michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 15)
such a range of emotions have happened today, teacher...
people are still telling me, to this day, that they've thought of me when they heard the news of your transcendence. it has been two weeks and still, people have been reaching out. i went to the post office, and of COURSE i go in there and your voice comes over the speaker... "can you rememberrrrrr/ when we were babiessss"... do you remember this song? do you remember how they had you take it a notch down in age, from the original delphonics song? i just sighed to myself and pondered at this seemingly never-ending reminder of my feelings. i go to the counter (where one of my favourite postmen happens to be) and what did he tell me? "i thought about you when it happened..." he said he told people he knew i was going crazy. something to that effect.
i go to work soon after, and people told me the same thing- that they thought of me when... there really isn't too much to say to that. as i said to you, i really have no true words to describe how i am feeling. the words i write are merely just modes of compromise, so someone else who reads this may understand a common language of grief surrounding all that has happened.
i am at work and my co-worker turns off whatever music is playing, and pops in a cassette of 'thriller'. before he does this he says, 'oh! i brought something for you.' i have listened to your music in bits since all this has happened, obviously; but i have not listened to a whole album of yours in a while. initially, it was difficult to hear the anthemic nature of the opening song (which i usually love to sing and dance along to)- i could not reach past my sadness. listening to 'wanna be startin' somethin'' registered new feelings in me i could not comprehend. it was no longer excitement. i began to sense the anger in your voice. i began to sense the anger in a lot of your songs being played on this cassette. the anger, and the desperation.
i began to think more about the process in which this album was made: how it was recorded and the narratives surrounding this. how the album was done and ready to ship, and then you were not satisfied with the outcome, so you called it all off, and gave it a second life. your intuition was right, and you created history. i began to think more about the process, and i stood there working, listening to the melodies emanating from the speakers; and i found a whole new beauty in the album.
i'm going to be honest with you again, teacher (it's not like i've ever lied to you though): 'thriller' was never one of my favourite albums of yours. i mean, i LIKED it but i found your later work to be so much more politically and sonically compelling. to me, HIStory was your artistic moment of truth. i love your dablings in classical music. i love the transparency of your anger and your vulnerability on the later albums, as well as 'off the wall', and even the 'destiny' album you recorded with your brothers. listening to 'thriller' over time, i never sensed the same kind of truth coming out of there, except for a couple of tracks. the older i got, the more i actually liked the album. the arrangements were impeccable, and perfect for the time it was recorded. but in a funny way it also was ahead of its time. it was taking old-school recording methods into a new social landscape. it would be the beginning of utilizing many more technological/media tools into one's art. the album did so well because people were seemingly hungry for that.
but i just surrendered and listened... and i found a beauty in the album that i had never heard before. i cannot explain this in words, teacher. but i realized that i finally GOT it.
the day moves on, and i just ponder in between conversations... i arrive home after work and i look at one of the many magazines that have memorialized you... earlier in the day i commented on how many factual errors were in the magazine (most of the errors so far being photos- i mean, they even said that an IMPERSONATOR was you!!! i haven't read the whole thing yet. i am afraid). but i just looked at it, to take it all in.
i looked through the section called 'the world mourns'; and i did something i haven't done in a few days: i cried. i though that part was over, but apparently not. even though i feel i have acknowledged and accepted your transcendence, it is still very hard to deal with. i shared the pain of so many others around the world... i thought about how many people you've reached, and it made me cry. i am still feeling so heavy, teacher...
i am going to an event tomorrow where your music will be played. i really don't know if i will be emotionally able to deal with that, but i'm gonna give it a try. for you, for me, and for all the people in the world feeling this pain. if i cry tomorrow, just know that my heart is in a place of love and respect for you.