Inner Michael » ‘Dare to Dream’ said the Man in the Music

‘Dare to Dream’ said the Man in the Music

Looking around the world today, at social trends toward coming together in communities even virtual ones, and the recent uprisings of countries against their dictatorial leaders and the occupy movement, one knows without words, a deep dissatisfaction with the direction the human race is headed. There is a sensory experience that remains as yet unlabeled that drafts people into its midst who know it without knowing its words.

Something is terribly wrong. We sense it, we feel it, we resist it but we are at a loss to name it. But there is an inner knowing that something is askew or lacking or as yet undesigned and that it impacts life and individual lives and eventually even the trajectory of human advancement.

The deeper I read Joe Vogel’s Man in the Music, the more I appreciate Vogel and sense what a huge project this was. Not only has Joe Vogel written with scholarship and savvy about this twentieth century musical icon– the man and his music, but he has provided set, setting and context. The additional information richly places the work in historical context allowing the reader to imagine the circumstances under which Michael Jackson created his art.

Vogel’s book is a meaty piece of literature that is far removed from the tabloid trash that is supposed to have served as biographical reflections of a man whose influence on global culure has yet to be appreciated. One cannot just simply read Man in the Music, one must be prepared to study it a bit more deeply and reflect on it to grasp the impact and extraordinary influence of a singular artist on the time in which he lived.

A world without Michael Jackson having been here might be much worse. I know that is a bold statement, but indulge me for a moment. Consider too, how much greater might have been his influence had he been a politician ala Sonny Bono or prominent cultural leader like Mandela in a genre taken more seriously than music. Yet music was the perfect language to reach a world audience and in particular, youth growing up in a culture that they intuitively and in their bones, knew didn’t support them.

The rampant cynicism in the current climate is so insidious and habitual as to be invisible. We have lived with it so long that we take it for granted and work from the premise that it’s a concrete reality that cannot be changed. Yet there is a push back against it even without a convinced recognition or a name.

Things are either life affirming or death inviting. They support life and lives of human beings, or they don’t. Things are either soulful or they are not. And the human knows the difference in a region within self that also has no name. I have a friend who calls it the “god self” and she is referring to the spark of divinity within– the part of self that knows and knows that it knows. It the internal sometimes subtle, sometimes quaking squirming when things are not quite ethical, are out of integrity, not in alignment with one’s best interest, inhumane or erodes dignity. 

When my friend, another minister from my seminary, needs to make a decision she literally says: “let me check with my god self,” she closes her eyes, adopts a sober expression, goes silent for a few seconds and then pronounces her decision. And she is never wrong. He decisions are life affirming for her and add spark and juice, joy and spirit to her existence. She is a delight to be around and a truly bright spirit. She is an admirable, inspirational and trustworthy being. One can feel the love eminating from her.

That is how Michael Jackson is described by those who personally knew him and were part of his inner circle of friends, collaborators, and colleagues. Their memories of Michael all have that glow of warmth and a measure of reverent appreciation– unlike those on the fringes of his orbit or who speculated and projected from a distance. Vogel has managed to capture some of that warm glow in Man in the Music.

That Jackson dared to dream of a different kind of world should have been cause for celebration intead of ridicule. That he instituted the idea of fundraising and philanthropy for those less fortunate by leveraging his fame, talent and visibility is all but forgotten in the mythology that surrounds his legacy. He preached in his words and in his lyrics about unity, oneness and the pregnant potential in a world come together for the sake of stewardship– of people, of children, of the planet. “I believe in us, he said.” And I believe he did.

Millions around the world heard that message and felt that pregnant potential in it. His audiences spanned all ages, ethnicities, religions, cultures, countries, and broke down any barriers of exclusion or separation. He made friends of enemies and heads of state. A true visionary, he reminded humanity of its pregnant potential even in the face of ridicule and humiliation. A world without Michael Jackson’s influlence might be more cold, more divisive, more cynical. A study of his lyrics reveals a ministry of belief in humanity and a conviction that we can ‘change the world.’ Perhaps that is why his passing brought people into the streets weeping. There are very few indeed for whom people might be at their passing– ‘weeping in the streets.’ Some don’t know why they cry; they just do. Perhaps it’s because the value and influence of a “Michael Jackson” has yet to be tallied.

Vogel’s book, while reportedly off to a start that is slow by some standards, Man in the Music is likely destined for appreciation in a cultural and historical sense long into the future. As those inspired by a resistance to something they cannot yet name gain understanding and with it momentum, the depth of Vogel’s effort will be more appreciated. I hope the day when this kind of work, not just about Jackson, but like visionaries who go unrecognized and unappreciated by the cynical majority, is popularized by a longing for “soul” in all human affairs is– soon at hand.

Man in the Music is part of the first wave of a revolution in the making that longs to leave behind that which is toxic– in society and human affairs. Art and literature will significantly contribute to a new awareness arising on the planet that for now remains amorphous and nameless. I would like to see Joe Vogel and others with visionary soulfulness rewarded financially and with recognition for their contributions to that effort. So, please consider taking a photo from around the world featuring recognizable images or intorduce us to new images and places. You too are a ‘cultural creative’ and first wave visionary– let us recognize you.

Here is someone whose lucky friends will be receiving as a Christmas gift, one of the eight total copies she purchased– six during the contest and two since its closing– of Man in the Music.

Meet Kimberly who lives near Chicago and shares Man in the Music and the Chicago skyline.


  1. gertrude said . . .

    I went into my favourite bookstore up here in Canada to see what they were dong with Man In The Music. I asked them why this new release wasn’t downstairs prominently displayed at the front of the store like the other new releases. They looked it up and said it wasn’t displayed because they had only been sent 3 copies, and that it was upstairs in the rock and roll section!! I shared with them that this was a masterful and scholarly analysis of the impact on our culture of Michael Jackson’s oeuvre, and was inappropriately placed with the typical sex, drugs, rock and roll and tabloid trash emmissions found in that section, which they were surprised to learn.

    Then I went upstairs to find it. It was so buried on a shelf close to the floor, that it was almost impossible to find, even if you knew what you were looking for. Of course I picked the 3 copies up and moved them to a prominent location where people could fully see them as they were walking by. I went back 2 days later and they had all sold.

    HAH! as Michael would say in Monster. I guesss the head office will be hearing from me. In a city as Michael-positive as Montreal is, I expected better from them.

    Posted November 26, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink
  2. Joslyn said . . .

    As I was reading your article it reminded of a conversation that I had with someone earlier this afternoon. She had mentioned Princess Diana. We agreed that it is too often that great visionaries are not recognized for their complete value in their lifetime. I just hope the momentum keep growing in favor of Joe Vogel’s book having a huge positive impact on Michael’s legacy and will continue to do my part to help.

    Posted November 26, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink
  3. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks for letting us know. Maybe we’ll need to write some letters to headquarters?

    OK, so everyone is now an officially deputized MP (Michael Police) so… go into the bookstores and find out where Man in the Music is and have a conversation with the store managers to get the book moved up to the “New Releases” section. Everybody game? You can all report back here. Let us know what you find.

    Posted November 26, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink
  4. Kim said . . .

    Rev. Barbara, I will always do my part to bring forth the truth on who Michael Jackson was and how much he changed world; both musically and otherwise. I will take many more pictures with the book if I need to. I will also be popping into book stores to see where copies of MIM are shelved. Mr. Vogel’s book is a very comprehensive, insightful and inspiring journey of the creative genius that was Michael Jackson. I feel like I am right there during the creative process. Mr. Vogel did a exceptional job taking the reader on a fantastic and artistic journey with his words and facts. You can count on me to talk about and showcase Mr. Vogel’s work everywhere I can. Thank you.

    Posted November 27, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink
  5. Susan Trout said . . .

    Man in the Music is a delightful feast and I’m savoring every word. What a treat to discover this wonderfully talented writer with a superb understanding of all aspects of music and who, thankfully, chose to write about a man in whom music found the perfect nursery to be birthed, nurtured, and given wings to soar forever. Joe’s exhaustive and meticulously researched book is like a beautiful journey into Michael’s soul. He so deserved this work. I hope wherever he is, he is smiling and jumping for joy. He knows. Now, in addition to the music itself, Joe’s story about how it came to be illuminates Michael’s statement about great music lasting forever. The journey has been captured for all time in the pages of this memorable book.

    Not long ago I had the good fortune to meet a woman through my job at Macys. We struck up a conversation. She was petite, incredibly stylish and fun! In our short discussion while I helped her shop, we talked about politics, our culture, our economy and yes, spirituality. I learned she played the harp and had a notable position in one of the large local churches in my area. I told her I missed the communion and wonderful music of church. She inquired about whether I had a church home and I said I didn’t but named many of the churches in my area where I had worshipped. One of my favorites was a predominately African American church. I came to love the congregation and the pastor. The music would always have us on our feet, clapping and dancing in the isles. I said how much I missed the music and that I’d lost my voice and couldn’t sing very well anymore. We talked some more and she mentioned her voice coach….Seth Riggs. Naturally the conversation progressed to Michael Jackson. She boldly stated that she thought he was murdered.

    We both felt that music broke down barriers and united people. I look forward to cultivating a friendship with her. Naturally I’m anxious to know more about her relationship with Seth, who is now retired.

    There are two Barnes and Noble stores in my area who have but two copies, each, of Man in the Mirror. My plans are to inquire why the book is not more visible among the new releases. Instead, it’s on the shelf where other musical celebrities’ books are located. I purchased two extra copies during the contest and both are slated for donation to two libraries in my area.

    It’s a good effort to urge book stores to make it highly visible. As word gets around, hopefully sales will continue to rise.

    This book has the potential to be a beautiful time capsule for generations to come. Yes, Michael Jackson will live forever through his artistic and musical genius.

    Posted November 30, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  6. Susan Trout said . . .

    Forgot to include that I’m trying to figure out how to get my horse to the Capitol Building in Sacramento so I can have a friend snap a picture of me holding Joe’s book on my trusty steed! If no dogs are allowed, I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to convince them to allow my horse! I tried pursuading one of the mounted police officers to let me borrow his horse for a quick photo-op but he wasn’t buying it.

    What I’d really like is to be on the valley floor of Yosemite with El Capitan in the background–God’s Cathedral. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

    Posted November 30, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *