstating it just a bit?

    I don’t think the Gershwins or Johnny Mercer had any competition there. Or Carole King.

  4. I regret the loss of the King of Pop Michael Jackson! Jacko is a legend. I hope he gets where he is now, finally in peace.
    Leave also your last greeting at Michael Jackson on our site, thanks.
    a big and now sad fan

  5. the world have lost a great man, his tribute to the world are remember. iam still no have idea why press always publish bad gossip about him.

  6. Jeremy –

    Props for closing the post out with lyrics from Human Nature, one of my favorite MJ songs. Like you said, regardless of one’s thoughts on the man or his music, the fact that he was amongst the greatest musical talents of our times is indisputable.

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