"Michael Jackson was so gifted, so lonely, so confused, so sad. He lost happiness somewhere in his childhood, and spent his life trying to go back there and find it. When he played the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978), I think that is how he felt, and Oz was where he wanted to live..."
The first CD I ever purchased was Dangerous by Michael Jackson. I still have it. It's safe to say that Michael was undoubtedly the best performer of our generation. He was also, unfortunately, a very troubled soul.
When I was little I used to dream about casually telling my bratty neighbors that my friend "Mike" was coming over only to have a large helicopter land in my backyard from which the King of Pop emerged. (I also used to dream that Aerosmith would accidentally knock on my next door neighbors' door looking for me, but that's a different story.) Anyway, I loved him and like many children, I related to him. Pirates of the Caribbean in your backyard?! Sign me up!
But as time went on, he got too weird to love anymore and his story got too sad and too strange to justify.
A few years back, during his most recent child molestation trial, I watched a very interesting documentary on VH1 about Michael. The focus was on just how a person could end up in his state. They had experts and psychologists commenting on his life and the conclusion was that it was clear that this person was very sick and detached from reality and it was very clear that this kind of behavior was indicative of a history of some very serious child abuse and growing up in the spotlight.
Roger Ebert's quote was the most spot-on thing I've read amidst all the media fodder in the last day. The saddest thing about our once beloved Michael is not his recent death, but his tragic demise into adult life.
When thinking of him, it is very difficult to separate the strange from the extraordinary, but when watching or hearing him perform, it is all too easy.