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Posts Tagged ‘music’

“We want you back”

It’s only now, 3 days later, than I can begin to cry over the death of Michael Jackson. I experience grief for him the way I’ve grieved for people I know personally; shock, disbelief, sadness; the feeling that the person you’ve lost is everywhere and nowhere at once. Compounding things is the tragedy his life became; the complexity of his legacy; the somber lessons about fame, work, and music that we are to learn from his life & death.

I’ve written before about the need for celebrity grief. Grieving people in the public eye, or with whom we grew up, is necessary and a rite of passage. Our culture is shaped by people who live their lives publicly, and when those lives end we are required to look at them honestly, grieve respectfully, and see them for the complicated, human people they were. Those who want to place Michael (or anyone who has died, for that matter) in an “either/or” box are missing this crucial point: it’s entirely possible that someone can be complicated, deeply flawed even, and yet contribute something of value to the world.

I took special notice of Lisa Marie Presley’s statement, released on her MySpace page. It’s particularly heartbreaking, because Lisa speaks candidly of wanting to “save” someone she loved from his own self-destructive impulses, and of course, being unable to do so. Lisa says,

I became very ill and emotionally/spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him.

I was in over my head while trying.

I had my children to care for, I had to make a decision.

The hardest decision I have ever had to make, which was to walk away and let his fate have him, even though I desperately loved him and tried to stop or reverse it somehow.

How many people die every day that could have been “saved?” What is our responsibility to someone who doesn’t want our help? Relatives & loved ones of drug addicts, alcoholics and other risk-takers experience this all the time. How much of ourselves are we supposed to sacrifice? When do we make the decision to stop saving someone else and save ourselves? Which is more important?

Later in her statement, Lisa says she hopes everyone who worried over Michael can be “set free.” I hope she includes herself. And in her case, God bless her, she’s witnessed the same type of death twice, which is two too many for any one lifetime. It doesn’t seem there’s anything anyone could have done.

Perhaps most upsetting is how young Michael seemed; how terribly naïve; how full of energy he appeared to be. Watching him dance and jump and move and laugh is heartbreaking, knowing, simply, that he was so alive and now he isn’t. It’s always a little easier knowing someone died after they were “ready”; when they had made preparations and accepted that their time was over. I don’t think Michael ever could have been in this category as he seemed way too committed to his Peter Pan existence.

And here he is, literally singing to his inner child:

“Put a Ring On It”

October 25, 2008 3 comments

I’ve always admired dancers for their ease of movement and the way they always seem intimately aware of & comfortable with their bodies.

I’m entranced by Dancer554 (aka “Shane”) and his interpretation of Beyoncé’s latest, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).” It’s amazing! Apparently seduced by the virtuosic, Fosse-inspired choreography of the original, several dance enthusiasts have posted their homages. But Shane, apparently a professional dancer, is the best. And contrary to some of the comments, I love the outfit!

Beyoncé has always graced us with her “Independent Woman” persona, which exudes an impossible self-esteem (in this song, she has the wherewithal to go dancing right after a breakup!) and a constant “all-about-me” assertiveness, which is attractive to those of us who have been known to give a little too much.

It’s a sharp contrast to her very blase “admission” of her marriage to Jay-Z, where she seems to dismiss the whole idea of a wedding or of newly wedded bliss. Why hide the happiness? Wouldn’t the “Miss Independent” of her songs be overjoyed at finally having the love & commitment that she deserves?

Who are we to know what’s in Beyoncé’s head or heart? Either way, “Put a Ring On It” is a fair response to R&B’s rampant mysogynistic lyrics and society’s celebration of commitmentphobic men. Apparently, the song’s protagonist has given three years of her life to yet another guy who wouldn’t move things along (maybe he used the oh-so-ubiquitous “just a piece of paper” argument).

I’ll confess: this type of guy, the “piece of paper” guy, has been a figure that haunted my nightmares for years. I was always worried that I’d get “stuck” with one. You know the type; the one who wants to “live together” indefinitely and have you do everything a married woman would — except be married. The one who says, “I’m not quite ready yet” — and says it for a million years in a row.

This fear remained with me until I , Beyoncé-style, experienced a surge of self-esteem and fearlessness, and realized that being with one of these guys has nothing to do with “waiting for love” and everything to do with rejecting his fear and selfishness, and acknowledging my worth as a woman worth committing to.

A great deal of relationship turmoil forced me to realize that it’s my choice whether or not to be reeled in by one of these Mr. Big types (who, on the surface, usually seem perfectly fine). Loneliness is uncomfortable, but it’s usually just temporary and preferable to being stuck in this endless loop. And if I do end up with a guy like that, you can be sure I’ll be singing this song on my way out the door.