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Michael Jackson, 1958-2009


I am very surprised to hear of Michael Jackson’s passing. Jackson, who had heart problems and was trying to make a comeback amidst financial insolvency, apparently died from cardiac arrest.

His enigmatic personal life notwithstanding, he no doubt made a tremendous impact on music. His 1982 album, Thriller, is the number-one selling album of all time.

It amazes me how a man behind such a successful album (not to mention other albums like Off the Wall and Bad could leave behind an estate that, by many accounts, is flat broke. I’m 36, and I suspect that when I’m 50 his estate will probably still be in legal dispute.

Yes, I liked a few of his songs and remember how in grade school, Thriller (along with Van Halen’s 1984 album) was the album to have. I often think his outlandish behavior in the past 15 or so years came from never having had a childhood due to his performing with the Jackson 5.

And, of course, Jackson did do something that shows how nice a guy he was: twice he gave his blessing for “Weird Al” Yankovic to parody his songs. “Beat It” became “Eat It” and “Bad” became “Fat”. Weird Al even released an album spoofing Jackson’s Bad album, titled Even Worse. It shows that Jackson had something that neither Prince nor Eminem* have: a self-deprecating sense of humor.

There will be a period of mourning, despite all the controversy surrounding the accusations of child molestation on his part. Down the road, I suspect we’ll start learning far more about his personal life than we cared to know.

* I’ve never understood why Eminem, who spoofs people all the time in his songs and videos, can’t handle others spoofing him.

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