Michael Jackson - The Farewell

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

A huge tribute to a huge star in L.A. Here's what I liked about it.

I've stated here before I was never really a Michael Jackson fan.  For 2 hours and 40 minutes today, during the farewell tribute, we were all fans.  It was moving just to realize that he meant so much to so many.

It was sometimes over-the-top.  A golden casket carried in by his brothers, each wearing a single, sequined, silver glove.  You wouldn't do it for your grandpa's funeral, but your grandpa wasn't the King Of Pop.  For Michael Jackson, it was just right.  When Mariah Cary stood on stage, overlooking that casket, singing "I'll Be There", there was a giant picture of the young MJ on the screen behind her.  In that moment I missed that young superstar. I paused the DVR and went to youtube to hear the Jackson 5 sing the song.

We lose famous people all the time.  Politicians and heads of state are men and women we admire and respect, and it's sad to see them go.  But there's something about entertainers, especially musicians. Their work moves us, and means whatever it means to us, every time, and any time we hear it.  We're reminded of that when we lose one, and the look back at all they gave us. That's what we saw today on KKTV.

Throughout the ceremony/concert, his celebrity friends told stories about his humanity, and his family told stories about his celebrity. We learned more about the man than the musician..but we already know a lot about that.  When Jennifer Hudson sang "Will You Be There" I realized that was another wonderful song I had completely forgotten about.  When Stevie Wonder (whose talent always leaves me in awe) took the stage for " I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "They Won't Go When I Go", I realized that the best of the best recognize Jackson as the greatest. 

Brooke Shields said Micheal Jackson's favorite song wasn't one of his own huge hits, but a simple song that your parents or grandparents probably liked.  It is a beautiful old song written by Charlie Chaplin, called "Smile".  Then Jermaine Jackson sang it. It was the highlight of the event. We lost an icon, the fans lost their favorite, but he lost a brother, and a musical partner.  In that context the performance was inspired and inspiring.

Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, the man who launched the Jackson 5, called Michael Jackson the greatest entertainer who ever lived.  Was He?  Maybe not to all of us, but certainly to millions and millions.  And maybe that's enough.

At one point Queen Latifah read a wonderful poem about Michael Jackson, written by Maya Angelou.  It was called, "We Had Him." And we did, for just over half a century.  Maybe we didn't know what we had. 

It all ended with "We Are The World" and "Heal The World".  Think what you will about the messenger, but it's hard to argue with the message.

Also, if you want to hear a rare Jackson performance, search youtube for "There Must Be More To Life Than This".  It's a song written by the late great Freddie Mercury (lead singer of Queen), recorded only as a demo by Jackson and later released on a solo album by Mercury.  The Jackson version was never finished, never released.  It's rough but stunning.

We'll talk again soon.






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