Today, Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest at age 50.
As a fan (not an overly zealous one, but definitely a fan of his music and talent), I was deeply saddened to hear this news. I was texting my dad back and forth after he had gone into cardiac arrest in order to stay posted. And when he finally passed, I was trying to place just what exactly this loss meant to our generation.
Clearly, we had lost an icon. We will never be able to see him perform live in concert. There will never again be a public appearance by this controversial, but undoubtedly great, music figure.
Watching the news, thousands of fans were mourning and grieving, lining his childhood home with memorials, waving banners to demonstrate their adoration of this man.
However, I, personally, just couldn’t connect on this level. Though I was sad, I didn’t shed a single tear. I don’t think the reason was that I was too young to have grown up with Michael and thus wasn’t a big enough of fan to be that devastated. There isn’t a single musician alive today whose death I would mourn as those fans mourned Michael Jackson.
But, I was able to empathize with these people. For them, this singer was more than someone to listen to on the radio or blast his CD from their home stereo. He was an entertainer, and therefore a friend to many. He was an artist, and therefore someone people could connect to in a way that transcends the acquaintance level.
And this impact that singers, and many other artists, have on people makes me appreciate the arts even more. Though these fans most likely had never met Jackson, he kindled something inside them. Whatever it was, joy, sorrow, boogie fever, he touched the lives of millions around the world with his music. This ability was a gift, something that doesn’t come around every decade or even a lifetime. To have lost someone who had this impact on so many people is tragic.
I will never be able to see him perform live in concert, but his music will continue playing on my laptop and iPod for years to come. And I’m sure the millions of fans will be doing the same. His physical body may be gone, but his music will resonate forever.
R.I.P. Michael Jackson 1958-2009