Serial Bus

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Alas, MJ

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The famous guy who I shared (just) my initials with died last Thursday at 50. Michael Jackson enthralled the world for about 40 years before giving up the ghost. The death of any other singer of English songs would not have moved me so much – but MJ was a huge cultural cross-over. Outside of the US too, he was a childhood icon of many a non-English speaking people and a cool embodiment of all the razzle-dazzle that West represented for us.

I consider myself largely ignorant about the large body of western music. These days, I can perhaps count 10 bands and 20 famous singers without pausing too much. However, the point of origin of this rather flat learning curve was Michael Jackson. I do not remember how and precisely when, but as far back as I can recall, MJ was the first (and for a long time, the only) western music star I had heard of. It is a testimony to his viral fame that even in provincial India, MJ was an epitome of western music.

Actually, we knew him more as a dancer. There were friends who, inspired by MJ, did ‘break dance’ – when our dance vocabulary improved, we knew MJ moonwalked. There is this tacky Bollywood number called ‘Disco Bhangra’ from a dud called ‘Ganga Jamuna Saraswati’ that Amitabh Bachchan starred in the late eighties. As it happened, I must have been the biggest fan of the movie when it was released. It was an action film with some true Bollywood-style music to boot. As an 8-year old, I got home the music cassette and crooned the songs endlessly. In ‘Disco Bhangra’, Amitabh blatantly tried to ape MJ – one of the lines of the song was ‘Dance dikhaunga aisa, Michael Jackson ke jaisa’ (I will dance in a way, like Michael Jackson). That must have done it. I learnt late in life that MJ also sang. However, for several years, Michael Jackson was the only name I knew when it came to flaunting my knowledge of western music.

Later in life, I learnt more about MJ – his videos, his dance moves, his chart-topping songs, his global appeal, his story, all hearsays about his skin color, his plastic surgeries and some pretty damning lawsuits. He came to India in 1996 and performed in Bombay – it must have been the biggest western music concert India has witnessed till date.

In the end, for all his success, I rue that the guy himself was perhaps not happy. For all the meaning he gave to millions of his fans, he could not put his own life on an even keel. He did not end his life but I guess even he would not dispute that he had a pretty dysfunctional life – perhaps the price he paid for his genius. He did not leave a note like Cobain but I am sure he also believed ‘it’s better to burn out than fade away’.

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Written by serialbus

June 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm

One Response

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  1. hey buddy long time…..no updates…wht is your number…will connect sometime

    Shashibhan

    July 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm


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