I heard the news while I was on the road yesterday on a long drive back to the field. The local station was mentioning the possibility of it but it was only a rumor. I quickly fired up my phone and got WCBS NEWS and they were reporting that the self proclaimed king of Pop, Michael Jackson, was indeed dead.
The only thing that shocked me more than that news of his death, was the news of his age. He was 50.
I've been rolling it around in my head as reports of grieving fans and supporters rolls around the earth, each new time zone waking up and eliciting a response of pain. You know, in some ways he was the king. A King.
Who else's death would create a similar wave of grief across the world? Would a politicians demise or the death of a sitting ruler? I don't think so. How about a scientist or an author, or a race car driver? Same worldwide effect? None that I can think of.
Our kings and queens have changed quite a bit over the years. We've shifted from having political rulers as our kings, to crowning our artists to be our kings and queens. Which seems to be the way people go, isn't it? I mean a while ago I read a quote that said "Artists are the prophets to this generation." Think U2 and Sir Paul, and even individuals like Madonna. They speak to these generations of the needs of life be it in me or in Africa. Perhaps the next step is that artists are the Kings and Queens to this generation. I mean it's happened before right?
Prophets are never enough, besides they get noisy and rub the wrong way. What we want is a king, to tell us what to think, what to do, how to dress, how to behave. I think in more ways than we care to admit, Michael Jackson was a king.
It helps us to be reminded that these kings are mere mortals.
And so we recognize that indeed, the king is dead.