“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.” Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”
It is surely stating the obvious, but Michael Jackson sang really well. This re-revelation came to me after using earbuds for the first time.
High-quality earbuds, which anyone in America who is not me no doubt already knows, are awfully close to being a few feet away from a live, un-miked performance. How do I know this? In the throws of young motherhood, I once took our daughters to an opera medley. (My husband declined to join us. Cough. Cough.)
Anyway, the performers were so delighted to have little girls in the audience, they insisted we move up front. Real up front. Let me tell you, you haven’t heard opera until you’ve experienced Nessun Dorma from close enough range to see the tenor’s tonsils quivering. Yeah.
The earbuds were pretty close, though. Jackson’s voice flitted from ear to ear, gliding silkily over the notes of an ’80s love song in the way millions of fans have so long known. You don’t sell that many albums for nothing.
I was unprepared for what else I heard. I heard him. The fidelity was so high, Jackson’s utter humanity somehow crept through. Woven into the beauty of his voice were hints of the uncertainty and sorrow his brief, troubled life also held. Those notes were there because Jackson, for all his fame and infamy, truly was a real human — way more than an album cover or a video or the caricature that his public persona eventually became.
And, I had never stopped to notice. I never prayed for the man, even though I had been aware of his existence and listened to his music for decades. Did anyone notice outside the people who actually knew him? Did anyone pray?
Jackson’s story is finished, but I’m thinking believers should take his suggestion from Man In The Mirror when pondering the lives of other celebrities and anti-celebrities for whom the world could still turn into a better place. Real humans like Stormy Daniels, various Kardashians and even Nikolas Cruz are in our faces, tonsils and all. They might as well be in our prayers, too.