The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Michael Jackson

Bill Fleming e-mails me to clobber me on my having been quoted in the Journal and that I actually have more space there than in response to Bill's excellent post here on my own blog.


The Journal's Pat Dobbs caught me on my cell phone the day Jackson died. I was driving somewhere without benefit of forethought and Dobbs quoted me in a sidebar in the Journal's coverage of Jackson's death.

Eric Lochridge picked up the quotes on his RCJ blog, Feedback & Distortion.

Unfortunately, my comments are filled with brain fart errors that happen when one is caught on one's cell phone and comments without benefit of having facts before one.

Thriller sales are not 26 million. They're between 47 and 109 million worldwide, according to the oh-so reliable Wikipedia. They have spiked since Jackson's death.

Gene Kelly never commented on Jackson's "Billie Jean" performance at the 25th Anniversary of Motown. Fred Astaire did. I recall couching my comments with Dobbs, but they were printed as if I stated them as fact. It happens.

What matters is Jackson and his death. His "Billie Jean" perfomance remains one of the best musical performances ever recorded, in my opinion and in the opinions of many others, more astute than I.

Combine Jackson's raw talent with similar talents Quincy Jones, Barry Gordy and John Landis, and the world is left with musical experiences that will live long past any of us here. I've been asked a hundred times since his death what I think about Michael Jackson.

I believe he suffered from mental illness.
I believe his mental illness was a contributing factor in his genius
I believe the product of genius survives controversy, scandal and mental and physical challenges...Michelangelo, Mozart, Van Gogh, Monet, Beethoven, Poe, Hemingway, Woody Allen, Buster Keaton, Shalom Aleichem, J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

History does not hold accountable its artists for their crimes or their sins. Michael Jackson's art will long be remembered and his crimes and sins will be remembered only as a byproduct of his own personal torture.

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