“Life’s a bitch and then you die.”
I remember this being a big phrase back in the day. It even made its way onto a few bumper stickers and t-shirts. As a kid you laughed… You didn’t even remotely get the deep truth behind it. It just sounded funny.
We all want life to be grand, to be majestic, to be beautiful and blissful… That is what we strive for… but sometimes… life is a bitch, and then you die.
This last trip home to Jersey made me feel very mortal. I was going through a class yearbook with an old friend of mine, and we were looking at classmates who had died.
I felt very unaccomplished, very unsatisfied, very much behind the eight ball. I suppose the grey hairs in my sideburns and eyebrows and the newly formed gut did not help matters, but still…
All that was probably in my brain as I watched This Is It, the Michael Jackson rehearsal/concert film, as an overwhelming sense of sadness enveloped me for almost the whole time. Now most of the sadness was for Michael, of course. It’s hard to not think about what might have been, what could have been and what should have been.
This would have been an amazing set of shows and tour… It would have totally put him back at the top, I’m sure. And while I could occasionally get caught up in the magic and the joy of music and dance and just let go, and while I know there was a smile on my face during many of the numbers, it always lead me to lean forward, put my head in my hands and ponder… really ponder. What if…
What if there was no controversy? What if there were no drugs? What if Michael did not surround himself by those who said yes when they should have said no? What if he had lived?
No matter what you say about Michael Jackson, his life will always be looked at from many different angles… It will always be complicated and pure… innocent and tainted. But there is one thing for certain… all he really wanted to do was to bring love and joy to the world through music and dance. This tour may have just done that. It would have been about the utter bliss of sounds moving through the human throat and out the human mouth… about watching a body embrace those sounds and images and move to them… in ways one could only dream of.
Watching Michael move and dance is like watching a dream.
It would have been about the earth and calling attention to the damage that we are doing to her. This is a message that gets lost lately. When all we talk about is war and an economic melt down, it’s hard to talk about much else. But we are slowly destroying the earth and our future along with it… and global warming is only a small part of that.
Michael wanted us to know that we can do something about that… all of us can do something. It starts with one voice… then two… then a chorus of people singing and shouting and acting.
This is what music meant to Michael. Love and action… taking positive action.
And so there will always be the duality… or plurality when listening to Michael’s music… Just as there is, for me at least, when I listen to Buddy Holly or George Harrison or John Lennon. I can get caught up in the bliss… get caught up in the joy… get enveloped by the music… but my brain always wanders to the other stuff… to the what if…
Does that make me a Rock n’ Roll pessimist? Perhaps… But I’m really trying to look at the album as all full… or at least half. I’m trying…
So… Long live Rock!