Judging by the first waves of remembrance, many of us still don’t know what to make of Michael Jackson. But I want to draw attention to this elegant meditation by Ann Powers, who acknowledges that confusion while keeping a clear bead on the music. This morning, just as I was about to throw something at the TV -- the Today Show, riding the tabloid angle -- Powers appeared onscreen to speak some truth.
M.J. was as big a musical force in my youth as anyone, and so far the coverage hasn’t squared with that memory. But then neither had Jackson, for a good long while. This is what we’re grappling with now, as Powers so thoughtfully explicates.
At this moment, strange as it may sound, I’m reminded of Charlie Parker, whose death in 1955 stirred up an analogous cloud of lurid comment, rampant speculation and abject pity, along with the sad, distant recollection of unequivocal musical genius.