Rumour has it that the flood of rare material the Michael Jackson fan community have recently been graced with is down to a dispute between hardcore collectors. The leaked footage and audio contain some of the things most coveted by the fan community (as well as other stuff we weren’t even aware of) – including Bad tour in Tokyo and Rome, the making of Seeing Voices, the Oprah interview, 2 Bad outtakes, the 1993 Addams Family version of Ghosts, Triumph tour in Atlanta and the second-leg Dangerous tour rehearsals.
It was the latter that created the most discussion, however.
The last song Michael rehearses in said footage before a stand-in takes his place is The Way You Make Me Feel, which he sits out and directs from the front of the stage – choosing to speak the lyrics rather than sing them. The initial reaction to this unusual rendition of the song was of it being a curiosity to savour – as if Michael were reciting poetry.
Sadly, the truth is far more sombre .
During the break prior to the track, Michael can be heard plaintively informing Debbie Rowe that he is in pain, with the suggestion being that he is soliciting pain relief. Michael had recently undergone surgery on his scalp – the Pepsi burning a decade previously was still (and would be until his dying day) heavy with repercussions. Michael found solace through the painkillers – emotional as well as physical. A fact with tragic consequences when considering what was just around the corner.
The footage is a poignant glimpse behind the scenes. Of course, we’d already seen Michael out-of-sorts on stage during the second leg of the Dangerous tour – him evidently unconcerned about reaching his own (albeit uniquely stringent) professional standards.
But upon discovering that Michael was not even capable of completing rehearsals – never mind an entire leg of a tour – we suddenly become enlightened with information that is little less than harrowing.
My last blog post discussed Michael’s reluctance to adlib due to his desire to create the perfect show. Such was Michael’s sadness during the second leg of the Dangerous tour, Siedah Garrett felt comfortable enough to improvise on stage by wearing a wig during I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. To try and elicit laughter from Michael.
I love Siedah Garrett.
As tired as Michael was during the second leg, the rage he was feeling at the injustice of what was happening in his ‘private life’ (a farcical description when it comes to Michael) was nevertheless evident when observing the innovation and energy in his improvised dance spots. Fred Astaire was the first to describe Michael as an “angry dancer” and this anger was never more apparent than in footage from stage performances at this point in his life.
Michael’s embracing of rage, combined with the technical dancing abilities instilled in him as a child (ruthlessly so – which formed part of the rage) is what – ironically enough – provided the ingredients that formed his universally appreciated talent as a dancer. Michael painstakingly mastered the technical abilities of his craft under the orders of his father and pressures of record company executives. He then matured as an artist and put his personal spin (no pun intended) on it. And in doing so, he created something unique, deserved and iconic – his very own genre of dancing. One day ‘Michael Jackson Dancing’ will be as respected as other esteemed styles of dance.
After the spectacular professional success of his childhood, Michael Jackson never needed write nor perform another song ever again. Prior to Thriller, prior to the Bad tour, his status as a musical legend had been indelibly scribed into the history books. Indeed, this is the reason why he has two entries in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the effect of such a childhood also meant that Michael was cursed to never feel satisfied without the love from a crowd.
Yet, I believe Michael grew to appreciate this – which is why he began to concentrate his efforts on using his unprecedented fame for humanitarianism rather than the promotion of his artistry.
I would like to give my personal thanks to whoever is bestowing our community with these wonderful rarities – material that provides us with the priceless gift of intuiting Michael’s humanity through his art.
This is a happy Christmas!
Italian translation available here: http://amzn.to/1O85aRV