But then last night, while trying to fall asleep, I listened to "Will You Be There". Yes, the song from Free Willy. Shut up - don't judge.
This is one of those lesser known Michael Jackson songs, although it was probably the 75th single from Dangerous, each charting lower than the previous one, but this one managed to hit the top 10 and stop the bleeding. It was popular in the late summer/early fall of 1993, which is kind of amazing as the Dangerous album came out in the spring of 1991. I was back in college, living in an apartment/townhouse with two fellow classmates and really looking for my own footing. I remember those days well - as if they were yesterday. There were so many songs from that time period that bring up those emotions and feelings, and "Will You Be There" is but one patch of that quilt.
I can't even really articulate it well - perhaps it's best left unarticulated, but ever since that time, I have had a very soft spot of "Will You Be There". I remember thinking it odd that Michael Jackson was having a radio hit again. Even then, the backlash had begun, and this was still pre-child abuse allegations, although those were about to come to light.
Much is made of the symbolism of Dangerous being knocked out of the number one slot by Nirvana's Nevermind. I think there is some validity to this, but in the final analysis, Dangerous is just so immensely inferior to Thriller and Bad, that it's not surprising the singles did not do as well. But we'll always have "Will You Be There".
One last thought on Michael Jackson's death - well, actually two. Boing Boing linked to an article this morning that very aptly described Michael Jackson's life as one in which his childhood and his old age were missed. Arguably, those are the two times in your life where you are truly able to be free. Secondly, from this blog comes this very telling quote, one that even as a Madonna fan, I see the truth in (emphasis mine).
His death does make me think about the superstars I grew up worshipping in the 80s, and looking back at many of them is just depressing now. Michael Jackson is the most obvious tragedy, but don't forget the downfalls and tribulations of artists like Prince, Axl Rose, Whitney Houston, George Michael, and Michael Hutchence. That decade ate its young. When Madonna is the most sane and rational of the bunch that's fucked up.