Thursday, June 25, 2009

Death Comes in Threes

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It's a saying that has always caught my attention, because it so often is true. And with my last grandparent drifting on and off the death watch regularly (it happens when you're inching toward 90), one or two deaths starts wondering if she'll be the third. Not today, though.

(For clarification, the motivation of this blog was the third person on the list. But I wasn't going to give the others a short shrift.

It was earlier in the week when the news broke about Ed McMahon (1923-2009). I remember him from back in the days of the Tonight Show, alongside Johnny Carson (required the little shaver that I was to stay up way late past 11:30). Since then, he's been around, like the legendary figure he was. But his death was not necessarily shocking or sad, as he had a good life and his death was a matter of when. I think the last time I saw him were those somewhat sad Cash4Gold Super Bowl commercials. He will always be remembered fondly.

Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009), on the other hand, is the person I least knew about, probably because her greatest fame was in the 1970's (I was still learning to piss standing up when she was one of the Angels. In my world she was a name of a famous person past. She was also the same age as my parents, though, and a reminder of the ravages of cancer, which she fought valiantly for years.

But I think it would be more fitting (and spankable) to remember her at the peak of her fame. Because our fondest memories of famous and legendary people are usually at the peak of their fame, not at the end, when they can be long past their prime, ravaged by disease, or reduced to a a pitiful shell of a person.

Which brings me to Michael Jackson (1958-2009). I'm going to skip over the last couple of decades of sadness, weirdness, stupidity, and criminal allegations. Because as sad and fucked up as Michael's life became, it was that period that he was at his peak that I was forming my taste in music. And I can't and won't forget it. In fact, I had the video for Thriller (not embedded because Youtube disabled it by request) playing earlier for the neighbor kids. And while they didn't really know Michael Jackson, they were impressed by the 25-year-old video.

And getting back to legacy, after the ridiculous Neverland ranch, the funky monkey, the transformation fro a young black man to a scary white alien, and the molestation jokes are all forgotten, the impact of his music will live on.

So I'm going to stop and just let the playlist above speak for itself.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Patrick. I really believe death comes in three's, at least in my experience anyway. Leaves you a bit worried when the 2nd one happens. I know Ed and Farrah have been struggling with illness but they still came as a shock. Jackson's just floored me. As eccentric as he became in the later years, he was a fabulous musician and he was the reason for a lot of the style's in the early 80's. I believe I even had the glove and everything. The moonwalk was the thing. His music will definitely live on.

Garry said...

The picture you chose of BJ, MJ was a bad choice, he hasn't looked that good in 25 years.
And PS, that's when he was Black.