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SHOUT!

Ignorance of people purchasing diamonds and necklaces,
And barely able to keep the payments up on their lessons,
And enrolled in a class and don’t know who the professor is,
How low people go for the dough and make a mess of things,
Kids are murdering other kids for the fun of it,
Instead of using their mind or their fist, they put a gun in it
Wanna be a part of a clique, don’t know who’s running it,
Tragedy on top of tragedy you know it’s killing me.


So many people in agony, this shouldn’t have to be,
Too busy focusing on ourselves and not His Majesty,
There has to be some type of change for this day and age,
We gotta rearrange and flip the page,
Living encaged like animals and cannibals,
Eating each other alive just to survive the nine to five,
Every single day is trouble while we struggle and strive
Peace of mind’s so hard to find.

Chorus
I wanna shout, throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout
You know it makes me wanna shout,
Throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout, c’mon now

Verse 2
Problems, complications and accusations
Dividing the nations and races of empty faces
A war is taking place.
No substitution for restitution, the only solution for peace
Is increasing the height of your spirituality.
Masses of minds are shrouded, clouded visions
Deceptions and indecision, no faith or religion, how we’re living.
The clock is ticking, the end is coming, there’ll be no warning,
But will we live to see the dawn.

Bridge
How can we preach, when all we make this world to be
Is a living hell torturing our minds.
We all must unite, to turn darkness to light,
And the love in our hearts will shine.

Verse 3
We’re disconnected from love, we’re disrespecting each other
Whatever happened to protecting each other
Poisoned your body and your soul for a minute of pleasure,
But the damage that you’ve done is gonna last forever.
Babies being born in the world already drug addicted and afflicted,
Family values are contradicted.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, the pressure’s building and I’ve had enough.

“This is not your ordinary record,” the track begins. Truer words were never spoken.

Apparently, recorded for the Invincible release that was so overshadowed by controversy in the United States (analyzed in more depth in Render unto Caesar on this site) and co-written by Cylph and Crystal, the song was released in Europe and the rest of the world as part of a maxi-single with Cry (another beautiful collaboration between R. Kelly and Michael.)

I ran across the song by accident.  It is touted as a remake of an old Isley Brothers song, but with a modern twist. I guess so!

What I do know is that Shout is one of the most unusual Michael Jackson songs I’ve ever heard. The sound of the song is frenetic; the feel of the song is urgent and angry; the beat is fast, industrial, mechanical. Michael’s voice is delivered in a very low range in a staccato manner – each word almost punched into the industrial feel of the track – indistinguishable (if possible) from the mechanical drum and bass beats. There is very little actual singing involved in this song. There are no soaring background vocals in six or eight part harmonies, no lilting melodies one laid over the other to create a tapestry of vocal perfection that one can only find in Michael’s music. Michael raps! And he raps well! And he raps very, very fast!

At first hearing, one wonders exactly what Michael is so angry about. Normally, Michael’s anger hurts me because I am so very aware of the pain which produced it. However, his anger in Shout is justified and accentuated by the lyrics and an in-depth study of them clearly illustrates Michael’s concern for many of the social issues our society faces on a daily, even hourly basis.

As a matter of fact, I have heard talking heads and anchor persons call Michael Jackson “an angry young man” and wonder aloud what he could possibly be angry about! Are they kidding? Well, let’s see what Michael Jackson could possibly be angry about. Perhaps, twenty-five years of lies, scandals, innuendos attached to his name have caused him to be a bit upset. Maybe being accused of horrible things when all he ever wanted was to heal every child he encountered and kill all the bigotry, hatred, intolerance he experienced in his too short life raised his ire. But that’s another post.

This song illustrates a departure for me. Usually, I am attracted to the soft side of Michael – the warm, squishy, fuzzy, cuddly Michael. I love the sensual beats of You Are Not Alone and Lady in My Life and Fall Again. I do love the boogie songs, too – the ones that make your head “bob” in time, but the soft side of Michael vibrates and resonates within my soul. There is nothing soft about Shout!  Yet, I love the song a lot.

Within the song, Michael comments on issues facing the world in very bold, direct, unmistakable language. He talks about economic snobbery, school violence, educational apathy, self-absorption at the expense of spiritual enlightenment, social irresponsibility, drug addiction, national and denominational divisiveness, corporate and media enslavement. The topics covered are very cutting-edge, current, topical for our social and media-prevalent culture.

We’re disconnected from love, we’re disrespecting each other
Whatever happened to protecting each other?


What, indeed? Currently our news is overtaken by the stories of children killing themselves because other children bullied them on social websites or in their schoolyards or in text messages. Major news outlets are asking questions like: How could this be happening? Where are these children learning this? Where are they getting this? And they sound like sincere questions. Are they serious?

I think it’s safe to assume that our children are getting it from our media – from news outlets, from tabloid journalists, from television broadcasts. Let’s not forget the role of the parents in this discussion. Let me illustrate my point.

Children are not unaware of the world around them. They are observant. They are sponges. They learn by example – not by what we tell them or teach them in Sunday school classes on Sunday mornings – but what they see around them on a daily basis.

They watch Simon Cowell bully contestants to the point of tears with words that are not meant to be constructive or instructive in any way. They are not meant to enhance the receiver’s performance, but to belittle, degrade. If it increases ratings dollars it’s considered a juicy little side effect. They watch the hosts bully plus size contestants on the Biggest Loser not to build strength or encourage lifestyle change, but to call names, to dehumanize, to poke fun at and make a laughingstock of the contestant. They watch their mothers and fathers come home from work and plant themselves in their recliners not to be educated or uplifted by their television viewing, nor to be entertained by the talent being offered, but to laugh along with the audience when Simon ‘lights into’ one of the less personable of the auditions. And they connect the dots. This is entertainment?!?

I wanna shout, throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout
You know it makes me wanna shout,
Throw my hands up and shout
What’s this madness all about
All this makes me wanna shout, c’mon now

We live in a ‘reality show’ universe. If you don’t like what’s on one channel, you can choose to jump to another but it is showing the same thing in different dressing. If it’s not Biggest Loser, it’s Survivor or Bachelor or the many that MTV and VH1 show in their lineup.  The days are long gone when you could turn on MTV or VH1 and be entertained by your favorite musical artists performing their latest hits. There are no variety shows anymore. There are no real sitcoms. There are no uplifting programs like Touched by An Angel, whose weekly exploits taught us something, made us think about our belief system, spoke to our souls. There is nothing but the reality show genre on television anymore, except PBS and HBO (and HBO is worse with its violence and sexually explicit material.) These are the only choices available.

Well, perhaps, I was a bit too hasty. We can always watch the 24-hour news cycle on CNN or MSNBC. And what do we see there? We see public figures being verbally mauled, laughed at by perfectly coiffed and manicured anchors with white hair to increase our comfort level and respect and to lend them credibility that they don’t deserve. They spend much of their hourly time slot bullying politicians like our rock star president, for example … or Tiger Woods for his infidelities. Our children are sponges. They are not stupid. They hear the media hype surrounding people like Lady Diana Spencer, whose larger humanitarian efforts should have made her an inviolate advocate of the downtrodden and an alluring role model for young women – and Michael Jackson, whose talent was so huge that it couldn’t be contained and whose countless contributions to our cultural story – leaving completely aside his gargantuan humanitarian donations – should have made him the perfect role model for our up and coming young men, especially young men from minority backgrounds.

Unlike some of our sports heroes who publically reject the ‘role model’ stereotype as too limiting, he was willing to accept that responsibility and to make of it a thing of limitless freedom, creativity and strength. He was willing to sublimate his ego to the greater good of humanity. Not many of us are so selfless. Was he admired for his sacrifice? Were children encouraged to look up to him, to learn from him? No, he was vilified for his uniqueness; he was ridiculed and scorned for his appearance; he was accused for his piercing, aching concern for sick and disadvantaged children. In other words, he was bullied by every news anchor and outlet in the world! And our children saw and heard. Because, after all, that’s entertainment! That’s news!

Our children hear Jay Leno and his tasteless jokes at others’ expense, his nightly monologues that poke fun at celebrities whom we love to elevate to pedestals – and then turn those pedestals into instruments of torture – into crucifixes – upon which we impale our fallen heroes (and even those who haven’t fallen or who fall only in the sick imaginations of our very vocal media) when we tire of them. They listen to the talking heads tearing these people apart in the most publically humiliating way it is conceivable to do – while offering absolutely no ‘proof’ or ‘unimpeachable source’ to back up their claims, their lies, their scandals. They watch their parents as they return from work and compose themselves in their living rooms with a large scotch and soda in their hands as mom prepares microwavable meals in the kitchen. They hear the lies and the psychological bullying on-air, the name-calling, the degrading commentary, the dehumanizing opinion being reported as factual – regardless of having little basis in fact – as they sit at the kitchen table and do their homework.

Gee, I wonder where they get the idea that that kind of behavior is acceptable in our society. Then, they go to school and they repeat the behavior (because that’s what kids do) and one of their little classmates commits suicide because these bullies-in-waiting are modeling the ‘entertainment’ they watch and hear nightly on the ‘news reports’ that are little more than scandal sheets run amok. And our reporters spend their hourly time slot examining this phenomenon and asking where our children are getting this kind of tutelage … where they are learning to do this?

From US! They are learning it from US! And we have to stop it before any more of our children decide to commit suicide to make the pain they are living with daily in their schools stop!

Michael knew this side of human nature intimately. It appalled him; it angered him; it saddened him; it ate him alive; it killed him!

Kids are murdering other kids for the fun of it,
Instead of using their mind or their fist, they put a gun in it
Wanna be a part of a clique, don’t know who’s running it,
Tragedy on top of tragedy you know it’s killing me.

In September 2010, a pedagogical and humanitarian organization by the name of the Voices Education Project (http://www.voiceseducation.org) released a new educational curriculum that takes direct aim at this problem. The Words and Violence curriculum contains in-depth reflective readings, poems, case studies and tools to educate our children of middle school through college ages regarding this very topic. While I agree it is important that our children learn the value of the words they utter and the violence those words can do to young impressionable psyches, it’s not the most important thing our society should concern itself with.

We need to work on an educational vehicle for on-going professional development activities for our media, parents and teachers. Because we can’t presume to instruct our children on this issue until we have educated ourselves regarding the harm we are doing to our progeny.

Clearly, children see through hypocrisy! They will throw our words right back in our faces if we try to sit them down and explain to them how bullying is wrong and unacceptable in our society while our television viewing and movie theaters and evening news programs teach them the exact opposite. Or, their eyes will glaze over as they do when we are trying to teach them proper sexual practices when their schoolmates have been experimenting with sexual activity since fifth grade and have told them all about it – and what fun it is – and that their parents are too old to understand the urges they are feeling! It’s a sure sign we have lost them!

How can we preach, when all we make this world to be
Is a living hell torturing our minds.
We all must unite, to turn darkness to light,
And the love in our hearts will shine.

Michael knew that these are not life-lessons that can be learned once a week on Sunday morning. These life lessons need to be lived! The lyrics of this song speak directly and without skirting the issue to this phenomenon! Do we want to see the end of bullying in our schools? Do we want to see the end of children taking their own lives because they believe they are not worthy of love and acceptance as they are?

Then it is incumbent upon us – all of us – to remove those same behaviors from our prime-time television lineup, from our 24-hour news cycle, from our movie theaters, and from our late-night talk show hosts’ monologues!! And we had better do it quickly! And to hell with freedom of speech in this instance! No one has the freedom of bullycide … and that’s what it has come down to … freedom to commit homicide by bullying. Martin Bashir, Anderson Cooper, Diane Dimond, Nancy Grace and all the other so-called purveyors of news do not have a license to kill our heroes – nor do they have the license to teach our children to kill their peers by modeling them!

Freedom of speech is a coveted commodity in our world. Nations which do not enjoy this inalienable right are watching our example and learning from us. It is my fervent prayer that we all make our advertising dollars and our Nielsen ratings decisions based on mutual respect for all of our fellow human beings, including our children.

Jan

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Render Unto Caesar

There is a debate currently raging in the Michael Jackson fan community which I have seen elicit frayed tempers and hastily chosen words. The subject of the debate centers on the new album of previously unreleased music by Michael in collaboration with various other artists and producers with whom he worked in the later years of his life due to be released in November, 2010.

Due to the perceived ill-treatment Michael received from Sony/Epic in 2001, many fans are planning on boycotting the new album – not because of any lack of interest in new music by Michael, but because it is Sony releasing the album. Some of these fans date their dissatisfaction with Sony to its lack of promotion for, as it turned out, Michael’s last studio album, Invincible, an incredible collection of beautiful music easily comparable to any of his best work. I can totally see this point of view. At the time, Michael was embroiled in a very public altercation with Sony/Epic, all of the details of which I remain ignorant. However, he was very vocal about Sony’s treatment of its African-American artists and he called one of the top executives in charge a ‘racist.’ He is on record as saying that major names in the music industry like James Brown and Sammy Davis, Jr. had to tour all the time or they would go broke because they had been exploited by the recording industry and not given a fair share of the royalties they were due. He perceived the upper management at Sony as treating him the same way because it had spectacularly failed to promote Invincible and disseminated the rumor that the album had failed to sell at the rate others had sold previously and that Michael, himself, was a washed up has been and no longer economically viable (thereby sabotaging the album’s earning power, reducing its own profits and shooting itself in the foot.) To me, this seems like a singularly self-defeating attitude and, perhaps, one that contributed to the major executive Michael singled out no longer being associated with Sony/Epic.

Sony’s side of the argument was based on what it touted as “disappointing” sales for Michael’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1 and Invincible (which was not promoted at all in the United States at the time of its release.) Regardless of what Sony disseminates on the grapevine, what other artist does Sony have on its client list that can sell 104 million copies of one album (which is still selling at a rate of approximately 1 million per year despite topping its 25-year anniversary), in excess of 750 million albums over a solo career or 10 million copies in the United States alone of an album that was not promoted? Not very damn many!

History has shown us how true the rumors of economic unfeasibility were. It’s interesting to note that Sony would turn itself inside out to promote the film This Is It and to sign the most lucrative music contract in history with a washed up has been’s estate after his untimely demise to get its greedy little paws on his unreleased material.

During the very public disagreement between Sony and its largest-selling artist in 2001, the World Trade Center in New York City was attacked by fundamentalist terrorists. Michael asked many of the biggest names in the music industry at the time to lend their voices to his last major public humanitarian effort intended to alleviate the suffering of the victims of these attacks and their families. The name of the song he had written for the occasion was What More Can I Give.

It was little known in the United States because it was not released in the country which sustained these attacks! Why? Because it was launched by the largest-selling artist in history with whom Sony was locked in a power struggle, possibly having more to do with his half-ownership of an extremely lucrative catalog of published music and the billion dollar industry it feeds than with anyone’s definition of “disappointing sales.” The fact that What More Can I Give wasn’t released or promoted in the United States of America is unconscionable, reprehensible, indefensible and just plain wrong! As the whole world was uniting in sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, Sony was playing hardball and actively sabotaging an effort aimed at providing financial support to wives and children, fathers and mothers who had lost loved ones in the attacks and in their aftermath.

While indefensible, this lack of empathy for the suffering of others should not have surprised Michael – nor should it surprise us, his fans. As Michael himself sang, “They don’t really care about us!” Sony is one of the largest corporate entities in the world with branches in every country and tentacles in every corporate pie that exists. Corporations don’t have consciences. Corporate morality is an oxymoron – the two words do not belong in the same sentence. It’s like military intelligence – one word cancels the other out. The only morality corporations acknowledge is the ‘almighty dollar.’

Other members of the Michael Jackson fan community feel that Sony/Epic was involved in some way in the court case that contributed to the deterioration in Michael’s health, that there was a conspiracy afoot to render Michael unable to defend his half-ownership of the Sony/ATV catalog, thereby potentially allowing Sony to acquire it (along with the estimated billion dollar industry it feeds.) These fans intend to starve the corporate machine that might have contributed in any way to the demise of their hero.

The operative word here is might. No proof has been found, at least to my knowledge that Sony/Epic was in any way involved in bankrolling the trumped up charges Michael faced in 2005. Until proof is forthcoming, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, even corporations of Sony’s standing. This is the principal we stood by with Michael and it is a good one. It is the law of this land of opportunity for a reason.

Others are hesitant to buy the album because Michael’s perfectionism is well known. These feel that without his direct, hands-on guidance, the quality of the recordings will not be up to Michael’s admittedly perfectionist standards. No one can bring to a recording what Michael Jackson brought to his albums, that one-of-a-kind, unique perspective, vision and personal touch that skyrocketed him to the very top of his profession and kept him there for four decades. Once again, I have to agree with this point of view. There is no doubt that Michael was unique in his adamant refusal to settle for anything less than great from the music, from the engineers, from the musicians, from the producers and from Sony/Epic.

Still other fans are just anxious to hear any new material from Michael. These miss him with a soul-searing agony that no amount of tributes can ever assuage. I know I’m going to sound like I’m all over the place, but, once again, I so totally agree with this viewpoint. This missing is so much deeper and more wounding than others, for some reason. This absence has affected me in ways so deep that the word grief doesn’t even begin to describe it. It is a hole in my soul that only my mentor and teacher of more than 20 years can fill.

As such, I fall into the latter category.  I must go out and buy this album. As a matter of fact, I will probably be the first in line on the date of release to add it to my collection. I have been so inspired by Michael’s music for the last twenty odd years, have found so many deeply emotional and blatantly spiritually uplifting messages within the lyrics of his songs – and have been so changed by them – that I can’t ignore the possibility that there is even more awaiting me. As a matter of fact, that was his promise to us, his fans. His “the-best-is-yet-to-come” attitude was trumpeted far and wide during the later years of his life. I look forward to feeling once again “that tender touch I know so well” that I experience so frequently when listening to Michael’s lovely voice in newly-released material – and in no other way.

As for the perfectionist objection, I must count on the fact that those compiling this album – his collaborating artists and those involved in the recording process – are doing it with Michael in mind. I also depend heavily on Michael, himself, here. He has always been vehemently, painstakingly, obsessively hands-on with all of his projects. It always had to be the best if it carried his name. He would settle for nothing less than perfection. His involvement in every aspect of recording, performing, directing, creating, filming, choosing his dancers was clearly documented in This Is It.

Although extremely shy when placed in some of the extraordinary public situations with which he lived on a nearly constant basis, Michael Jackson was not shy when it came to his product. He knew what he wanted from the music; he knew how to get it and the devil take the hindmost. He worked his dancers until they were poetry in motion; with him in the lead they had to be and they knew it!  He worked his band members and vocalists until they could sing and play his music by osmosis. He worked himself until … okay, we won’t go there! The same went for the lighting crew, the stage crew, the creative people – shoot – it wouldn’t surprise me if the cafeteria personnel and janitorial staff didn’t receive ‘notes’ from Michael Jackson! As Paul Gongaware stated, “He had a vision and he was relentless in getting to that vision.”

Those involved in compiling, producing, recording and releasing this album should be put on notice – never underestimate, discount or ignore Michael Jackson! Even when you think his ability to direct the course of this release has been diminished due to something as seemingly insurmountable as physical death, he will haunt, pester and poke, irritate and annoy, rehearse and drill (in the kindest possible way, of course) those involved in producing this album with his visions for it – just as he haunts, pesters and pokes me to write articles and posts for my little blog or for educational curriculums or for whatever purpose the results will be used. Michael is nothing if not persistent. He recognized no boundaries, no limitations, no restrictions in life. Insurmountable problems became child’s play in his elegant hands. The impossible became graceful, fluid, beautiful!

Why would anyone believe for one second that he would begin now – when he is finally free of the limitations and restrictions inherent in the human condition?!?

In Threatened from Invincible, Michael sings:

You think you’re by yourself, but it’s my touch you felt
I’m not a ghost from Hell, but I’ve got a spell on you
Your worst nightmare, it’s me, I’m everywhere
In one blink I’ll disappear, and then I’ll come back to haunt you
I’m telling you, when you lie in your tomb
I’m the one watching you
That’s why you got to be threatened by me

I think we can all take that as a promise, don’t you? The producers of this album will heed those niggling little tingles or the visions he places in their subconscious minds as they sleep or the flashes of brilliance that seem to come out of nowhere and bowl them over with inspiration. They will follow his directions – or they will not get any sleep, rest assured. I have faith in that! It’s how he has worked in my life for the past twenty odd years (yes, even when he was incarnated.) Physical death has not impeded, lessened or hindered his ability to haunt my dreams or my wakefulness (Thank you, beloved! I am so grateful!) They will not be let off any easier. Michael will be involved in this release as he has been in all the others. This is guaranteed!

This entire debate reminds me of the incident related in the Gospels between Jesus and the Pharisees who had come to Jesus to ask him a question that was really intended to entangle him in controversy, to trip him up. The Pharisees asked if a righteous man should pay the taxes demanded by the Romans. If Jesus had answered yes, then the Pharisees could report to the Sanhedrin that Jesus was a Roman sympathizer; if he had answered no, then the Pharisees could report to the Romans that Jesus was instigating rebellion. They thought they had him caught between a rock and a hard place. They were victims of limited thinking, poor souls – and they underestimated Jesus! As I recall, Jesus asked for a coin. Of course, all coins were minted by the Romans. When a coin was proffered, Jesus asked whose likeness was inscribed on the coin and the Pharisees replied that it was Caesar’s likeness. Then, Jesus spoke the words, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In the context of this article, Caesar represents the establishment, the money-making clique, Sony/Epic, of course. If they were involved in any kind of conspiracy that resulted in contributing to Michael’s death, proof needs to be found of that conspiracy at which time they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Until then, Sony/Epic has signed a contractual agreement with Michael’s estate to distribute new, unreleased material. They will promote this album because not doing so would limit their receipts and hit them pretty hard in the pocket. I don’t think they are going to be that stupid a second time. If they don’t perform as they are legally required, Branca will hit them with a huge breach of contract suit and defending it will be another large hit in the pocket. So, they lose twice! If they do their jobs as outlined in the contract, they should be paid in accordance with the provisions of that contract.

So, I won’t feel any guilt about paying for my album as I always have! With much the same heart-pounding ecstasy as a child locked in a room with a hundred Christmas presents that are all whirring and ticking and rattling – and told not to touch them – I will probably rip the cellophane off the CD, slit the tamper-proof seal and plug that disc into my player at the first opportunity (after locking the door, of course.) I will then find a comfortable chair, preferably my own little recliner, and my headphones and I will sit back and allow myself to relax and be rocked in Michael’s heart as I always have with his new releases. I won’t even share the joy of my first hearing with the molecules of oxygen that are dancing a constant “molecular jiggle” in the atmosphere in my room. This will be a private sacrament of sharing between my mentor and my soul. I look forward to it with great anticipation.

As Michael writes in Dancing the Dream, “If a child wants chocolate ice cream, he just asks for it. Adults get tangled up in complications over whether to eat the ice cream or not. A child simply enjoys.” I will be that child; I will simply enjoy being with Michael again. Being introduced by him to the next steps in my journey at his side will hold nothing but unmitigated pleasure.

Jan

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Our Love’s An Ocean

There is a global phenomenon occurring that I think is worthy of attention. I have been perplexed by this phenomenon several times in the past few months and each time it happens, I have to pause and muse. I admit to being somewhat baffled by it; at the same time, I also admit to being soothed, warmed by a peculiar glow when my attention is drawn to it. I have to roll my eyes and chuckle because I know that Michael Jackson is giggling where he is; he’s messing with us and totally enjoying our puzzlement!

I know what is happening. Many of us who are receptive to the vibe are being inspired in the same ways at the same time even though separated by distance. I have evidence of the phenomenon when I open my computer and log on to my favorite sites. I don’t question the phenomenon, itself. How could I when it has touched me so often and with such regularity?

What I am trying to do is reconcile what logic would call ‘coincidences’ that continue to pile up like newspapers on the front porch of vacationing neighbors who have overstayed their scheduled absence. I don’t believe in ‘coincidences’ – to me, a coincidence is God or spirit trying to get my attention, as I’ve stated in previous postings. Instead of doubting the phenomenon or trying to discount it as a random occurrence with no meaning or purpose, I am trying to figure out how this phenomenon is occurring – the mechanics of the thing. Because to say that it is a game of chance – a Russian roulette – just doesn’t make any sense and denies the intention producing the phenomenon. That the deliberate intention exists, I have no doubt. The frequency – and intensity – and regularity of the occurrences preclude such a nonsensical answer. Others in my circle of internet companions are experiencing the same kinds of occurrences. It’s not just me.

There is a shift occurring – and the shift that is occurring is happening to a lot of us on this planet at the same time – sometimes in the same words – and many of us are reacting to it in the same manner. Now, that was as clear as mud, wasn’t it? Let me explain.

I recently talked with an internet colleague on the phone. We were discussing the ideas we had been having – and choosing to bring into reality with our words — about Michael Jackson (my favorite topic, of course.) Both of us are writers and the pieces we had been writing (mine a fictional story, hers a play) expressed many of the same thoughts, the same concepts – although our approaches were somewhat different. We live in separate states, have never met face-to-face and do not converse on the phone frequently. We do, however, visit each other’s websites with a fair amount of regularity (which one would describe, I suppose, as a distant and impersonal relationship.) It was uncanny to realize during our conversation that she had been receiving much the same inspiration as I had been – and at approximately the same time. My fictional story and her play dealt with very similar concepts – and they were concepts that would be described by most casual observers as uncommon at the very least – odd, eccentric, downright lunatic or spooky at the very most.

On another occasion, I wrote an entry and posted it on my little website and another cyber-friend wrote me that she had been strongly drawn by one of the same quotes that had gotten my attention (and upon which I had partially based my entry) and had planned to write a posting on her blog using the same concept, but she had not gotten around to writing her article due to her busy schedule. She envisioned hers going in a slightly different direction. To me, that just makes sense because we all sift information and ideas and inspirations through our individual filtering apparatus formed by our life experiences and belief systems. So, although we both may have had the same concept poke us in the heart – and continue poking us until we sit down and do something about it (Michael is nothing if not persistent) – write it – our articles would not be identical but would share the concept.

On yet another occasion, I had had a few words running through my head like a 747 circling O’Hare Airport in heavy fog and had wanted to try my hand at writing poetry using those words, but I hadn’t been able to get my efforts to express what I wanted them to say. After several attempts to bend the words to my will, I shrugged, threw my poor attempts in the trash and moved on. Several days after I gave up on my concept (or to be more accurate, decided to come back to it later), I visited a friend’s website only to find that she had written a poem using the same words that had been in a holding pattern over my head for weeks. She had gotten those words to dance for her. The astonishing thing is that her poem expressed exactly what I had wanted to say with them! Not roughly– not approximately – exactly! The tone, the emotion, the pain, the pathos, the inquiry, the pleading, the concept were all there.

A feeling akin to a low voltage electrical shock went up and down my spine when I read her poem. It was so what I had wanted to be able to express! Even the photograph used to accompany the poem was perfect!

This phenomenon has been occurring with such attention-riveting regularity since June 25, 2009 – and is escalating as time progresses — that I can only surmise that we are all catching a vibration that is being transmitted without radio waves or satellites, transmitters or receivers. We are all “drinking the same Kool-Aid” as one of my friends would say. I can only assume that these inspirations are coming from the same place that Michael Jackson claimed his came from – heaven or on high or the cosmos – or from Michael Jackson, which is the same thing, now, in my opinion.

The feeling reminds me very much of the state of mind I inhabited in the 1990’s, when I first became attracted to Michael’s music and began to discover the human being – the heart and the soul – behind it. At the time, I devoured everything I could find that he had been involved with in any way, collected music and performances, read every book that mentioned him, even in passing, and immersed myself in Michael to the exclusion of all other interests, pastimes or hobbies. Then, the allegations! My first reaction when I heard the news was, “Oh, my God – this is going to kill him!” And I knew in my heart that I had to DO something! Those who have read Collector of Souls on this website know that I did, indeed, end up doing something. I’ve talked about the events that occurred before.

What I’d like to express, if possible, in this article is the emotion I was experiencing at the time. It was overwhelming! It was totally illogical and made absolutely no sense at all. Nonetheless, I felt like he needed me! I hear my readers thinking. “Yeah, right! Michael Jackson needed you!” I know, as illogical – even delusional as that sentence may sound, it was the strongest feeling I had ever had. I felt that in some strange fashion, he and I were sharing some kind of deeply spiritual connection – an awareness, for lack of a better word – one that couldn’t be explained, perhaps – but a connection that I couldn’t deny. He may not have been aware of that connection, but I was! Perhaps, someone else could have talked, argued or cajoled herself out of the feeling, but I couldn’t. I could only act on that connection, which I did.

Through the ensuing decade that strong feeling of connection – of union at a deep and unseen level – only increased in intensity. I wrote stories in which I placed love in Michael’s life as he toured the world with his HIStory Tour in the guise of a little, green-eyed angel by the name of Angelique. The odd thing was that I actually fervently believed that I could reach out through her to comfort his aloneness and isolation, to tickle his playfulness, to bring him peace, to support his mission – using that awareness connection as a channel, a tunnel through which my love could heal him.

The feeling never went away until I, myself, denied that such a thing was possible and stopped believing in it. Of course, I was helped in this denial by circumstances in my real life (as opposed to my secret life as a Michael Jackson wannabe groupie) that went a little crazier than normal. I denied the connection because I allowed doubt to enter, because I listened to those around me who told me that “such things are just not possible” – that it was all in my “imagination” – that I had manufactured that sense of awareness out of a “hormonal or chemical imbalance.” I sabotaged the connection in my ignorance of the mechanics at work.

I talked myself out of the most rewarding and spiritually fulfilling interlude I had ever experienced. And I so missed that connection when it was gone! I prayed so earnestly for its return. I tried to force it into submission, but failed miserably in the attempt. My words were gone. My heart that had filled those words with so much empathy and love and spiritual sustenance was gone. My soul seemed to have taken a leave of absence during which he needed me again – desperately – and I wasn’t paying attention enough to support him with my prayers for his safety and well-being in the stories and articles I was no longer writing.

Then, June 25, 2009! Can you imagine my guilt, my desperation, my longing for a do-over? At first, I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be true! But it was and I was abject in my misery while still trying to perform the duties my life circumstances had handed me with as much efficiency as possible.

Well, that feeling has returned – the one that I didn’t think I would ever feel again – that connection or awareness or spiritual union – or whatever one could label it has visited me once again. Perhaps, the urgency is a little less intense, but it’s the same feeling. And I am so grateful to be given “just one more chance.” Please, God, I won’t blow it so spectacularly a second time.

Perhaps, a more apt analogy than that of sucking a vibration out of the ether without benefit of hardware or software designed for the task of downloading those vibrations would be that we are all islands in an ocean of L.O.V.E. Separated by geographical location or generation or life circumstances, we are acquainted through the information super-highway. We’ve never met and have seldom spoken on the telephone, but we know each other at a deep level because we share a sensitivity to these ideas bombarding our shorelines. There’s been no back story, no personal history, no prior spiritual relationship between us. The tide of inspiration that washes each of our shores has the same source – the ocean of L.O.V.E. that isolates but, at the same time, unites us, touching each one of us. If we are open to the compulsion, we are bathed in that tidal wave of inspiration as it washes ashore on our sandy beaches and then ebbs back into the ocean only to return with stronger force to permeate the sandy beach of our souls again. We drink from it thirstily, allowing those revelations to have their way with us, simmering and hibernating until they are cast forth in articles or poems or fictional stories or case studies or music or paintings or whatever form our particular talent, life experiences, belief systems, passions call into existence. “And the whole world abounds in magic!”

The same ocean touches the shoreline in Oregon and San Diego as the one that washes the beach in Hawaii and Japan and Australia and Mexico. Each takes nourishment from it and redistributes its wealth to fill its own individual needs, filtering its richness as it washes the sands clean. Although we are islands – separate – we are joined in that ocean of L.O.V.E. – and we are moved in various ways to express that communion within our lives, to acknowledge it, to recognize it for the blessing it is, to be grateful for it!

It is common knowledge that when Michael Jackson was preparing to produce a new album, he wrote far more songs than he could ever use and would choose from among the best of them for inclusion on the disc, leaving many unreleased. One of the songs rejected for the BAD album (1987) was a lovely, ballad called Fly Away. Later, he gave the song to his oldest sister, Reebie (Maureen), for her to sing on her album, Faithfully Yours (1993?), with his voice singing background vocals. Later still, the song was released with Michael’s voice singing both background and lead vocals, as it was originally intended, on the Special Limited Edition of BAD. I often wondered what the verses meant. The lyrics read:

Our love’s an ocean
Give me a notion cuz
You know I’ll never part
I love too hard
Our love’s a season
Give me a reason cuz
You know I’ll never part
Our love goodbye
And together we’ll fly
I’ll give you my heart
No place too far for us
We don’t need it
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Fly away
Gonna stay
Love today
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Fly way
Gonna stay
Love is here to stay.

Now, so many years later, a light dawns and I begin to see a more in-depth meaning to the lyrics. I’ve always loved the song, itself. The melody is lovely. Michael’s voice as he sings the first verse at half tempo without accompaniment of any kind is heartbreakingly, stunningly beautiful and his backing vocals are a song by themselves, as is true of so many of his backgrounds, the harmonies rising and falling in time with the melody.

“Our love’s an ocean” indeed! We are all drops within the ocean; we are all islands washed by that same ocean. In so many of his songs, I see deeper meaning now that he has embarked on his next assignment for the One who placed the seas in their chasms and the firmaments in their domes. Many of his songs speak directly to us, his fans, to his relationship with us and to our confusion or dismay at his absence. We were the major love of Michael Jackson’s life for his entire journey on this planet, as he told us many, many times.

What other musical artist sends pillows and blankets sailing out of hotel windows (after signing them, of course) because his fans camped outside might be cold and uncomfortable? Who else has pizzas and hamburgers delivered to the crowds below his balconies because we might be hungry in our long vigils? I guess it makes sense that he would leave us little hidden messages that, coincidentally, answer some of our questions in his music and lyrics – messages that we would, perhaps, not pick up on until now when our hearts and souls require his healing so very much. “Our love’s an ocean” and he still speaks to us as the waves ebb and flow over the beaches on the atolls of our hearts and souls.

The communication is subtle, but very real. And, Dear One, we are so grateful for your continued presence among us and your music in the battering of the surf against the cliffs of our doubts.

Jan

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