“I don’t get it,” I told her while stepping over some rocks. “Michael Jackson is contradicting himself. He sings that ‘it don’t matter if you’re black or white,’ yet he must have felt that it really mattered since he went through all that trouble to change himself.”
“Well,” Jenny replied. “I think he is just really confused about who he is. Maybe he thought it mattered, but now he’s not so sure. That’s why he sings ‘Who Is It?’ I think he trying to say he doesn't know who he is anymore.”
The follow-up single where Jackson sings about “lying to myself” didn't gain as much popularity as his hit “Black Or White,” but it was still worth discussing.
We were too young to have properly enjoyed “Bad” and “Billy Jean.” But “Black Or White” was playing every day on MTV, and the other soon-to-be hits from Jackson’s “Dangerous” album followed.
Our teenage discussions would continue. Who was Michael Jackson? What was this big star really all about? I’m not sure we ever settled on a good conclusion back then. It was before any of us knew how to use the internet, and it was before any of the sexual abuse allegations came to light. To us, Michael Jackson was just a good guy who wrote cool songs and did some funky dance moves.
Now – with the help of Google – I can tell those who don’t already know that Michael Jackson has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame – twice – and he has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. He was given the Living Legend Award at the 35th annual Grammy Awards. His 1982 album “Thriller” remains the best-selling album of all time.
But Michael Jackson was so much more than just a singer and songwriter. Despite constantly changing his appearances with plastic surgery, he broke the color barrier and helped raise awareness for HIV/AIDS on an international scale. Through his music, he also tried to bring awareness to homelessness and drug use. He gave donations to burn centers after an accident on set in the 1980s, and he started the Heal the World Foundation as well as gave money regularly to 38 other charities.
Sure, he owned a $100 million ranch in the middle of nowhere and a couple of million-dollar mansions here and there. He may also have made secret recordings before he died to provide for his three children, recordings that will now make millions after his death. And he was eventually acquitted of all molestation charges made against him over the years.
But there’s no arguing this: Whether you like his music or not, Michael Jackson really was a living legend.