Friday, June 26, 2009

“They Always Go in Threes”

I first remember hearing that phrase for the first time back in 1965 when my brother died, the boy next door died and the lady across the street died all in about a week.

I wrote about McMahon two days ago and I was not really that aware of Farrah Fawcett’s condition. I had heard she had cancer, but that was all. Although she will always be remembered for Charlie’s Angels, I will always remember her for a shaving cream commercial that I cannot find on YouTube. It is certainly not the one with Joe Namath. I did own the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. But perhaps the thing I will remember her for most is the Steve Martin line when hosting the opening show of the third season SNL, “Boy oh boy, I am so mad at Farrah Fawcett Majors. She is so conceited. She has never called me once. And after the hours I spent holding up her poster with one hand.”

“Thriller” came out right around the time I moved to New York. I listened to it constantly in the winter of ‘82-‘83, just like I did with Prince’s “Purple Rain” in the summer of ‘84. The openings of “Billy Jean” and “Beat It” will always fondly remind me of my early New York years.

I am one of the few who sees significant similarities between music and comedy. Comedy, when done right, has a mathematic precision, like music. Both occupy the highest parts of the brain. The writing of comedy can be very similar to music in setting up and paying off, different aspects of written and performed comedy and humor can have a melodic quality. Comedy and music can both have crescendos, fills, etc.

There is more I could write about that, but it was while listening to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”, the first song on the album, that I first came to this realization. I would lie in bed with headphones so that I could hear it as closely as possible. And I was also a little under the influence, which enhanced these artistic exploratory sensibilities.

I did not follow Jackson. I didn’t buy “Bad” or the other albums. I remember watching him as a boy on Flip Wilson. His singing, dancing and entertaining was beyond exceptional. Too bad about the weirdness; he would obviously have had a much better career without it. But there is, as they say, a fine line between madness and genius. He certainly was a genius. But genius does not excuse child sexual abuse. He was acquitted but I believe there was something there. However, that’s not the first thing I think about when I think of Michael Jackson. He was powerful.

Would there be a president Obama without a Michael Jackson? Interesting question.

I know Iran would not have been able to get on MSNBC last night unless he had died in Tehran.

Is that the power of celebrity in America?