“Four years is not enough,” Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, told local news station KTLA after an L.A. judge handed down the maximum sentence available to Dr. Conrad Murray in the involuntary manslaughter case on Tuesday.
It’s understandable that Mrs. Jackson is seething at the fact that Murray might not even serve the full four-year sentence, thanks to California’s laws about overcrowding in its prison system. She lost her baby, the man we all came to love as the creator of our personal soundtracks. No sentence will ever seem fair, unless the end result is a living, breathing Michael Jackson in our lives again.
In the two years since MJ has been gone, we keep reliving the pain of losing such an influential musical heavyweight. Who can imagine a world without “Thriller”? “I Want You Back”? “The Lady in My Life”? Every time we watch Usher on an awards show or see Beyonce live in concert, we see the influence. We see the tribute. The artists who have been influenced by MJ are so numerous that they span the musical spectrum.
The media circus surrounding the sentencing (complete with the #MurrayTrial Twitter hashtag) seemed to satisfy MJ’s fans by ensuring us that we would indeed receive justice for having one of our brightest stars taken from us too soon. But by focusing on Conrad Murray–the doctor who, by all accounts, was extremely negligent in the care of his most famous patient–we focus on the Michael who was a stranger to us all. Instead, we should focus on the musical genius who existed behind the pain.
Of course we noticed his erratic behavior in the last few years of his life. But we always hoped, always wished, always prayed that a massively successful comeback was on the horizon. From watching Michael’s tour preparations in 2009’s ‘This Is It documentary’, it was clear that he still had “it”: the moves, the ear for pitch, the eye for visually appealing choreography. Anyone who watched that film instantly realized that they don’t make ‘em like Michael anymore. But we should celebrate the fact that we had him, for a period in time, and he gave us every little bit of himself that he had. May he finally rest in peace.