When the Music (Didn’t) Die

I cried the day Lennon was shot and then spent the next two days playing all the Beatles albums I had, as loudly as possible.
I almost blew out my speakers and fired the amp playing all the Queen I had, when Freddie Mercury died.
I will take a day’s holiday when Knoffler or Springsteen or Billy Joel cross over.
I was working and continued to work when I heard of Michael Jackson’s death.
I just don’t get it! I mean, I get the fact that MJ is an iconic figure and has created waves, good or bad, throughout his career and therefore would be expected to dominate the news in the event of his death. What I don’t understand is the hype and hoopla over his music. I know I will be quartered for this blasphemy, but I am confident that I am not alone; that there are others like me out there (apart from Krishnan and Ramnath, of course!).
In the early 80s, I was already hooked into the whole Floyd, Zep, Tull, Sabbath scene. The Beatles were numero uno. For pop, it was ABBA. Also up there were S & G and CSNY. Bee Gees were somewhere in the middle, with Wham, etc at the periphery. Dylan and Clapton were icons (Dylan of course, still is). And amongst all these greats, MJ and his music just didn’t figure anywhere in our scheme of “music” things.
In fact, his name and music first wafted into my consciousness only because my parents had brought back a Sony CD player from a trip to Japan and the only CDs that a friend from the US was able to get, were “Thriller” and some Billy Ocean rubbish. This was around 1982-83 and if I wanted to show off the sound quality of the CD player, I had no choice but to play some numbers from the “Thriller” CD. To be fair, “Billie Jean” was not bad and I can remember “Beat It” as well, but that’s as far as MJ’s music goes for me; I am pretty sure that this is my loss and no one else’s!
The other reason we talked about MJ in those days, for some time, was when we saw his music videos of some of the “Thriller” numbers. There was no question that he was an outstanding dancer and like everyone else, we tried to moonwalk for a while. But even then, he never did match up to our all-time dance idol, John Travolta, whose pelvic thrusts in Saturday Night Fever had us staying up long evenings, trying to get those moves just right. After that, the only other video I found interesting was the one he did with Naomi Campbell, in which she looked sexier, but he looked prettier.
Then the last time I really listened to any of his music, was during the “great” concert in Mumbai, though “listen” is probably a euphemism, given the terrible acoustics at the back of the stadium. What I do remember most from those days though is the toilet that didn’t get flushed for a few days, after he peed in it, in the house of one of Mumbai’s famous politicians.
I take no pride in kicking the dead. And yet, I am amazed at the extent of the emotional outpouring that has occurred over the last week. The only logical explanation for my remaining untouched by all of this must be that that I am totally and fully, musically and emotionally challenged.

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