The Life and Death of Michael Jackson – Why Do We Care So Much?

by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website

Anytime the name Michael Jackson hits the news, it has a way of pushing everything else completely into the background. And the news of his untimely death did more than push other news back. It completely shocked generations of people, from those who weren’t even born when Thriller was created, to the most elderly, no matter what their musical preferences.

And how is it that at a time when the Iranian “election” (I use the term loosely), North Korean nuclear ambitions and the economy has gripped the world, the death of a pop music icon could push all of that off the front pages? Does this say something about our skewed priorities?

Michael Jackson has been the flag-bearer of the music of at least two generations. For those in their 50s and 60s, Jackson is the 10-year-old superkid, lead singer of the Jackson 5, belting out hits like “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.” For 30 to 40-year-olds, the superkid became Superman, with “Thriller”, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. For anyone older or younger, even if it wasn’t their music, it was and is impossible to not to acknowledge that Jackson was different – greater than most. A true genius.

But does that really answer the question? Why do we care so much about our entertainment industry icons?

Part of the reason is that what Jackson, and all other super-performers do, is claim our emotional soul with their art. They don’t just appeal to our sense of aesthetics. They appeal to our heart, on a much more primitive level than aesthetics. Their music grabs us at a time in our lives (usually the teen years) when music is about all that can really describe our messed-up emotions. And the death of an icon like Jackson, for that reason, becomes psychologically hard to accept. For many of us, the death of a musical genius scares us, because it reminds us that even Superman dies.

Amongst the sadness generated by the loss of a musician like Michael Jackson, we can at least find solace in the fact that his music lives on. And that’s the thing to remember: creators of art will die, but the art they create is immortal. I truly believe that in 500 years, historians will still be discussing the genius of Michael Jackson. His music will live on.

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  1. Don’t forget, long before Michael Jackson, there was a hero from Gary, Indiana: William Arthur Rugh. Rugh gave his skin to the young girl, but he came to a quick demise. Rugh’s ancestry came from Switzerland and France. Well done, Billy. Rest in peace.

  2. I believe he was a loving and caring person who truely loved his children…the way he died was very sad. I pray that his family to recieve the strength from god and no matter what happens keep trusting God because he is who gives us peace, joy, and happiness. He fights our battles…he understands us…he knows our thoughts and hearts. When we pray to him with faith beliving he answer us…if we are faithful to him.He desires us to continually speak to him and believe him. Without faith it impossible to please God. He is powerful. bless family…we should always be prepared, serving god that way when its our time to part…we know where we will go…to heaven.

  3. I stayed home from work yesterday because I felt like I needed to watch Michael’s memorial and mourn. I sat in my room by myself with my box of kleenex. As the memorial moved along my heart ached for Michael Jackson’s family, friends and his fans. Somehow, even though I was alone I felt like I was a part of a special group and we were all hurting together.

    If someone could have seen me they would have thought I was a crazy person. I was sitting in front of a television crying for someone I never really knew. I’m 42 and have enjoyed Michael’s music for many years. But until Michael’s death I didn’t realize how much I cared for him. When I heard the news of his death tears streamed down my face before I realized I was crying. His impact on my life was deeper than I thought!

    Somehow this one person, I never met and never knew- somehow this amazing being touched my soul!

    “We Had Him” Thank you Maya!
    Thank you CNN for great coverage!
    Thank you Jackson family for sharing your son.
    Thank you Jackson family for realizing how much Michael’s fans loved him and allowing us to say goodbye.
    Most of all-
    Thank you Jackson family for letting us realize that Michael was human.

    Washington State

  4. I grew up to watch Micheal singing ‘i love you daddy, you are my hero…’ he is what we love and truly we are missing him ‘bad’ly’

  5. I totally agree that Michael Jackson’s music connected with the emotional souls of many individuals. His lyrics were inspirational and addressed many global issues of racism and poverty. It’s not surprising that Jackson’s death is receiving tons of media coverage and pushing other stories to the “back of the bus.” Michael was more than a musical genius, he was an humanitarian who made many contributions to impowering the world. Through his music and involvement in third world countries, MJ’s courageous soul will live on!

    • I so agree with you. I grew up in his time on the other side of the globe listening to his music long before I moved to The US. I remember vividly how his music made me feel at the time, how it lifted up my spirit. And everytime I hear such songs I know how much those songs touch my heart and soul and my being. Michael Jackson binded his soul with his work and that is why his music so easily touched by millions. Thanks to the media for giving him the tribute he deserves and to those who have a heart to love and cherish a precious human being like Michael Jackson!!!.

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