Posts Tagged ‘So You Wanna Be A Rock Star’



June 27, 2009


As a professional musician, I have enormous respect for Michael Jackson’s contribution to music. MJ01Of the 12 solo albums he released, the three that really spoke to me were Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. That music, put to electrifying live performances that have never been matched – and often poorly copied – produced a once-in-a-lifetime entertainer.






That’s the Michael most of us will remember.



There was, of course, the tormented Michael that succumbed to his “demons.”



We witnessed, with dismay and concern, his album-by-album physical disfigurement, the unhealthy desire to be child-like, the accusations of pedophilia and the anorexia that took him from a vibrant, energetic singer and dancer to a 5’10” man whose stage outfits probably weighed more than him when he passed.


MJ04We can only speculate about some aspects of his life: the strained relationship with his father, his unusually close friendships with Diana Ross and Elizabeth Taylor, the sister who seemed to be closest to him (La Toya) and the one who seemed the most distant (Janet).





Michael’s “inner circle” kept him a mystery to us, often misleading the press of his whereabouts, his health, his relationships and his lifestyle.






There was the Michael that donated millions to fight childhood hunger in this country and around the world.




Those that believe he was a pedophile (he was acquitted in one trial and settled out of court in the other) say that his desire to help children was his way of getting close to them.





Their reasoning is that pedophiles notoriuously take jobs in venues that keep them in close proximity to children such as schools, little league sports, Sunday school, etc.





I’m glad we will never know for certain. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

At 2:26pm on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson left a painful life here on earth to be in peace.  

The hurt is now gone.




Those of us still on this earthly plane will be inundated with story after story about his life – the triumphs and the tragedies – and his death.






We’ll grow weary of hearing about how great he was, or how pathetic he was, or the combination of both.





Once all this has passed, we will be left with the incredible gift he gave to the world – his music.




Sing and dance with the angels, Michael.

They will welcome you.






June 16, 2009


One of my co-workers walked over to me on that June afternoon, with a sullen face. He knew I followed politics, so he thought I might be interested.

“Tim Russert just died.”

“What? No. You mean his dad just died – his name is Tim, too.”

“No, the TV Tim Russert died.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Tim was only five months older than me. How could he have passed at such a young age? I immediately took a minute to read the breaking news on the MSNBC website. It was true. One of the most beloved newsmen on TV was never again going to share that smile with the world.

Later that Friday evening, my wife and I sat on the couch, literally in tears, as we watched the story unfold.

Neither one of us realized how much this man was a part of our lives. His was always the most insightful, intelligent, well prepared and executed Sunday Morning News program. Nothing else came close. If you wanted the truth and the facts on the issues, it was always Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

His wife, Maureen and their son, Luke, both exhibited extraordinary strength through what had to be the most difficult days of their lives. No amount of consoling can reduce that sense of loss. Only time helps.

As I sat on the couch that night, it dawned on me that Tim, sitting at his desk, passed doing what he loved. His passion for life, combined with an unyielding work ethic that no doubt doubled the forty-hour work week was evident in everything he did. He had an energetic zeal that few could match. Some might say that’s what killed him. True or not, he left this earth living life to the fullest.

This event made me take a look at my life. At the time, I had a forty-hour-a-week job. I also helped out with our small church’s needs by handling the administrative work, the website, recording and mastering the CDs of the service and performing every Sunday morning. It added an additional twenty-five hours to my “work week.”

Late into the night, I silently asked myself this question: “Although each week is filled, is it fulfilling?” I enjoy my job – but it’s just that – a job. I work with very nice people in an environment that most would call enviable. The service to my church, while gratifying, encompasses so much in so many areas, that by Sunday afternoon, I am exhausted. Then it starts all over again Monday morning at 6:00am.

So the answer to my question was… no.

As sad as it is to think Tim’s passing helped wake me up to my life’s reality, that’s exactly what happened. I have a feeling millions across this country took a hard look at their lives in much the same way. Knowing what I know of Tim, he would be happy to know that he once again helped others, even at this sad time.

That was a year ago.

Today things are different. I relinquished my responsibilities to the church. The minister completely understood.

Now that I’m no longer exhausted from seven day work weeks, my desire to be involved in something creative is front and center. I’m in a new musical group which is still in rehearsals and will be ready to go public late in the year. In addition, I’ve started blogging, of all things. Who knew I would enjoy this? (Actually, my son, Adam, did.)

To say that both projects keep me busy is an understatement. My creativity is surfacing in so many different ways. Musically, my vocal and instrumental skills are growing – even at my tender age of fifty-eight. I’m improving my “chops” on the keys, singing styles of material that are new to me, and really expanding my repertoire.


Blogging is the surprise. I never enjoyed writing when I was in school. I did only what was required to get a decent grade. The rest of my time was spent at a piano keyboard, not a typewriter keyboard. (Insert age joke here.) Now? I can’t wait to get to my next post. The ideas are endless. I’m not able to get to them fast enough.

PianokeysBecause I create a graphic for each post, I am also tapping into a different creativity. In addition, blogging has taught me a great deal about how to write with precision and clarity. It appears I may have learned a few things in those English Literature Classes.

Imagine that!

Thank you, Tim.