When I went to bed last night having just heard that, apparently, Michael Jackson had been taken to hospital with a cardiac arrest, I did not think much of it. I thought I would yawn my way to the Mac today and would not even find a remaining line about it. This morning, it was a different story.
I spoke of his music in passing here on a couple of occasions. Once to say that music chooses you and not the other way round, and a few more times in relation to the tickets to the London O2 shows. Only a couple of weeks ago I hailed to a miracle: my date had been moved to March and then maybe I would be able to go then, because as sure as hell I couldn't go in two weeks. I needn't worry now and I feel incredibly sad, but not in that familiar way that death instills in people. No, I feel a sadness that is deeply interlinked with my own personal life and my own personal memories.
Thriller (followed by Bad) was the first album I ever bought. We were practising the Moonwalk at seven. We filled Jacko scrapbooks at ten. We discovered music because of Billie Jean. We put up school performances to his remixes. As recently as last week, I was jiving to myself with The Jackson 5 in the background. You cannot decide what music will become significant in your life; music happens to you.
To know that the purveyor of my most treasured musical memories, memories intertwined with family and friends and pets, is no longer feels unsettling, as if I opened the paper and read that Barbie had died. Now the news are awash with tributes from every dog and its uncle, the same people that loved making fun of his weirdness (easily done) and who adored the spectacle of his slow-motioned fall only a few years back. This too feels unsettling and confirms that it's better to share one's life in the company of wild animals than certain people and that anonymity is highly favourable to celebrity and success.
Besides my own significance attached to my own life, he leaves a monumental legacy to black music, to pop music and to the MTV generation. He was a magnificent choreographer and dancer, one of the most significant black icons of all times, the first to bring black and white audiences together, the top innovator in the field of music videos, the first to utilise computer generated imagery and sound in them and the first one too to blend the tradition of black soul music with the up-and-coming popularity of white funk pop music. At no point over the past thirty years have I ever heard any act that made me question whether Jacko was still the King of Pop, not even in passing. This is because innovation and originality are as important as quality sound.
But he also seemed a troubled man and hard as it is to think of death as the bringer of peace, maybe that's how it has finally worked out for him.