Michael Jackson and I shared at least one thing: we were both born on August 29th. He was always first on the list of “Famous People Born on this Day.”
While I could appreciate his talent and liked a few of his songs, I never bought one of his albums. I would not consider myself a fan. I heard of his passing while in the middle of a softball game and my only thought was “oh, that’s interesting.”
I asked my 20-something teammate about the rumor I’d seen on Facebook. Had Farrah died today too, I asked?
“Farrah who?” he replied.
“How many Farrahs do you know?” I asked with a smile, assuming he was playing with me.
“None,” he said matter-of-factly.
He wasn’t joking. He’d never heard of Farrah Fawcett. When I thought about it, why would he? He’d never seen the Charlie’s Angels television show, the apex of her career arc. An actress known mostly for her beauty, her fame did not transcend generations.
But my young teammate certainly knew Michael Jackson’s songs even though Thriller came out five years before he was born. Michael Jackson was among the most famous people in the world. Certainly some of that fame came from notoriety, but the bulk of his fame was rooted in his talent as an artist.
Where Farrah was icon, Michael was an artist.
Artists move people. Artists transform the world. Art transcends time and lives on forever.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I took from Mr. Jackson’s death…
In this life, know your art.
Try to get paid for it.
It does not guarantee a happy life (Mr. Jackson was proof of this, too), but there are few things as powerful as touching someone’s life in a positive way by doing something you love to do.
P.S. While Mr. Jackson’s death did not affect me emotionally, I know it can be a real drag when an artist you love checks out. I know millions of people have heavy hearts, feeling like a little piece of themselves died yesterday. To those people, I say go back and listen to the music. That’s what it’s there for.