Well, who knew that my first post back from vacation would be about the death of Michael Jackson, which shocked me like no rock death since that of John Lennon. I can't imagine what the cable airwaves are going to be like in the next 24 hours - I'm sure that it will be even worse than Elvis' death, when every Tom, Dick and Harry who had crossed paths with the King came out of the woodwork to pontificate on how avoidable it all was, how sad it was that Elvis had allowed himself to sink so far - when most of those uttering those words had enabled him for years.
The less said about Michael's travails over the past two decades, the better. The story is well known, and it is not a happy one. All you really need to know is that in 1985 - nearly twenty-five years ago! - Dave Marsh wrote "Trapped," a book about Michael, with the thesis that Michael was "shackled by his fame and his inability to portray himself honestly to his audience." And that was before things truly went downhill.
In my book, it certainly qualifies as a tragic story - because at one time, it seemed that Michael was poised to conquer all before him, was prepared to create music with the potential to cross-over, to unite. That it didn't happen is reason enough to mourn his passing.
UPDATE: Steven Rubio also equates Michael's death with Elvis', quoting words from Lester Bangs that I've quoted here before.