Am I the only one to spot the bitter irony of Paul McCartney performing live on the Letterman show last night, mere days after the memorial service to Michael Jackson?
McCartney’s 67. Jackson was 50.
McCartney looks to be in good health. Jackson was a closeted gay, anorexic, lying, conniving drug addict.
It’s one of McCartney’s oft-told stories: how Michael Jackson paid a bundle to acquire the rights to Northern Songs, publisher of all the Beatles’ hits, snatching them from right under McCartney’s nose. But when an incredulous McCartney, who’d wanted the catalogue for himself – natch – raised the matter, Jackson’s reply was nothing short of creepy and callous, delivered with high-pitched, silken defiance: “Hey, Paul, it’s just business.”
Bye, click, gone.
Despite claiming to want peace and happiness throughout the world, or whatever else he thought his image would benefit from, when this little simple test of his humanity came up, Michael Jackson failed it big-time. Since the day I heard that, I never really liked him.
And now he’s dead. So what was such chicanery worth anyway?
I often think about stuff like that. You hear of businessmen who are forever taking the low road, screwing people over, cheating the system, making a fast buck at someone else’s expense – investing their entire life, in other words, in things that don’t matter: making huge bonuses, buying massive houses, acquiring status symbols and possessions and homes and trinkets by the truckload. Then, one day, they’re killed in a car accident or a helicopter crash, or they get sick and pass away unexpectedly from cancer, or the tower they work in is hit by a passenger jet and they’re crushed by flaming rubble.
What use then the big house and the trinkets, hn? All the power and wealth on Wall Street didn’t make them even the tiniest bit invinicible. When it came down to it, they were as mortal and as vulnerable as the rest of us, they just wasted the opportunity to show it.
The older I get, the more my bigger, less practical dreams slip away and I find myself craving ordinary things. Simplicity. Honesty. Friendship. Straightforwardness. Trust. Sound sleep. An easy conscience. Comfortable conversations with stimulating, untroubled people. And so on.
Yet this isn’t about age per se, it’s about a subtle realization that comes knocking once you’ve acquired a certain amount of maturity: that, as per the title of the Stuart Wilde book, Life was never meant to be a struggle. That the philosophers and authors and songwriters and, god forbid, even the Bible, were right: in the end it is all about loving one another and doing the right thing. Treating people the way you’d like them to treat you. Making peace with yourself and the world around you. Life, boiled down to basics, is really quite uncomplicated. Only our egos would have us believe otherwise.
McCartney himself has always espoused these simple values, at least publicly, and I like that about him more than I like his music. And guess what, he’s still alive and performing. In fact, as I watched him thrash out a surprisingly authentic version of Get Back at the Ed Sullivan Theater last night, I did feel a certain amount of vindication on his behalf. That the good guy – the peace and love and heal the world guy – had won after all. While the trickster, the fool, the lost soul – who sang about healing the world on a grand scale but clearly didn’t realize that he should begin by healing himself first – didn’t. There’s something distinctly satisfying about that.
TV Swami – he feeling melancholy and wondering if it’s the raw food diet. He crave chocolate cake.