Jessie Lilley
Buddy Barnett
Brad Linaweaver

November 2009     Web Edition     Issue #3

Forum Blog News Mondo Girl Letters Photo Galleries Archives Back Issues Books Contact Us Features Film Index Interviews Legal Links Music Staff

Michael Jackson

The Ultimate Collection

Epic 2004

Much has been made of Michael Jackson’s private life: accusations (God-awful accusations), allegations, charges brought to bear. I leave that to the lawyers, judge and jury. I want to talk about the music.

Does anyone remember the first time they saw The Jackson Five (from Gary, Indiana!)? For me it was Sullivan in 1969. This guy is 4 months younger than I. Makes me realize how little I’ve really accomplished. Michael was 11 years old and fronting the group on the Sullivan show. The kid was a natural: good looking, charming and with a voice that blew you off your living room sofa. And the older he got, the better he got. That man can dance so bad, I used to love to watch him dance. I listen to a lot of oldies stations on the FM ‘dial.’ It’s not a dial anymore, is it? It’s a ‘band’ now I guess; a digital readout. Anyway, there’s always a Jackson tune somewhere and up goes the volume on my car’s stereo system.

“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” I’ll Be There;” let’s just quote soul-music guru David Ritz here: “The singing and the songs make us happy. They are moments of incandescent beauty—young, wildly optimistic.” I can’t say it better.

Michael, as he matured, gave us “Ben,” “Enjoy Yourself,” “Rock With You,” and the heartbreaking “She’s Out Of My Life.” This Sony presentation of “She’s Out Of My Life” was produced by Quincy Jones by the way, and is from “Off The Wall—Special Edition” (Epic). Brilliant.

“Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection” is just that, ultimate. It’s all here. There are 4 CDs in one big-ass box arriving in a store near you on November 16 of 2004. The discs start with “I Want You Back” and go all the way up to “The Way You Love Me.” The final cut on disc 4 is a soulful “We’ve Had Enough” that is not to be missed. It is also not to be confused with the song by Alkaline Trio or the Dudley Boyz. This is Jackson in his prime. He’s 46 years old now. I know because I know how old I am.

The current rumor is that this song is Michael’s and Janet’s lament regarding the child molestation charges and the breast flop—um, pop—from the Super Bowl. Now I’ve listened to this little devil several times this evening. The song that is, not the whole damned box! The box I have listened to once. “We’ve Had Enough” has smart lyrics and tight production and is a heart-breaking story-song about a little girl who wants to know why her daddy had to die when he didn’t even have a gun: “One more violent crime.” It’s also about a little boy who wants to know why his mommy had to die and his daddy is trying to figure out how the hell to explain this mess to his child.

“In the middle of the village in a distant land…too young to understand…his father grabs his hand. Screaming, crying, his wife’s dying, now he’s left to explain. Innocently questioning why… why his mother had to die? What did these soldiers come here for? ... Did God say that they could decide who would live and who would die? What that mother ever did, except to take care of her kid?”

Um, folks? I think you missed the man's point. This here is an anti-war song. Mr. Jackson has a little something to say about Iraq methinks, and he says it powerfully. Get your heads out of your asses and listen to the man. Not only is he questioning our presence in Iraq, he’s questioning what goes on here at home as well. Remember that this gent began his recording career when the Vietnam War was in full swing. He wasn’t too young to know what was going on then and he’s not too old to be unaware of what goes on today.

This release from Sony Epic is more than a compilation and retrospective on the extraordinarily talented Michael Jackson. It’s an anthem for the 21st Century as well as the ages. With the inclusion of “We’ve Had Enough,” Jackson points out what’s important in life and the fact that for as far as we’ve come, we’ve nonetheless managed to warp ourselves back to the witch hunts of the 50s and 60s. It’s not as bad as Vietnam yet folks, but it’s pretty damned close. Open your eyes. The lyrics to Jackson’s “We’ve Had Enough” evoke Hunter Thompson’s challenge to “look at the world with a special pair of eyes.” We, all of us, have them. Can’t we please use them this time, before it’s too late?

“Did God say that you could decide?”

Thanks Sony. I only wish the release date was before Election Day 2004.

—Jessie Lilley