I am sitting at a cafe on Champs d’Elysee - a place that all summer long is filled with tourists. I have just left Gustavo Dudamel’s concert at Salle Pleyel and I was looking for something to eat, not having eaten much for three days - surviving mostly on fruit and bread, and it was a choice between this place and McDonalds. So I came here where the coffee for the tourist is nine dollars a cup, served to you by surly waiters.
I had been awakened this morning with the news that singer Michael Jackson had died, and everywhere I have gone in Paris today, TVs are blaring pictures, videos, news about him. My facebook page has been filled with tributes and links to videos and I am realizing how many people that I know are paying tribute to him, talking about how good a person he was, how he wanted to heal the world, and how he cared. All this has been gnawing away at me, but now I am sitting here in this Paris tourist trap on Champs d’Elysee after seeing the hope of the new generation of classical musician, Gustavo Dudamel, receive a 10-minute-long standing, and shouting, ovation, and I am having to listen to pounding, destructive, repulsive music coming from behind me. As I turn around, I see that it is a video, and it is a Michael Jackson video.
Suddenly, the kind little man who stands in front of the restaurant, and whose job is to convince people to come in and sit down to eat, and to drink the nine-dollar cups of coffee, came over to me and we begin to talk in French. I told him that I was from the United States and he told me that he had made a trip there once, and he named a number of cities that he had visited: Chicago, Cleveland, Phily, New York and so on. He said that at that time he was working for, and travelled with, a French soccer team. He asked me why I was in Paris and I told him that I was a composer and that I was here to meet musicians and composers, and to go to concerts. Hearing this, he began to tell me what a shame it was about Michael Jackson.
I was supposed to agree with him, but I refused. I had decided that I would not put up with all of this mourning for Michael Jackson. I had had enough. As I told him that I didn’t like Michael Jackson and his music, I watched the man’s face register shocked disappointment. He asked my why and I told him that Michael Jackson had created destructive music and that it had opened the door to hip-hop that has now circled the world and was destroying so many musical cultures. “Well,” He told me in French, “it was all a matter of taste.” I wasn’t going to deal with that comment, so I shook his hand and he walked away. Meanwhile, one repulsive video after another blasted loudly and proudly into the restaurant from the hi-definition television set behind me. I was certain that almost everyone around me agreed with this kindly old man.
But it is not a matter of taste! It’s a matter of survival, and life on this planet is doomed if we don’t figure this out. This is because due to the property of resonance and the direct harmonic correlation with everything and everyone, music is much more powerful than most people realize. Ladies and gentlemen, the destructive music that was created during the 20th century is affecting us all! If we don’t change the music, then little else will change… it’s that simple. And perhaps every song that Michael Jackson sang was not destructive, but all I can say is that the music that I was having to put up with in this nine-dollar-a-cup restaurant was.
So all ye who pay tribute to the “King of Pop,” I take offense. You pay tribute to a mentally ill zombie who took millions of your dollars to build a playground to lure your children into a den of molestation, then spent more millions of your money to keep himself out of prison: a place where many have been sent for decades just for the offense of having photos that they had downloaded onto their computers. What kind of hypocrisy is this?
My job is to help the world change it’s music, and I have been working on this for forty years. I am not going to pretend that I am in mourning, when in fact I am repulsed. The time for change has come!
And maybe we can change the price of the nine-dollar cup of coffee while we are at it.