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Where There is Love, I’ll Be There

On June 25th, 2009 my mom, dad and sister were victims of a home invasion.  And Michael Jackson died.  It was a horrible day. 

While sleeping at night a huge crash was heard in the house my mom and dad rented in Tucson, Arizona.  It was the shattering of the back patio doors in an otherwise relatively quiet neighborhood.  A gang of young Mexican-American men violently broke in and began ransacking the place.  My mother who had dementia did not wake through the whole ordeal. Praise be to that!  There were 5 of them carrying rifles. They came busting into my mom and dad’s room.  Hard of hearing and startled, my dad went to reach for his gun in the nightstand and one guy knocked him on the head with the butt of his long rifle. Thank goodness my dad fell back onto the bed and not on the floor.  My sister in the other room who has better hearing and who also carried a gun was slowing inching her way to it under her pillow when she was also intercepted by a large assailant. They took all the money she had with her for her month long visit along with a few other items of little value. My sister tells the story that makes me appreciate my dad in such a frightening situation.  She says she was cringing in the other room listening to them speak with my dad unable to move because the big one had a gun pointed to her head. Scared for their lives, she hears my dad in the the next room say. ‘What do you guys want anyway? in his most annoyed, grouchy, scolding, old Mexican ’70’s dad voice.  But it wasn’t funny then at all, they could have been shot. My dad may have saw them as punks. He’s fought in a war. But times are different now. They might of had the wrong house, possibly this was an old drug dealers rental, one of the cops told them later. No one knows for sure why they came so violently.  But they could have all died that night and the date will forever be etched in our brains.   

This was 10 years ago.  My parents were 85.  What my sister and dad went through emotionally, will never go away.  I can only imagine but when I do, my heart sinks so far down that I just feel sick.  I was so happy they were alive and no one was hurt but I knew this is not something a person gets over.  They never found the thieves and I doubt they even looked.  They spoke perfect English so my sister knew they were not illegals. 

Michael Jackson died that day and a shot to the heart was felt around the world.  It was like a bad dream and so hard to believe.  I hoped it was untrue but then it was all confirmed by the constant rerunning of the scene on the news.  It felt like a family member.  

After airing the controversial Leaving Neverland shockumentary where two men accuse him of unspeakable acts, many people don’t know where to put Michael in their hearts.  And I wasn’t sure where to put all the hurt and anger those same people were causing me to feel. As with the invasion, I was unable to protect what’s sacred to me. I will never condone the methods used in this terrible HBO debacle for anyone.

But today I will be celebrating Michael’s music all day, remembering the beautiful gifts he gave us and his legacy that can never be erased. The moment I put on Never Can Say Goodbye or Who’s Lovin’ You I am taken immediately to that enchanted place that makes my heart jump and sing.  I can’t help be filled with a joyful anticipation of a world where these sounds are possible.  Before creating his own unique voice, Michael’s pure delivery of these early songs created magic that will never die.    

I believe it’s very important to honor all his good acts, to remember him for his incredible accomplishments, the amount of records he and his brother’s set, the quality of music they achieved. The timing and importance of his body of work should never be tempered. It’s insurmountable.  The music of Michael Jackson and his brothers enriched my life so much and was so influential to so many.  His music is woven into the fabric of our experiences.  And I would never want to eliminate any of that.

In the very unlikely case that they someday find he was capable of these heinous acts, I will only treasure the songs even more. I will try to learn how this young boy who sang so beautifully could have been so damaged.  Feeling compassion instead of hatred for a ghost is a healthier notion, don’t you think?   But I really don’t believe we’ll ever get there.  The people that know his past and these questionable characters involved in this film are only holding tighter to his legacy for him, his family, the black community, musical facts and simply American history.  It is much more likely to me that this is part of a much larger movement to strip his estate and if you are following the facts you will surely find more evidence in that direction.  

But through all of these recent types of ordeals, what reveals itself most is our complete lack of empathy and understanding of how art is formed. It shows our love is so unrealistic and conditional. That so many believe they are fit to judge anyone or that it’s within our rights beyond a jury situation.  We need to accept our artists and actors are regular humans and stop putting them on such ridiculous pedestals. People are complicated beings and nothing is black or white. But regardless of how you feel about the person, trying to take away their positive artistic contributions after uncovering a glitch in their personal lives is counterproductive. That is especially evident in this case where Michael is dead and clearly suffered his own demons throughout his entire life.  

Perhaps because I could have lost my own very important but imperfect people that I love the most on this day, I do choose to honor the man and recognize his music by playing it loud and proud while sending up heaps of glorious thank you’s.  I will always remember Michael with so much admiration for giving us this vat of amazing music, and to the little boy who worked so hard to please the world and for the songs that make my heart burst with joy. I send up gratitude to the whole Jackson family today. 

My Top 10 vocals and grooves of Michael Jackson:

  1. Who’s Loving You
  2. Never Can Say Goodbye
  3. I Wanna Be Where You Are
  4. Got to Be There
  5. The Love You Save
  6. I Want You Back 
  7. I’ll Be There
  8. Enjoy Yourself
  9. Lovely One
  10. Dancing Machine

Honorable Mentions:

-Maybe Tomorrow (so tender)

-Ben (I too loved a pet rat)

-Show You the Way to Go

-I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

-Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough (life changing intro, for the timing and importance)

-The Girl is Mine

-Shake Your Body Down to the Ground

-Mama’s Pearl

Memorable Covers:

-La la (Means I Love You) – The Delfonics…I mean really. It’s a little strained but can you even imagine your child self attempting this song??? And it’s one of my all time favorites.  

-Ain’t No Sunshine – The Bill Withers cover.  I believe him! Where does he get his emotion?  It’s surely a gift from the gods! 

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