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