THE BEGINNING

Our two pence worth on Jackson and his suddenly spotless legacy

Our two pence worth on Jackson and his suddenly spotless legacy

There are certain questions that will be put to us all at some point. Amongst them, “Do you believe in God?”, “Are you going to eat that?”, “What time do you call this?” and “Double up for an extra pound?”. None though, are more baffling – and ultimately insulting – than the recurring Beatles conundrum, “Do you think Paul McCartney wishes he’d have died instead of John Lennon?”

Everything reaches Macca’s pot-singed consciousness, so he no doubt knows that this pondering crops up whenever Lennon’s image crops up in day-to-day life. Parkinson certainly never did, but maybe someone has even run the idea past him. That wouldn’t be needed to get a definite answer now though, would it? “Do I wish I was dead?” McCartney would roar with a laugh to shake whichever of his mansions he was sitting in. “I’m the first ever billionaire pop star, a British institution and the most influential living musician of all time. I’ll take that over a bullet in the back, thank you very much.”

As romantic as it is, the ‘leave a pretty corpse’ thing, that’s been banded about since James Dean went for one last drive, is as tired and absurd as McCartney’s life surely illustrates. And while this has of course been voiced by many a sane mind before now, the recent, sudden death of Michael Jackson has reminded us of another obvious truth regarding pop icons dropping dead without warning – people aren’t mad at Macca for not dying because they never wanted to imagine him an old, weathered picture of mortality, but rather because while ‘the nice Beatle’ lives we can’t forgive ‘The Frog Chorus’, Wings and everything post-1970 in his musical career.

At forty, Lennon’s lifeless body wouldn’t have been a looker, like Morrison’s or Cobain’s, but by being snatched from us by a crazed ‘fan’ we can write off his largely shoddy solo career (which spanned a decade, much like his Beatles one) and the fact that he beat his wife and abandoned a son.

Michael Jackson’s death came as a huge shock, but it really shouldn’t have. The man who went from black to white at the price of immense surgical pain and discomfort hadn’t been looking even slightly healthy for as long as anyone can remember. His final undoing was a weak heart, putting him in the 25% of the world’s population that die of dicky tickers every year – hardly the “foul play” that Jackson abusive dad would talk of in the media following his son’s death.

But what has followed Jackson’s most definite dodge of honouring a million dates at the O2 Arena is the grandest display of selective memory from seemingly the whole world. Out went the staple Wacko jibe (I was beginning to think that was his actual name); back again was the ‘King of Pop’ mantle. “Say what you want about MJ,” goes the general consensus these day “but he was a legend of pop music.” Yes, he was. There’s no arguing that Michael Jackson changed popular music and pop culture forever. That’s safe. Whatever happens Jackson’s musical career will always have that undeniable truth. But c’mon, spare a thought for the elephant in the room – the great fucking big elephant with ‘Child Molesting’ written all over it! Lennon’s shit solo songs are one thing to sweep under the carpet but multiple charges of child abuse‚” a sudden, sad ending surely can’t cause us to forget that?

But wait! While the dismal ‘Walls And Bridges’ (if you exclude ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’) has Mr Yoko Ono banged to rights, MJ was never found guilty of the crimes he was accused of, which is of course a massive argument for the continual Jackson love-in. To his final day, by Californian State law, he was innocent. Did most of us really believe that though? I, for one, certainly wanted to. Manipulative kids with manipulative parents, taking advantage of an odd, eccentric and frail – but ultimately kind – man to make enough cash to retire on. But I can’t truly say that I was one hundred percent in Jackson’s corner when he was alive, so it feels wrong to be now. The way he’d tragically tottered around in face masks and your mad aunt’s blouses; the hushed, unsettling speaking voice; the climbing up trees halfway through TV interviews; they didn’t fill me with confidence, so like everyone else I considered ‘Wacko’ to not be an unfair nickname and him not to be a person incapable of unthinkable crimes.

Dying, it seems, remains the best career move anyone can make to preserve their legacy‚” just don’t tell Macca.

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