Like billions of others, I have my personal commitments to the life and memory of Michael Jackson. 

I remember the afternoon my daughter and I watched a James Brown video and I had to correct her that HE didn't dance like Michael Jackson.  Myopia is a disease that affects the young more than the old but it affects all of us.  Thankfully Jackson was in the audience and Brown convinced him to come up on stage.  Jackson paid the tribute to Brown that The Godfather of Soul was due.

I also remember that The Godfather of Soul and The King of Pop were and are the cornerstones in the timeline of R&B music.  My own myopia got a treatment when I was maybe 12 or 13 and went to my record store to buy some new 45s.  The owner must have been in a mood because he spent a length of time telling me how “they” were changing the rules and rock & roll was being annexed into rock and R&B.  Music black people created was no longer going to be considered Rock.  Hence forth, it would be Rhythm & Blues.  There had to be a way to separate playlists for radio stations.  And when Pat Boone was making more money from Little Richard music than Richard Penniman was, there needed to be some new definitions and this was a start.  I've never forgotten that conversation.

The Balkanization of Music in America is legendary and complete. It is, perhaps, personified in The Godfather of Soul and The King of Pop.

Maybe Soul was needed to create another genre that was more “Black” than R&B so the radio programmers wouldn't be confused about who might listen to their programming and, more importantly, their commercials.

Maybe putting Michael Jackson in the Pop world (a world that included Pat Boone) was a way to create a space away from Rock and R&B so the radio programmers wouldn't be confused about who might listen to their programming and, more importantly, their commercials.

It was humorous that MTV was created to promote Rock music but no black artists were in the mix, not even Michael Jackson at first.  Hence, VH1.  Seems strange now.  No black artists on MTV.  But it was real and people pointed it out over and over again.  It's easy to ignore Michael Jackson when he's doing R&B in a Rock and Pop world.  Hence The King of Pop.  It's easier that way to deal with the myopia.

Back to my myopia treatments.  One came when the founder of Contemporary Christian Music once told me that Black Gospel was no longer Black Gospel once the white audience accepted it.  Once the white audience accepted it the music switched from Black Gospel to Contemporary Christian.  I've never forgotten the arrogance.  Said it to my face!  For all I know, he may still believe it. 

Certainly I can  understand intimately the frustrations of living a life defined by someone else's vision.  Michael Jackson is the documentary example of what happens when you live your life to someone else's expectations, their myopia if you will.  The confluence of genetics that created his brilliant mind was always shaped by someone else's idea of how those genetics, that brilliance, should sound, be, be identified and appear.  Jackson spent 50 years bounded by those limits.  And we wondered why he was always controlled by his eccentricities, why he'd often disappear into them.  He could never escape the limits that confined him, the corrals we defined him with and the tethers we never let him escape.

We wanted him to sound like our experiences.  We wanted him to look like our realities.  We wanted him to be like our beliefs.  And everytime he tried to walk on our rocks, we moved them or made the water deeper.  For 50 years it was like that.  You could see the compression in his life, his music, his features.

I often wonder where'd we be if he was allowed to take us there, beyond our myopia.  He went to that mountain top and saw the future before us.  He saw beyond his own myopia.  He was, perhaps, the only person in his world to see outside his own myopia and be willing to explore that future and mine it for the gems he might find.

I don't remember the exact time line but the video created for Can You Feel It was far outside MTV's limits.  It wasn't selling music or maintaining myopic musical visions.  It was selling cruises to where Michael Jackson had been.  He wanted us to open our minds and see beyond the myopia.  Take a look at the video from You Tube.  More than a million beat you to it.

There are very few who are willing to take the trip these days.  There's too much at stake maintaining their own myopic visions of music here and now.  There's too much at stake keeping contemporary music Balkanized.  Of course, maybe it's no longer music once the white audience accepts it.

Rest In Peace Michael.  You've put so many cracks in our personal lenses we'll never ever again be comfortable with what we see musically.  Some will blame you for their discomfort.  Some will look at your memory and not understand how our values cracked your own visions and made you uncomfortable.  Now you're no longer confined or defined by our definitions.  Our myopia.  Our Balkanizations.

Rest In Peace Michael.