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  • Whitney Houston just died, which reminds me of when Michael Jackson died 3 years ago. I suspect I was the only person in the universe, IN THE UNIVERSE, who had no emotional reaction whatsoever. No urge to turn on the TV or radio, no urge to tweet about it Google it or comment or reflect or say something snarky or anything else. Really, I just didn’t think or feel anything.

    For three weeks.

    I woke up at 5:47am (rather early for me) with "I’ll Be There" in my head on that day. And suddenly, it hits me, hard. "I’ll Be There" is one of those songs that gets to me every goddamn time I hear it. I lose it. I don’t know if it’ the melody or the sentiment of the lyrics or the bit when Jermaine chimes in on the chorus (God, now THERE'S a voice). But I know it’s one of the first songs I ever heard on the radio. Maybe that’s it.

    Radio, back in the day. AM radio. Pop music. When pop music was songs like "I’ll Be There" and Al Green’s "Let’s Stay Together" and the Raspberries "Go All The Way" (man, why couldn’t I have lost my virginity to THAT one?), and any song on any soundtrack to any Quentin Tarentino film. But I digress. Back to Michael…

    I realized: the Michael that sang "I’ll Be There", and the Michael who brought us the album "Off The Wall" (superior to "Thriller," in my opinion); THAT Michael died long ago. Replaced by someone who — for reasons I’ll never understand — had such a hard time looking at the Man In The Mirror that he actually erased him, replacing him with someone who bore little resemblance to other human beings. I’m grateful I’ll never understand what it must be like, to abhor where you came from or something deep inside you so much you can no longer face it. But I sympathize. My demons got nothing on Michael’s.

    So for days I couldn't get "I’ll Be There" out of my head. And finally, my heart broke for Michael Jackson. I wish I could thank him for giving me the first recording, the first voice, that talked about love and made me get it, feel it, pine for it: what love could be.

    RIP, Michael. RIP Whitney.
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