Answer to the previous post about notions that sometimes make people react in an epidermic way... This "mood post" is not a scientific exercise full of footnotes and references to "scientific" books, but a free flow... of my ideas, my feelings and my understanding of the elements put forward. Direct, without firewall, without academic shield.
This post is about Michael Jackson. And only about Michael Jackson. I could have put his work, his contributions, in perspective with those of other professionals, other artists. Once again, my goal was not to reproduce the work that I do all week. And I do not deprive anyone strictly by highlighting in this particular artist what he has eminently done. Each grain of sand, on a beach, has its importance. Every wild flower has its place in the beauty of a landscape. He himself relied on his predecessors, "borrowed" references before recasting them in his own aesthetic. I do not deny the importance of Elvis, Lennon, Les Paul, Fred Astaire, Da Vinci or Beethoven. Everything was a school in his house. All of them have made an appointment with him. And many others.
The questions I initially asked in the July 26 post are not mine. Because I am not looking for a "successor". Because I am aware of the contributions of others. Because I know how (and I assume it! ), he has been more inescapable than others, for me, instinctively, since the age of 10 and the Thriller album, but also now, in the light of my work, very objectively... These questions are only the echo of things too often brought up in Sunday conversations, in entertainment shows in search of a dynamic of interest, suspense, funding... "Type 1, type 2, type 3... Who will be the new Michael Jackson..."
Now. As for this notion of "inescapable" and the fact that one could have lived his life without ever finding this quality... The cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people we sometimes say with a certain cynicism... Yes, it is indeed the case. I can confirm this. Nobody replaces anybody, the love or the qualities or the intelligence of somebody cannot be substituted for those of another. Beethoven, as Beethoven was, is not Mozart, and Mozart is not Bach. But all are indispensable. One could retort that the indispensability of Mozart is debatable. For some, Mozart is an innovative genius, for others, "just" the one who canonized the rules of classicism, for others, a child prodigy whose talent continued to grow with age. Would today's music be the same without him? Would the life of some and others be more beautiful without the purity of his melodies, without the beneficial evidence of his harmonic sequences? (Even the plants in the garden of Neverland would have been less well off.... !)
So if my statement is to impose him, in all subjectivity, as a must, it is easy, in all objectivity, to demonstrate it. Michael Jackson's inescapability is a historical fact. From the huge audience he gathered, beyond Elvis and the Beatles. The technical and media possibilities that his time offered and the use he knew how to make of it. The modalities of this conquest of audience are partly the object of my research and of the articles which will follow. His impact, his influence, had a scope which exceeded, by this simple fact, the advances of his predecessors. His way of shaping the sound has had an eminent impact until today. His demands, his quest for quality have, in professional circles and by this same scope and impact, set a precedent. One can ignore it. It may not be known. Many of the young people I meet on a daily basis think that electricity and recording have always existed and do not know who Edison is. When I play Mozart for them, some of them naively ask me every year if he is playing. When they brought me the rock opera Mozart for comment, some of them were sure that he was the composer of the songs (I'm not making this up, it's true). They benefit from electricity and CDs on a daily basis and do not find Thomas Edison or Emile Berliner indispensable. Hanging on their cell phones, they don't thank Graham Bell and fans of American rap don't say thank you to James Brown either. Can we blame them? But are they right?
Michael Jackson is, in my opinion, sociologically and aesthetically inescapable, and everyone knows it (in fact, that's what we know most of all!) because within this vast audience, he has supremely conquered whites and blacks, Caucasians, Africans and Asians, Indians and Amerindians. He made diagonals by making "accepted", in a very compartmentalized American society, at the limit of cultural apartheid, the music called "black" by whites, and the music called "white" by blacks. He has, within this same vast public, passed on a humanist message that is accessible and understandable by the different social and cultural strata. For those who only have access to the surface or do not seek to scratch the veneer, they can learn an appropriate lesson; for those who seek to understand or have grown up in a cultural environment that allows them to decipher the other strata, they too learn an appropriate lesson.
Finally, Michael Jackson is inescapable because he did not work ONLY in one field. He is multidisciplinary and endowed with many talents, many skills. His contributions are multiple and concern music as much as dance, scenography as much as auditory narrativity and combine the whole. Here again, it is the scope, the mediatization, founded, which increase tenfold this impact which, in itself and only at the base, was already enormous.
As for looking for him or hoping to find him a "successor". Of course everyone has his place on this earth. That others will come. But everyone is irreplaceable. A person's talents are one thing. His "capacity" to be born in a family and social environment that will fertilize these talents is another. There will be, of course and so much the better, other creators, other innovators, other great artists. There will be no other Michael Jackson. No more than other Berlioz or other Michelangelo. He himself did not want to be a new James Brown or a new Fred Astaire. Who can claim that? And how could the world move forward in a dynamic of nostalgia and repetition? Michael Jackson was him, and we thank him for that.
That's it. The goal was not to make another post on this same subject.
Everyone is free, of course, not to try to understand things or not to want to see things more clearly... One can appreciate the "rock'n'roll" sound of Elvis and of this whole era without evaluating how much it owes to the innovations of Sam Phillips and Sun Records; one can appreciate the vocal sound blocks of "Rock With You" without saying thank you to the distant Les Paul who initiated in a revolutionary way the overdubbing; one can thank the influence of Motown or certain studio tools without knowing that the names credited are not those who actually worked, and not try to put the church back in the middle of the village; one can listen to rap music all his life without ever saying thank you to James Brown; one can live, a priori well, thinking that Michael Jackson just worked "his way" (sic. ). But in what way!
For all that, it seems to me that we are depriving ourselves of an enlightening, nourishing and fascinating understanding of the world.
America owes its name to some scholars based in Saint-Dié in 1507 who chose to fix it on the maps of the time in homage to Amerigo Vespucci. It is a name that has been used every day for 500 years. One can live without ever having heard of these men who worked deep in the Vosges and took, among other decisions, this one. But when you know about it, your mind and your understanding open up. It is not the things that change. But their perception. The awareness that one has of them. Sorry for this word, no more "scientific" than the other. I assume to be personal.
For sure "it's too late to change the time... but not too late to change your mind."
And that goes through knowledge, awareness. If one wants, of course...