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Summer Rewind 2013, Week 3: I’ll Be There

NOTE:  The following conversation was originally posted on October 17, 2012. To read the original post and comments, please click here.

Let Me Fill Your Heart with Joy and Laughter

Willa: You know, Joie, Michael Jackson’s short films can really take you places – just the full gamut of emotions. Like Thriller has this intriguing mix of fear and desire and repression and release: it’s like he’s holding himself in through the first part, and when he finally breaks loose and starts singing and dancing, it’s exhilarating! And just think about all the different emotions in the Billie Jean video, or The Way You Make Me Feel, or Bad, or Who Is It, or Stranger in Moscow, or Earth Song, or Ghosts, or You Rock My World, or …

Joie: Ok, ok. I get your point! There are a lot of short films and a whole lot of emotions.

Willa: Oops. Sorry! Didn’t mean to get carried away. But you know what I mean. Everything he touched is so nuanced and fascinating – even a Pepsi commercial. I’m thinking about the “I’ll Be There” video duet between the younger and older Michael Jackson:

And it’s a Pepsi commercial, for Pete’s sake. But it evokes so many different emotions.

Joie: Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more on that, Willa. I just love that commercial. I only wish it were an actual video of the entire song because it’s way too short. And you’re right, it does stir up a lot of emotions. For long-time fans especially, I think this one can get pretty poignant.

Willa: Oh, it is so poignant – that’s the perfect word for it. You know, I’ve been thinking about “I’ll Be There” a lot lately, ever since Kris, Eleanor, and Nina posted comments about the connections to “Will You Be There.” I was so intrigued by that. In fact, we talked about it a little bit a few weeks ago – about “I’ll Be There,” “You Were There,” and “Will You Be There” – and I’ve been thinking about the I’ll Be There duet ever since. It’s so moving, and while it’s more subtle than “Childhood,” for example, it stirs up so many emotions.

You know, I think what’s so captivating about this video is that we see the older Michael Jackson interacting with the younger Michael Jackson in ways that completely contradict the dominant narrative in the media. The pop psychology that many critics forced onto him in later years was that his older self literally embodied a rejection of his younger self: that as he grew older he rejected his race and his father and his whole family actually, and Motown and all his old friends and the people who helped him along he way, and his life as a child star, and that he even rejected his own body – that he rejected his face and his afro and the color of his skin. He rejected more and more and more until he became completely isolated and paranoid and living a Howard Hughes-type existence.

Joie: Yes. That is the story that the media, and many critics it would seem, would like for us to believe.

Willa: It really does seem that way, doesn’t it? It’s like they all fell in line behind that one narrative and kept repeating it over and over again. And I never believed it. It’s true that his feelings about his childhood were complicated, and so were his feelings about his father and his family. I mean, let’s face it – his whole life was complicated. But there were obviously a lot of different emotions at work, and it’s a gross over-simplification – and completely wrong, I think – to reduce it all down to “he hated his childhood and now he hates his father and his family and himself.”

Joie: I couldn’t agree with you more, Willa. And I, for one, am so tired of hearing that Michael Jackson hated himself. I don’t believe that anyone so full of self-loathing could be so compassionate toward his fellow man. If anything I would think that someone who hated himself that much would have very little, if no regard at all for others. That argument just doesn’t make sense to me.

Willa: Me either, and it doesn’t feel right either. When I listen to his songs or watch his videos, I simply don’t experience flashes of hatred or self-loathing. It’s just not there. But it’s true there are a lot of mixed emotions sometimes, especially about his childhood, and we can see some of that complexity in the I’ll Be There video duet – especially in how his older self relates to and responds to those images of his younger self.

What strikes me most when watching this video is the strong emotional pull he still feels toward his younger self. There’s a lot of affection in this video for his younger self, I think, and sympathy as well, and I get the feeling he wishes he could protect him somehow. There’s a very melancholy mood in this video, and I wonder if he’s thinking about all the things his younger self had already been through and would have to face in the years ahead. Maybe that’s where that melancholia comes from, and what makes this such a bittersweet video to watch.

Joie: Again, I agree with you completely. It does have a very bittersweet feel about it and you do get the sense that he is thinking about all of the things that young boy has already gone through as well as all of the challenges he’s going to have to face in the future. He knows the difficult obstacles that boy is going to have to overcome and he knows how hard those times are going to be for him. Yet, at the same time, he still seems so hopeful in this clip.

Willa: He really does, doesn’t he? And reassured when his younger self finally starts to sing. It’s like his older self can’t really get into the song until his younger self fully emerges and begins singing too. But once he’s there, the two join together in song and he – his older self and younger self both – seem so joyful and … complete, if that makes sense.

That feeling that he can’t really express himself fully until his younger self joins him is so powerful to me, especially when I think of all the times he talked about the connections between childhood and creativity. It’s like he needs the presence of his younger self to be an artist – he isn’t complete as an artist without him.

Joie: That’s really true, Willa. And it makes me think of that old quote by Picasso, I think it was, where he said that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” And it seems that Michael figured out that the way to do that – to remain an artist once you grow up – is to stay connected to that magic of childhood. As he himself once said:

“One of my favorite pastimes is being with children, talking to them and playing with them. Children know a lot of secrets [about the world] and it’s difficult to get them to tell. Children are incredible. They go through a brilliant phase, but then when they reach a certain age, they lose it. My most creative moments have almost always come when I’m with children. When I’m with them, the music comes to me as easily as breathing.”

The fact that he felt his most creative when surrounded by children I think says a lot about how important that childlike wonder was to him. And, as you said, you can really feel that in the I’ll Be There commercial when he’s singing with his younger self.

Willa: That’s such an important point, Joie. And you know, that makes me wonder if maybe there’s another way to interpret “I’ll Be There,” that beautiful song he sang as a child – not as a promise to a girlfriend or to us as an audience, but as a promise to himself. He will be there for himself. He will protect and preserve the childlike part of himself and stay true to himself, and he will always be there for himself. When his older self is sitting at the piano and senses the presence of his younger self, and then the two join together in song, it like he’s telling us he kept that promise: his younger self is still very present and alive in him, and expresses himself through him.

Joie: Oh, wow. Willa, that was inspired. I never looked at it like that before and I actually got goosebumps just now! That makes so much sense. What a wonderful way to interpret that song.

Willa: It is beautiful, isn’t it? I hadn’t looked at it that way before either until you quoted those wonderful lines about children and creativity. Hearing those words, “When I’m with them, the music comes to me as easily as breathing,” it suddenly struck me that we see that idea enacted in the video duet. He’s sitting at the piano singing in a quiet, hesitant way, and then the music “comes to him” at the precise moment a child appears. But in this case, that child is himself – his younger self.

Joie: It is a beautiful thought, Willa. But, as is always the case with Michael Jackson, this wonderful little clip was not without its share of controversy. This was Michael’s final commercial for Pepsi. You know, they had enjoyed a great partnership for many years. Starting in 1983, they had a very lucrative and mutually beneficial association. But all that ended, of course, in 1993.

This commercial was filmed in 1992 and it aired outside the US in 1993. It was actually never shown in the United States at all. But the controversy came about because it was reported by the New York Post that Michael insisted a White child portray his younger self in the commercial. Now, I have no idea if the child actor in this commercial was actually White or not because his face is never really shown up close so, it doesn’t matter anyway. The old footage of the Jackson 5 used during the commercial gets the point across whether the actor is White or Black. So, I never really understood what the big deal was here.

Willa: Yeah, I really don’t know much about that either. My understanding is that they had an open audition for young dancers, and the best dancer was White – he really had the Jackson 5 moves down, apparently. And I can certainly see Michael Jackson “insisting” that the best dancer be hired, regardless of race – that’s perfectly in keeping with his beliefs and what we know about him. And I can certainly see how the New York Post would try to generate a controversy about that. That’s perfectly in keeping with what we know about them too.

But as you say, none of that really registers when you watch the video, which is so heartfelt and beautiful. And it’s really moving listening to the lyrics as a conversation between his younger self and his older self. His older self sings, “I have faith in all you do,” and his younger self responds, “Just let me fill your heart with joy and laughter.” It’s perfect. And then they both make a pledge to one another: “I’ll be there.” Beautiful.

Joie: It is beautiful, Willa. And honestly, I believe this was just a case of the media creating a controversy about Michael Jackson when there really was none. As you said, it was all about hiring the best dancer regardless of race because the actual race of the actor in the commercial is impossible to discern anyway.

And the bottom line is that, it is such a sweet, heartfelt video clip that perfectly captures Michael Jackson’s heart and his spirit. And it is just such a joy to watch.

Let Me Fill Your Heart With Joy and Laughter

Willa:  You know, Joie, Michael Jackson’s short films can really take you places – just the full gamut of emotions. Like Thriller has this intriguing mix of fear and desire and repression and release:  it’s like he’s holding himself in through the first part, and when he finally breaks loose and starts singing and dancing, it’s exhilarating! And just think about all the different emotions in the Billie Jean video, or The Way You Make Me Feel, or Bad, or Who Is It, or Stranger in Moscow, or Earth Song, or Ghosts, or You Rock My World, or …

Joie:  Ok, ok. I get your point! There are a lot of short films and a whole lot of emotions.

Willa:  Oops. Sorry!  Didn’t mean to get carried away. But you know what I mean. Everything he touched is so nuanced and fascinating – even a Pepsi commercial.  I’m thinking about the “I’ll Be There” video duet between the younger and older Michael Jackson:

And it’s a Pepsi commercial, for Pete’s sake. But it evokes so many different emotions.

Joie:  Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more on that, Willa. I just love that commercial. I only wish it were an actual video of the entire song because it’s way too short. And you’re right, it does stir up a lot of emotions. For long-time fans especially, I think this one can get pretty poignant.

Willa:  Oh, it is so poignant – that’s the perfect word for it. You know, I’ve been thinking about “I’ll Be There” a lot lately, ever since Kris, Eleanor, and Nina posted comments about the connections to “Will You Be There.” I was so intrigued by that. In fact, we talked about it a little bit a few weeks ago – about “I’ll Be There,” “You Were There,” and “Will You Be There” – and I’ve been thinking about the I’ll Be There duet ever since. It’s so moving, and while it’s more subtle than “Childhood,” for example, it stirs up so many emotions.

You know, I think what’s so captivating about this video is that we see the older Michael Jackson interacting with the younger Michael Jackson in ways that completely contradict the dominant narrative in the media. The pop psychology that many critics forced onto him in later years was that his older self literally embodied a rejection of his younger self:  that as he grew older he rejected his race and his father and his whole family actually, and Motown and all his old friends and the people who helped him along he way, and his life as a child star, and that he even rejected his own body – that he rejected his face and his afro and the color of his skin. He rejected more and more and more until he became completely isolated and paranoid and living a Howard Hughes-type existence.

Joie:  Yes. That is the story that the media, and many critics it would seem, would like for us to believe.

Willa:  It really does seem that way, doesn’t it? It’s like they all fell in line behind that one narrative and kept repeating it over and over again. And I never believed it. It’s true that his feelings about his childhood were complicated, and so were his feelings about his father and his family. I mean, let’s face it – his whole life was complicated. But there were obviously a lot of different emotions at work, and it’s a gross over-simplification – and completely wrong, I think – to reduce it all down to “he hated his childhood and now he hates his father and his family and himself.”

Joie:  I couldn’t agree with you more, Willa. And I, for one, am so tired of hearing that Michael Jackson hated himself. I don’t believe that anyone so full of self-loathing could be so compassionate toward his fellow man. If anything I would think that someone who hated himself that much would have very little, if no regard at all for others. That argument just doesn’t make sense to me.

Willa:  Me either, and it doesn’t feel right either. When I listen to his songs or watch his videos, I simply don’t experience flashes of hatred or self-loathing. It’s just not there. But it’s true there are a lot of mixed emotions sometimes, especially about his childhood, and we can see some of that complexity in the I’ll Be There video duet – especially in how his older self relates to and responds to those images of his younger self.

What strikes me most when watching this video is the strong emotional pull he still feels toward his younger self. There’s a lot of affection in this video for his younger self, I think, and sympathy as well, and I get the feeling he wishes he could protect him somehow. There’s a very melancholy mood in this video, and I wonder if he’s thinking about all the things his younger self had already been through and would have to face in the years ahead. Maybe that’s where that melancholia comes from, and what makes this such a bittersweet video to watch.

Joie:  Again, I agree with you completely. It does have a very bittersweet feel about it and you do get the sense that he is thinking about all of the things that young boy has already gone through as well as all of the challenges he’s going to have to face in the future. He knows the difficult obstacles that boy is going to have to overcome and he knows how hard those times are going to be for him. Yet, at the same time, he still seems so hopeful in this clip.

Willa:  He really does, doesn’t he? And reassured when his younger self finally starts to sing. It’s like his older self can’t really get into the song until his younger self fully emerges and begins singing too. But once he’s there, the two join together in song and he – his older self and younger self both – seem so joyful and … complete, if that makes sense.

That feeling that he can’t really express himself fully until his younger self joins him is so powerful to me, especially when I think of all the times he talked about the connections between childhood and creativity. It’s like he needs the presence of his younger self to be an artist – he isn’t complete as an artist without him.

Joie:  That’s really true, Willa. And it makes me think of that old quote by Picasso, I think it was, where he said that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” And it seems that Michael figured out that the way to do that – to remain an artist once you grow up – is to stay connected to that magic of childhood. As he himself once said:

“One of my favorite pastimes is being with children, talking to them and playing with them. Children know a lot of secrets [about the world] and it’s difficult to get them to tell. Children are incredible. They go through a brilliant phase, but then when they reach a certain age, they lose it. My most creative moments have almost always come when I’m with children. When I’m with them, the music comes to me as easily as breathing.”

The fact that he felt his most creative when surrounded by children I think says a lot about how important that childlike wonder was to him. And, as you said, you can really feel that in the I’ll Be There commercial when he’s singing with his younger self.

Willa:  That’s such an important point, Joie. And you know, that makes me wonder if maybe there’s another way to interpret “I’ll Be There,” that beautiful song he sang as a child – not as a promise to a girlfriend or to us as an audience, but as a promise to himself. He will be there for himself. He will protect and preserve the childlike part of himself and stay true to himself, and he will always be there for himself. When his older self is sitting at the piano and senses the presence of his younger self, and then the two join together in song, it like he’s telling us he kept that promise:  his younger self is still very present and alive in him, and expresses himself through him.

Joie:  Oh, wow. Willa, that was inspired. I never looked at it like that before and I actually got goosebumps just now! That makes so much sense. What a wonderful way to interpret that song.

Willa:  It is beautiful, isn’t it? I hadn’t looked at it that way before either until you quoted those wonderful lines about children and creativity. Hearing those words, “When I’m with them, the music comes to me as easily as breathing,” it suddenly struck me that we see that idea enacted in the video duet. He’s sitting at the piano singing in a quiet, hesitant way, and then the music “comes to him” at the precise moment a child appears. But in this case, that child is himself – his younger self.

Joie:  It is a beautiful thought, Willa. But, as is always the case with Michael Jackson, this wonderful little clip was not without its share of controversy. This was Michael’s final commercial for Pepsi. You know, they had enjoyed a great partnership for many years. Starting in 1983, they had a very lucrative and mutually beneficial association. But all that ended, of course, in 1993.

This commercial was filmed in 1992 and it aired outside the US in 1993. It was actually never shown in the United States at all. But the controversy came about because it was reported by the New York Post that Michael insisted a White child portray his younger self in the commercial. Now, I have no idea if the child actor in this commercial was actually White or not because his face is never really shown up close so, it doesn’t matter anyway. The old footage of the Jackson 5 used during the commercial gets the point across whether the actor is White or Black. So, I never really understood what the big deal was here.

Willa:  Yeah, I really don’t know much about that either. My understanding is that they had an open audition for young dancers, and the best dancer was White – he really had the Jackson 5 moves down, apparently. And I can certainly see Michael Jackson “insisting” that the best dancer be hired, regardless of race – that’s perfectly in keeping with his beliefs and what we know about him. And I can certainly see how the New York Post would try to generate a controversy about that. That’s perfectly in keeping with what we know about them too.

But as you say, none of that really registers when you watch the video, which is so heartfelt and beautiful. And it’s really moving listening to the lyrics as a conversation between his younger self and his older self. His older self sings, “I have faith in all you do,” and his younger self responds, “Just let me fill your heart with joy and laughter.” It’s perfect. And then they both make a pledge to one another: “I’ll be there.” Beautiful.

Joie:  It is beautiful, Willa. And honestly, I believe this was just a case of the media creating a controversy about Michael Jackson when there really was none. As you said, it was all about hiring the best dancer regardless of race because the actual race of the actor in the commercial is impossible to discern anyway.

And the bottom line is that, it is such a sweet, heartfelt video clip that perfectly captures Michael Jackson’s heart and his spirit. And it is just such a joy to watch.

Happy Birthday, Michael: You Made Them Care

Willa:  Hi Joie. So we’re back!  Did you have a good summer?

Joie:  Yeah, it was nice. We didn’t take a real vacation or anything but we did spend a couple of great weekends up at the Lake.

Willa:  Oh, that sounds nice! I know how much you love the lake. I spent a lot of my summer camping and hiking with teenagers and pre-teens, which was a blast, and Joie, I just have to tell you this story. I was in Mesa Verde, which is such an amazing place with these beautiful 700-year-old cliff-dwellings. There’s something very restful and peaceful, and very spiritual about those dwellings.

Anyway, the second day I was driving along the top of a mesa with “Earth Song” playing on the stereo, and it was a gorgeous morning and just seemed so perfect. And then I looked to my left and saw four wild mustangs running along beside us! We went along side by side for quite a while, but gradually they came closer and closer so I slowed down, and one of them ran in front of me, spun around, and then stood there tossing his head up and down. It was magnificent! Later I talked to one of the guides, and he said there are about 150 wild horses in Mesa Verde but they usually stay down in the canyons grazing. But every so often they’ll come up onto the mesa tops. It was so incredible! Now I think about those wild horses every time I hear “Earth Song.”

Joie:  Wow! Oh, I bet that was beautiful, Willa. So, how loud was your car stereo? Maybe they could hear “Earth Song” and they liked it!

Willa:  I don’t know if they heard it, but someone did. I had three kids with me – a 16-year-old up front and a 14-year-old and 12-year-old in back. The 14- and 12-year-old were pretty excited, but the 16-year-old stayed expressionless the entire time – he seems to be going through a “cool” phase. But the next day, he came up to me and asked, “What was that song you were playing yesterday? The one that goes like this …” and then he sang the long “ah, ah, ah” section of “Earth Song” note for note – you know, the part in the video where everyone is digging their hands into the earth. I was blown away. So even though he didn’t show much emotion at the time, I think he got it. Something happened, anyway.

So today would have been Michael Jackson’s 54th birthday and I was trying to think of a meaningful way to commemorate that. So I started wondering what Michael Jackson himself would do to remember the birthday of a person he admired, and that reminded me of the song he wrote and performed for Sammy Davis, Jr., for his 60th birthday:

He only performed it that one time and it rarely gets mentioned, but it’s so moving. The lyrics are really powerful, and the look on Sammy Davis’ face as watches Michael Jackson sing those words … You can tell how much it means to him.

Joie:  That’s true, Willa; from the look on his face, you can tell he is just so moved by Michael’s words. And really, when you listen to it, it’s not difficult to understand why. It is a very emotional and personal message Michael is conveying in this song. And you can really feel his depth of emotion as he’s performing this special song for one of his idols. Those words he’s singing obviously mean a lot to him. It’s quite moving.

Willa:  It really is, and it’s also a very stylized performance, if that makes sense – it almost seems like a performance from another era. It’s like he isn’t just paying tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr., through his lyrics, but through these very stylized gestures as well. He also incorporates iconic poses that are distinctively his own, but they seems perfectly in sync with what’s gone before, so it’s like he’s demonstrating through his performance how his movements fit within this tradition of dance and gesture that’s gone before him.

Joie:  Oh, I agree with you; I think a lot of his movements during this performance are very reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr. and the way he moved. So, you’re right, it’s like he’s paying tribute through the song itself, but also through his movements.

You know, Willa, I haven’t listened to this song in a while but, do you know what strikes me as I watch that clip now? I can’t help but think about all the young artists out there now who are suddenly looking to Michael and citing him as one of their greatest influences. Artists like Justin Bieber and Chris Brown and others. They all look to Michael as one of their heroes just like Michael looked to Sammy Davis and James Brown and Jackie Wilson.

Willa:  I see what you mean, Joie. The tradition is continuing on in a powerful way through this new generation of artists, and Michael Jackson played a very important part in furthering that tradition – he carried the baton a long way! But I also think there’s something very special that Sammy Davis, Jr., and Michael Jackson share in common, and that’s how they both broke through racial barriers – and paid a big price for doing that. As Michael Jackson sings so movingly,

You were there, before we came
You took the hurt, you took the shame
They built the walls to block your way
You beat them down, you won the day
 
It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair
You taught them all, you made them care
Yes, you were there, and thanks to you,
There’s now a door we all walk through
 
And we are here, for all to see
To be the best that we can be
Yes, I am here
‘Cause you were there  

I think he’s singing pretty explicitly about the racism Sammy Davis, Jr., confronted. “It wasn’t right” and “it wasn’t fair,” as Michael Jackson sings, but he endured it. “You took the hurt, you took the shame.” And because of that, “thanks to you / There’s now a door we all walk through.” I think that “we” he’s talking about in these lines is specifically black artists whose lives and careers were a little bit easier because Sammy Davis, Jr., broke ground for them.

Joie:  Yes, I agree with you totally. And I also believe that there are many Black artists out there now who feel the exact same way about Michael Jackson. After all, if it hadn’t been for him and the racial barrier he knocked down at MTV, for example, there would be hundreds of other Black artists who may have never had their videos included in rotation on that station. Likewise, if it hadn’t been for Michael’s amazing cross-over success with the Thriller album, there could be hundreds of Black artists today who may never have tasted similar success.

Willa:  I think that’s really true and really important, Joie, and I hope they’re able to draw strength from Michael Jackson’s life and career the way he seemed to draw strength from the stories of those who went before him. You know, when things were so bad for him after the molestation allegations came out and during the battles with Sony and the 2005 trial, he cited the struggles of those who’d gone before him, and seemed to gain comfort and strength from those stories.

And that makes me think about the title of this song. You know, last spring we talked about “Will You Be There,” and Kris, Eleanor, and Nina had a very interesting and very moving conversation in the comments section about the special symbolic connection between “I’ll Be There” and “Will You Be There.” As Kris wrote,

we have this child who starts out touching us with the purest, most angelic voice, telling us “I’ll Be There,” “just call my name, I’ll be there to comfort you,” etc. And he grows into this man who finds himself really honestly asking “will you be there for me,” and so sadly, it often seemed the answer was no. The two sides of that coin and the truth they tell about his life are very poignant for me.

I know what Kris means – it’s very poignant for me too. But I’ve been thinking lately that maybe there’s a third song in this series:  “You Were There.”

I’ve been thinking lately that there was a small group who was always there to encourage him and give him strength and courage when he needed it, and it included people like Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Chuck Berry, Jack Johnson, Mohammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, and Nelson Mandela – in other words, the black artists and fighters and political figures who had gone before him, who had walked that path before him, and experienced the same kinds of prejudice and persecution and ridicule he faced. Looking at that list, it’s pretty shocking how many were either imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment through no fault of their own – they were simply too powerful to be endured – and I think Michael Jackson drew strength from that knowledge.

Joie:  Hmm. That’s an interesting thought, Willa. The idea that this song forms a sort of trilogy with the other two songs Kris, Eleanor, and Nina were discussing. In fact, I’d be really interested to hear their thoughts on your assessment – so ladies, if you’re reading, please weigh in.

You know, Willa, I think the best part about this song is that it’s just so sincere and heartfelt. It really is just a sweet little song, don’t you think? I mean, it was never recorded and never offered for sale or download as far as I know. Michael only performed it that one time that I know of and yet, I think most fans – even a lot of the new fans – have been aware of it for quite some time. I believe that’s because it’s always been sort of a “fan favorite” and so it’s been passed around from fan to fan. Sort of like when news of something really great spreads via word-of-mouth rather than by conventional promotion. I think that says a lot for this sweet little song.

Willa:  I agree, it’s beautiful, though I think it’s a pretty pointed critique of racism – which is surprising in such “a sweet little song,” as you say. As with so much of his work, we can interpret it and respond to it on many different levels.

Joie:  That’s very true and it is a “pretty pointed critique of racism” – as you say. But it’s also just really sweet and sincere as he sings a love song of appreciation and thanks to one of his idols. Either way you look at it, it is a very powerful, unassuming little song.

Willa:  And a wonderful birthday present to one of his idols.

So you know, Joie, this is Michael Jackson’s birthday, but it’s kind of ours too – our first post was in August of last year. And Joie, I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our chats. You are so fun to work with, and so knowledgeable about everything MJ! I’m constantly amazed by how much information you have at your fingertips, and all the history you have in your head.

Joie:  That’s funny, Willa. Maybe that’s why my head feels so crowded all the time; it’s all the MJ stats floating around up there! But seriously, I’ve enjoyed our conversations too. I have learned so much from talking with you. It’s been a very interesting year.

Willa:  It really has been. So happy first birthday, Joie! And thank you so much for making this such a wonderful experience.

Joie:  Happy Anniversary, Willa!