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Last Thursday I received one of the biggest shocks of my life when I read on the internet that Michael Jackson had just been declared deceased. Perhaps everyone is as shocked as I am but I immediately stopped what I was doing and Binged him only to find that all the garbage that had been written about him for the past ten years or so was up on the top pages ready to assault my sensibilities and better nature. It was only the next day that I started to see any thing about his legacy and contribution to the music world and how people were mourning him and celebrating him as well. That night I watched BBC News on TV just to see the vigil outside the hospital he’d been taken to earlier that day inundated with people singing his songs, carrying candles and there were even merchandisers trying to sell quickly made up T-shirts.
I think of Michael Jackson as a part of my personal music landscape as much as any other great artist and many people don’t know how well-rounded he was as a musician and dance artist. He’s legendary and yet unknown to the populace today because they don’t seem to regard any history whether cultural, religious, political etc.
Back in December of 2007 Michael gave a set of interviews to Ebony Magazine regarding his past and his future. At that point, his compilation HIStory had sold 104 million copies- a set of CDs I have listened to, often, for many years now. I want to share some of those words (many in his own words) with you in this entry so that everyone can understand what his impact was and to dispel all the garbage written and said about him regarding his personal life. These are only direct quotes or text from the two articles that appeared in that issue and are meant to discredit many pieces of misinformation and out-and-out lies written about him on the internet and tabloids.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the real Michael Joseph Jackson:
(The following content is partial but unaltered. Key points and Michael’s own words are underlined.)
In his first U.S. Magazine interview and cover story in a decade, the King of Pop sat down in the N.Y.C. hotel suite and offered a rare look into the life of an icon. The grown up father of three reveals a confident, controlled and mature man who has a lot of creativity left inside him. The commander of a multimillion-dollar empire and arguably the single-most talented entertainer of a generation has not spoken publicly since his 2005 trial and acquittal. But today, he reflects on Thriller and the struggle that put him on the world stage, and wonders aloud, where did the time go?
(This is his seventh solo Ebony cover; he also had five Ebony covers with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5, the first one in 1970.)
Thriller debuted on November 30, 1982 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high of 1,065.49…shattered nearly every industry record on the planet.
An international star since he was 6 years old. While most kids were watching Scooby-Doo, Michael was choreographing the patented stage moves for himself and his brothers, the Jackson 5.
"In some ways, Michael was like a child. And in some ways, he was very sophisticated," remembers Walter Yetnikoff, then head of CBS records. "He was a very smart businessman, would read contracts as good as lawyers could. But in some ways, back then, he was like a baby."
"I used to not even look at people when they were talking to me."
His musical genius and influence still dominate the music world, 25 years after Thriller came out and went on to become the best-selling album of all time- selling more than 104 million copies worldwide, 54 million copies in the U.S. , and spawning no less than seven Top 10 hits and two No. 1 singles.
With nearly a dozen solo albums, and more than a dozen #1 singles, 13 Grammys and more than 750 million records sold worldwide in his career to date, Michael is humble about and proud of his influence on music history and the current music scene.
"I always want to do music that influences and inspires each generation," he says, "Let’s face it, who wants mortality? You want what you create to live, and I give my all in my work because I want it to live."
"…magic has to happen. .. It’s science."
"That is why to escape death, I attempt to bind my soul to my work… that’s how I feel. I give my all to my work. I want it to just live."
In 1983 Jackson shattered an unwritten color barrier on MTV.
"They came right out and said it- they wouldn’t play my music. It broke my heart," Jackson says now.
Les Garland, co-founder and originator of MTV, VH1 and The Box told Jet in 2006 that the story was a "myth". There was never any hesitation. No fret. I called Bob [Pittman] to tell him, ‘I just saw the greatest video I’ve ever seen in my life [Billie Jean]. It is off the dial it’s so good’ .
He [Bob Pittman] added it that day.
"The reality of it was that Michael and MTV rode each other to glory," says [Quincy] Jones. "The 80s were ours."
"If only they could give this stuff some more entertainment value, more story, a little more dance, I’m sure people would love it more."… "So that’s when I started to experiment with Thriller, The Way You Make Me Feel, Bad and Smooth Criminal and directing and writing."
Yetnikoff estimates the album (Thriller) was responsible for more than $500 million to $1 billion for the company. "At one point, we were selling about a million records a week!" Yetnikoff says that Michael and Thriller made his own career, too. "I owe this guy," he says. "HE may think he owes me, but it is pretty clear that I owe him." [when asked about today’s music Yetnikoff said] " I don’t think people are being as experimental and innovative enough."
Jackson is a product of diverse creative forces, from Bach to Bo Diddley.
"Classical music, in truth, is really my real first love," Jackson reveals, and then adds "that, and real Southern ‘gutbucket’, as my uncle calls it; you feel it in your backbone."
For him it’s all about the melody and he does a rough "template" of all his songs.
"Getting the character of the riff like you want it takes a lot of work and a lot of time."
"…sometimes you feel like something’s coming, a gestation, almost like a pregnancy or something. You get emotional, and you start to feel something gestating and, magic, there it is! It ‘s an explosion of something that’s so beautiful, you go , WOW! There it is. That’s how it works through you. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a universe of where you can go, with those 12 notes…"
"I’ll go to the next step if it sounds good in my head."
" I direct and edit everything I do."
"Smelly [ a nickname Quincy Jones gave to Jackson], let the song talk to you. If a song needs strings, it will tell you. Get out of the way and leave room so that God can walk in."
"…you couldn’t get me to swear. So I would say, ‘That’s a "smelly" song’ That would mean, ‘It’s so great’ that you’re engrossed in it. So he would call me "Smelly.’ "
"I get on my knees and say thank you. Thank you, Jehovah."
(On the Music Industry)
"The industry is at a crossroads. … I think the internet kind of threw everybody for a real loop… The whole world is at their fingertips, on their lap. Anything they want to know, anyone they want to communicate with, any music, any movies… There’s not a real musical revolution going on right now, either…. before Thriller,… people were not buying music."
" Some of the most ingenious ideas come from everyday people."
"It takes years to become a great entertainer."
"I got to see Songs in the Key of Life get made."
(His world view)
"I’m very concerned about global warming. That’s what I was trying to do with Earth Song."
(About media and the tabloids)
"I don’t pay attention to that. In my opinion, it’s ignorance. Every neighborhood has the guy who you don’t see, so you gossip about him. I’m just about wanting to do wonderful music.
(About his talent)
"…a little child…backstage…looked at me, and he said, "Who taught you to move like that?’ [Laughter] …I said, "I guess God…and rehearsal.’"
On August 29 of next year (meaning 2008, Evelyn’s note) Michael Jackson will be 50. He admits that, while still in excellent shape- he doesn’t have any special diet and rarely works out ( ? ) and more creative than ever, he is a different man than he was at twenty-four.
" I always had this tug at the back of my head, the things I wanted to do, to raise children, have children. I’m enjoying it very much."
He seems to have a great sense of self-control but like any great star he’s like an enigma to many people. But underneath all of that he is devoted to [his family]. In all that he’s a Jackson.
Will Michael Jackson still be moonwalking at 80 ? No, he says, sternly. He doesn’t want to grow old doing concert after concert, (!) flying from mega stadium to the next. He just doesn’t want to go out like that.
"Not the way James Brown did or Jackie Wilson did," he says. "They just kept going, running, killing themselves. In my opinion, I wish [Brown] could have slowed down and relaxed and enjoyed his hard work."
Michael has other plans for his next 25 years.
"More in film, not on stage. I see myself more productive in film, and directing, and directing myself in film. Not so much [on stage] all over the world. Because [on stage] you’re not capturing anything-it’s fleeting. A concert is the most fleeting thing in the world. It’s excellent to look at, but you can’t capture it. With film you stop time."
For Michael Jackson time has never stopped. ( ? ) With each year, each challenge, each child and each success, he grows a little bit wiser.
Michael Jackson has met the man in the mirror and he likes him.
This entry contains excerpts from two articles
one by Joy T. Bennet & also Bryan Monroe for Ebony Magazine
There are two ways to slice easily through life;
to believe everything or to doubt everything.
Both ways save us from thinking.
-Alfred Korzybski (Polish-American linguist) 1879-1950