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TRIBUTE: ‘Where there is love, I’ll be there’

It’s true that he was not in the same league as say, Luther Vandross whose every hit song was all about love and nothing else,…

It’s true that he was not in the same league as say, Luther Vandross whose every hit song was all about love and nothing else, but though he diversified into pop and rock, Michael was a love balladeer in his own right.  My classic favourite was the one he did with his brothers way back in the early days. Some lines from ‘We’re almost there’ are like this:

‘No matter how hard, the task may seem

Don’t give up our plans, don’t give up our dreams

No broken bridges can turn us around

Cause all we’re searching for, can still be found

Since we are almost there,  just one more step.’

Still from the Jackson Five years, the all-time hit ‘I’ll be there’ tells the story of undying love even in the event of loss.

‘If you ever find someone new

He’d better be good to you,

 cause if he isn’t, I’ll be there.

I’ll be there to protect you,

With an unselfish love that is very true

Just call my name and I’ll be there.’

The theme of lost love will surface again in ‘One day in your life’ where Michael takes his listeners in a flashback scene to the spot where he once found love and later lost it:

‘One day in your life, you remember a place

Someone touching your face

Then you’ll come and you look around you

One day in your life,

You remember the love we found here

You remember me somehow

I will stay in your heart…..’

The decades passed and the solo Michael got deeper into disco, hard rock and of course more sophisticated dancing techniques, a combination known as popular music or simply pop. But even with this evolution, at the corner of every pop album is a soft romantic song targeted at audience like me. When music went physical with Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, a troop of R&B artistes as well as pop musicians simply followed suit. But not Michael, who like Luther Vandross held strictly to old-fashioned romantic love. The most physical that I remember any of Michael’s songs got was in Thriller, where these lines occur:

‘Now is the time, for you and I to cuddle close together

All through the night, I’ll protect you from the terror on the screen,

I’ll make you see, that this is thriller, thriller night.’

Consider the ‘raw’ material that passes for romantic music today, and you must agree that this is a hundred times tame in comparison. One remarkable thing about Michael Jackson’s music was not only that he shunned the physical in favour of romantic love, but he ventured into a campaign for universal love as well. Probably inspired by the spirit of ‘We are the world’ which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie, Michael sang ‘Heal the World’ in a subsequent album and the wordings of the song couldn’t be more explicit in campaigning for brotherly love:

‘Heal the world, make it a better place

For you and for me and the entire human race

There are people dying and can’t remember living

Make a better place for you and for me.’

He echoed the same theme of search for a better world in ‘Man in the Mirror’, where he made a general appeal to fellow human beings to look deeply into themselves and change their ways, as a pre-requisite for making the world a better place. It is almost difficult to believe that someone who gave the world so much joy could have had a lonely or unhappy existence as most reports suggest, but if one remembers Smokey Robinson’s ‘Tears of a clown’ which he said are shed only ‘when there’s no one around.’ Maybe it’s like that with all people gifted with the art of entertaining others, they get plagued by demons that torment their private lives. Whatever was Micheal’s private life, we hope he had made enough peace with his Lord to finally earn some peace at last. Adieu, Michael.

Mrs Faruk lives in Abuja

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