08 July 2009
MJ's Memorial Service
I caught bits and pieces of it at work yesterday but I caught the whole thing online at MSNBC.com last night. I was going to link it up for you all but unfortunately the video has been taken down. But you can still see clips and highlights from the service. The coverage clocked in at 177 minutes and it was exhausting to watch. I don't mean that it was boring because it sure as hell wasn't. I meant that I felt like I was at one my relatives' funerals, like Michael was family and I had all these memories of him in my life and I could laugh and cry along with everyone there, which seems crazy because I didn't actually know him. I couldn't even post about it last night as I was still emotionally overwrought. (Every time I watch the part with Paris Jackson, I start to cry, even though I've seen it about ten times and I'm not a big crier. Even reading about that particular moment in the paper today made me start crying.) So I took a day to process it all before talking about it here.
One question: how do people ever pull themselves together to perform at these things? I can't imagine trying to sing a song for a loved one who had just passed. Jermaine started to waver at the end of "Smile" but the audience applauded in order to rally his composure (I got choked up along with him but somehow managed to stop the tears from flowing). Usher touched Michael's casket and almost didn't finish his song "Gone Too Soon," which Michael had written about Ryan White. When Usher took off his sunglasses and just stared at the coffin, crying, the Jackson family rushed over to comfort him (I almost cried at that, too). Mariah Carey actually apologized on her Twitter page for not delivering a better performance. But does anyone really blame her for it? I don't. I couldn't help thinking back, though, to when she and Trey Lorenz first did the "I'll Be There" duet on her MTV Unplugged special. When was that, like '93? MJ's kids weren't even born yet! Her current husband was just breaking into puberty! She still wore her hair curly! MTV still played music videos! Amazing. And when Stevie Wonder was doing "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer," I remembered hearing the song in the movie Poetic Justice which starred...Janet Jackson. Weird.
It was a relief to have the humorous moments. Magic Johnson saying that finding out that MJ, his boyhood idol, loved Kentucky Fried Chicken was the "greatest moment of my life." Marlon recalling how he recognized his brother in a music store even though Michael was in heavy disguise as an older man with an Afro, crooked teeth, and baggy pants. Smokey Robinson admitting that Michael did a better job singing "Who's Loving You" than Robinson himself, the song's writer, and how kids today think it's actually Michael's tune. And, even though this wasn't classified as a funny moment, just an observation, I was heartened by the easy rapport that seems to still exist between Jermaine and Berry Gordy although Jermaine and Gordy's daughter divorced a number of years ago.
Anyway, what else can I say about it? It was amazing to witness and I'm glad that I took the time to watch the whole thing online last night. And to those who missed it, don't worry, someone, somewhere, will probably start selling copies of it in the next few months. That's show business.