It is all very well to analyze Michael Jackson's voice by referring to all sorts of elements of vocal technique, by exploring his physiology, his cultural impregnation, but is this enough to explain everything? In this field, I think I am well placed to be a little critical of the thing and, by the same token, self-critical - having spent a large part of my university research deciphering his vocal organ, in stylistic as well as technical or technological contexts.
The human being being being what he is - too often convinced of his finiteness and imprisoned in theories and scientific concepts that he himself has defined and to which he then submits his own reasoning, turning on himself ad infinitum to cyclically rediscover lukewarm water - it was necessary to go through this.
All this is not totally vain since we live in an organic world which is not only a vast farce and that its principles, which we hardly discover, blind as we are, are not all only erroneous projections of our limited mind.
But, while listening the other night, for the thousandth time, to a playlist of Michael's songs with a particular emotional flow, at all times of his musical life, I was once again struck by a flash of light.
Is this voice really human? Who really owns this organic body that hosts it and sends it back to the universe? How is it possible that a single being is capable of such a palette of expression and emotion?
Because, finally, this voice is not that of a single man. The frequencies and vibrations it emits, the emotion and meaning it carries are not the expression of a single life. They are not on a human scale. It is often said, and more and more often, that the brain is not a transmitter of the spirit, but rather a receiver. Well, I say that Michael's voice is not the witness of a single human life, but the receiver of something greater. It is a mediator between that something beyond us and our small carnal envelope.
Is his voice the tangible proof of a greater presence that inhabited him, or is it the proof that this frail body did indeed shelter an old soul, as he liked to say? I do not know. But let me ask the question directly here.
When I listen to another great voice, which I love enormously, that of George Michael, for example, and that I enjoy its palette of colors, its play of timbres, the emotional intensity that so often characterizes it, I hear the voice of a man. Of a single man. Of a life, real or reappropriated (as required by the acting exercise to which all singers are subjected, especially when the texts are not autobiographical), but of only one life. However, the brush of Michael Jackson's voice seems to draw from a palette of colors, of experiences, of feelings, of experiments, which exceed his only life and thus only one human life. And in this, in comparison with others, his mystery appears to me even more obvious. Even more intangible. Perhaps mystical.
What if Michael Jackson had been able to touch an inordinate part of humanity because his voice expressed a form of meta-humanity? It speaks to the world, beyond linguistic barriers, it speaks to the crowds and, at the same time, it speaks to each of us, in the intimacy of our lives and whispers to each of us a different story, but a story that touches us, in the hollow of our ears. It awakens in us a vibratory frequency that moves us, puts us in joy or in empathy, but it is never foreign to us. It sings a text, a melody, that our brain, our ears, our intelligence can grasp, but it is something of a completely different nature that reaches us and fascinates us. Then one seeks. We lay down theoretical concepts, we dissect the man, his body, we decipher his cultural environment, at worst we take refuge behind coincidences.
If voice of angel there is, it is not for me with basic (and ridiculous) questions of asexuality that it would be advisable to connect it. But is the sometimes lowly human time that we live capable of putting aside for an hour the dogmatism, even the scientific obscurantism to which it clings and to try to think at the same time bigger and more humble?
Moreover, while listening to the last opuses of this voice, I was marked by an organicity more and more present... Here again, one could connect it, seen from below and without it being false, with a maturity, an ageing (even if age has never affected Michael's ability to sing in the high notes of his register), the affirmation of a virility, a fatherhood etc. But I seemed to see - in this fulgurance with metaphysical accents and through this vocal mutation marked by the erasure of these harmonics which gave it the vaporous contours of a sound mist - a wounded angel, lurking in the shadows, with bruised and curled up wings. No doubt man, in his project to be more and more god instead of god, a vengeful God, who judges when he does not understand, has won this victory of having reached and silenced, by dint of blows, the angel who inhabited this voice. We heard the man, more assertive, more incarnate, and we rejoiced. We heard him talk about more down-to-earth subjects, which we could finally understand, and we thought he had finally touched the ground. But we didn't realize that he wasn't growing up, becoming an adult and responsible, but rather putting himself within our reach. We didn't realize that nothing would ever be the same again. That it would have to be reborn again for us to open our eyes and take the measure. That in taking this measure, we would ask his forgiveness. And if not in our name, then in the name of those who are still blind.
In any case, listening again from a distance to this voice that animates the child as well as the adult, I felt invited to a higher and greater bath of consciousness. Beyond the words, the music and the man, this voice opens a channel towards an Elsewhere which is only elsewhere because we are not really there, even if we sense it, a space of timelessness that we do not yet know how to grasp.
Perhaps Michael Jackson is one of those beings who try, in a recurrent way, to open us to something else. Like any man, his body was probably the receptacle of a soul, but this soul has probably this particularity that it seems bigger than the soul of a single life, more enlightened, wiser.
Without doubt it is in that that Michael Jackson has this something more indefinable, unspeakable, which can disturb, especially when one does not want to be spiritual and that one wants to remain Cartesian and scientifically dogmatic. Once again, whether they are small or big, Michael Jackson has this particularity of not letting himself be locked up in these labels that we impose on him and of escaping sooner or later from all the limitations that we assign to him.
So let's try again. Let's try to listen further, more finely, more beyond meaning. Let's connect our soul to his and offer ourselves the freedom to welcome everything, even what scares us or can destabilize our beliefs. Let us vibrate freely with him...
"You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields. That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind. But a thing free, a spirit that envelopes the earth and moves in the ether." Khalil Gibran