Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I’ll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see
You’ve got a friend in me
I grew up listening to that song, Ben, that was released when I was 6 years old. I never really understood the meaning of that song, and had never bothered to find out either.
I was never a fan of Michael Jackson’s. But along my life’s timeline, there was always an MJ influence here and there. The album Off The Wall (released 1979) had some memorable tunes in there that I still listen to up ’til now, and especially Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. That was the song I listened to when our family took a drive up to Penang during one of the school holidays in early 1980. That year, a single of a song that is still one of my MJ favourites was released – Heartbreak Hotel. I listen to it still as I drive to work. Then, of course there was the all time hit album Thriller (released in 1982), and the songs in there were like on the charts even when I went off to England to further my studies in 1983. The ever-so-famous Moonwalk inspired lots of youngsters in my Bletchley neighbourhood to imitate MJ’s every move. Bad was released in 1987 when I was in the Air Force, Dangerous in 1991 when Air Force colleagues and I would frequent a pub called Traffic Lights in Damansara Utama, and then the Life Center in Kuala Lumpur to follow a band called Cash Band that had Black or White in their repertoire. After HIStory, I stopped listening to MJ except for his old songs because I thought that the album was more personal than anything else. Nevertheless, I enjoyed You Are Not Alone.
Then of course there were the scandals that plagued him. I regarded those as opportunists taking advantage of his wealth, trying to make quick bucks. However, although he was acquitted, I don’t think he ever recovered from those vicious attacks, his victories were very Pyrrhic in nature. He became the subject of bad jokes and scathing attacks from various quarters. And no matter that his looks and character fluctuated between the sublime and the ridiculous, MJ had always been Ben to millions of his supporters.
And yesterday, 26th June 2009 at approximately 4.00am Malaysian time (25th June 2009 in LA), Ben left the world, where half its population regarded him as a freak, and the other half that have always loved him, for good. It is easy to ridicule a person because it is far easier to forget the good deeds he had done for the world, the hopes he had brought to many in despair. It is always easier to make fun of others because it is only human to feel great when stepping on others.
And now Ben is gone. And as mentioned, I was never a fan of his, he will always be that Ben, to me, and to million others.
Ben, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I’m sure they’d think again
If they had a friend like Ben
(a friend) Like Ben
(like Ben) Like Ben
There will never be another friend to the world like Ben.
Rest In Peace, finally, Michael Joseph Jackson.