Michael Jackson, The Iron Curtain, and Freedom

June 26th, 2009


For all the memories of dancing the night away to Michael Jackson’s tunes, the one that haunts me most is of hearing his music from behind the Iron Curtain.

It was so long ago – more than 25 years now – that it’s easy to forget that back in those days, travel beyond the heavily fortified Berlin Wall was hard. I confess, I  had to lie to get through. Passing myself off as the fiancée of an East German couple’s grandson – who was in fact passing himself off as their grandson when he was actually just the son of some old and dear friends of theirs –  I was allowed a family exemption to travel to Hirschfelde, a tiny town near the “DreiLanderEck” of Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Everything was different there. Fear. Poverty. Hunger. Dreariness.

And then, from the snack bar of a state forest in the middle of  Nowheresville, East Germany, I heard it.

“She Told Me Her Name Was Billie Jean, As She Caused A Scene….”

It was incredible. There I was in Ronald Reagan’s Godless Communist state, with East German army guards all around, “enemies of capitalism,” “enemies of democracy,” and there was Michael Jackson too. And then I saw the little smiles, the tiny bemused smirks from the people in that gray place.

It was then that I realized Michael Jackson was so much more than a Motown legend. He brought joy and happiness and hope to the world. He united all of us in our common humanity.

And today, his music, and the music of other talented Americans does the same in Iran, in North Korea, in Cuba, and in all the other countries around the globe that still hunger for the freedom the East Germans eventually found.

Music unites us all.

RIP, Michael Jackson.

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

4 Responses to “Michael Jackson, The Iron Curtain, and Freedom”

  1. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish on June 26, 2009 9:09 pm

    Yes, this is a touching post. But even more meaningful to me is that coming here, I discovered TweetMeme! This thing is brilliant! I just installed the code on Fake Plastic Fish. Awesome!

    Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish’s last blog post..Kids Less Plastic: A Guest Post from Deborah Hladecek

  2. Cathy Herard(@frugalgirl) on June 26, 2009 9:32 pm

    What a wonderful post and so true that music just unites us all and Michael Jackson’s music did that all over the world. Gives me goosebumps to imagine the moment you heard that song in a place so otherwise foreign to you. Wow!!

  3. Lynn on June 27, 2009 4:00 am

    Cathy and Beth, Thanks for taking the time to comment! Some of our green friends were annoyed by all the attention paid to MJ, so I felt like I was taking a bit of a risk departing from my normal themes to write about this. So glad you enjoyed it – and Beth, you tell it like it is! — Lynn

  4. Aviad on December 24, 2009 3:11 pm

    What an amazing experience that must have been! I had the chance to see East Berlin before the wall went down, just from the nearby museum, in 1989… 6 years after the union I visited east Berlin and I could still see the poverty, mental separation and confusion. I heard stories of how people had to hide Bananas from the police, because they were imported from the West and other horrifying stories.

    Michael Jackson’s music is really a phenomena. His music really brought and still brings happiness for so many people in every corner of the world, even in Sinai, Egypt, among the Bedouin. As the East Germans That is so inspiring for me. I was never a big fun of his music as a child, but it did not stop me from dancing my youth with songs from “thriller” or “Bad”, in every single party.

    Thank you for sharing your experience Lynn and good to see Beth around here too.

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