I was checking my email this morning and the news came to me in a flashing link. I cannot say I am completely torn apart by this news but some part of me is sad and somber.
Youth born after the 80s will never really understand us 30+ people's feelings about MJ because they never lived during the heyday of his reign as the indisputable king of pop. I still remember the time when he won something like 8 Grammys and he could not really carry all those 8 golden gramaphones when he had his photo sessions. I remember his thank you speeches--all 8 of them--where he always thanked his mom and dad and God, even though his dad used to psychologically and emotionally abuse him as a kid.
MJ was a messed up boy and his scars live on in his scandals. To be honest, I never really believed he maliciously intended to do the things he did to little boys. I don't know him of course but he came across as a musical genius with a really screwed up sense of himself. The more famous he got, the more he retreated into his crazy world, Neverland and never growing up.
He is dead at 50 but he's still a boy. I was not surprised to read Quincy Jones saying he lost his "little brother" because that was exactly what MJ was for all of his life: "little" in terms of his maturity level, sense of right and wrong, ability to deal with what fame had to dish out. He may have been "big" in the biz, made "big" bucks and made "big" records that scored "big" hits but in all the most important areas of his life, he was "little" and suffered for it.
Some might disagree and think I am being too empathetic but I grew up with MJ, I listened to his records, I obssessed over his dance moves (not the crotch grabbing but the moonwalk and if you have no idea what the moonwalk is then you really must be young!) and tried to copy them without much success (heh!), I read about him in all the teen rags, I put up his poster in my room, I had a photo of him (when he still looked black and had an Afro hairdo) in my wallet, and one of my best friends in Form 5 (Rachel--wherever you are--I bet you are sad too) and I used to sing his songs in school and talk about him endlessly.
I remember sitting outside Horizon Music Store (now since defunct) in the old Jaya Supermarket (now demolished and no longer affording me the chunk of nostalgia I need to get over MJ's demise) in Section 14 and waiting an hour for the new MJ album, BAD, to be released. My parents thought I was nuts and yeah, I guess I was. I wanted to be the first to get it--first among my peers at least.
MJ was my Elvis Presley, my Beatles, my boy band, my icon-of-the-moment. And he stayed that way for decades.
Even though he changed from black to white (that song of his in the album of a similar name is eeriely prescient) and was embroiled in a whole host of crazy scandals, even though he got married and divorced and was disparaged in the media, even though he probably died alone and unloved, MJ will always have a special place in my heart because he is emblematic of a time in my youth which is now long past.
People my age are always nostalgic. MJ fuels that in spades. Rest in peace bro.