… Rose Fine, a Jewish woman who was my beloved childhood tutor and who traveled with me and my brothers when we were all in the Jackson Five.
MJ: After the show I would run into Rose’s room. We’d read and have warm milk and I needed that so badly. She would always say to me, “The door’s open”, and she would leave her door open.
You think she saw you as her son?
MJ: She called me her son…
Did she show you unconditional love?
So you think unconditional love can be shown even by two people who are not related by blood?
MJ: Oh my God, yes, of course. I think I learned it through her and I have seen it and I have experienced it. It doesn’t matter with blood or race or creed or color. Love is love and it breaks all boundaries and you just see it right away. I see it in the children’s eyes. When I see children, I see helpless little puppies. They are so sweet. How could anybody hurt them?
Rose Fine, although she wasn’t your biological mother, was able to show you a lot of motherly affection?
MJ: And boy did I need it. I was never with my mother when I was little, very seldom, and I had a wonderful mother. I see her as an angel, and I was always gone, always on tour, doing back-to-back concerts, all over America, overseas, clubs, just always gone. Rose was with us all the way from the very first professional tour of the Jackson 5 until I was eighteen.
And she would teach you during the day?
Regular subjects? Mathematics? English? She taught all the five of you together?
MJ: Yes, together, three hours. She taught Janet, all of them.
MJ: Rose died this year, Janet and myself, we paid for her nurse and her hospital care, or if her television broke down or the electricity, or there was anything wrong with the house, we would cover the bills. Now her husband is sick, so I am taking care of him, and because we felt she is our mother and you take care of your mother…
You really felt like that?
MJ: Absolutely. She was more than a tutor and I was so angry at myself that when she died I was far, far away. I couldn’t get there.
… it hurt when I came to the door to see her and I went, “Mrs. Fine, it’s Michael”, and she would go, “You are not Michael”… That hurts so much. Growing old is not always pretty. It’s sad.
Joseph Vogel is an American writer and a teacher at the University of Rochester. He writes about music and pop culture for the Huffington Post and PopMatters. He is the author of three books, including the upcoming ‘Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson.’
‘Man in the Music’ is due out on bookshelves this November 1, and Joe was gracious enough to spend some time talking to MJFC’s Joie Collins about his book and what compelled him to write it.
JC: How long have you been writing professionally?
JOE: I’ve been writing professionally for about five or six years now.
JC: I’ve seen you described as a music critic and as a pop culture critic. How would you describe yourself?
JOE: I would describe myself as an interpreter of art in all of its forms. I do music reviews and features for The Huffington Post and now PopMatters. Academically, I’m trained primarily in literary criticism, but there is so much interdisciplinary work these days that I’ve taught and written about music, film, history, psychology, philosophy, politics, etc. as well.
JC: With all the books written about Michael, what made you want to write this one?
JOE: It hadn’t been written. I was always so fascinated by Michael, but there was so little of substance available to read, particularly about his creative process and the meanings of his work.
JC: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
JOE: I feel like Michael really hasn’t been given the respect he deserves among critics and journalists. When you read through assessments of his work there is so much condescension and bias. I want to begin a major critical re-appraisal of his work, particularly his post-1980s work, which is incredible, and deserves far more attention. In addition, I want the average book-buyer to be able to walk into their local bookstores and have an alternative to the the tell-alls and tabloid sensationalism.
JC: I agree, it seems as if everyone gets sort of stuck on THRILLER and BAD but, some of the best work Michael ever did came in later years with DANGEROUS, HIStory, and INVINCIBLE. Even the five original songs on BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR are amazing. In your opinion, which of these later albums is the most deserving of a closer look?
JOE: They are all very good — Michael didn’t make mediocre records. But for me, DANGEROUS and HIStory are two of the strongest albums of the decade. I would love for more listeners to experience what they have to offer. I read an article in which music critic, Robert Hilburn, was talking to Michael in 1995 about how his work had declined according to many critics and executives. It must have been so frustrating for Michael, because here he was, really at his creative apex, doing some of his most impressive, challenging work, but critics didn’t get it. Or they couldn’t look past his “eccentricities.” Or they expected a repeat of THRILLER, commercially and stylistically. It hurt Michael deeply — but he believed the music, ultimately, would hold up, and it will. Songs like “Who Is It,” “Stranger in Moscow,” “They Don’t Care About Us,” and “Give In To Me,” are among the best in his entire catalog.
JC: It’s not often we see a positive study on Michael’s artistry so, as you can imagine, the fans are very excited about this book. What made you want to explore Michael’s creative process?
JOE: It’s exciting to really immerse yourself in great art and explore what is happening and what is being conveyed. It’s exciting to go behind the scenes and see how a great artist operates. That’s what made ‘This Is It’ so fascinating. I guess sometimes seeing behind the curtain can ruin the magic, but with Michael, it didn’t feel that way. The more I learned about how he worked the more impressed I became.
JC: Do you feel this is a book for the fans or will the general public enjoy it as well?
JOE: I hope it will serve as a gift to fans and an eye-opener to the broader public. It makes me very happy to see how excited fans are for the book — they deserve to see Michael represented in this way. But I would like to see people that don’t know much about him, or know him only as a phenomenon or a tabloid fixture, to see what made him such a brilliant artist.
(submitted by borednschooled)
Michael answers fans questions about Billie Jean and his Motown family.
“Marvin Gaye used to come to my house at least twice a week to play basketball with my brothers. Stevie Wonder would come by for gatherings and parties. I would go to The Supremes house… it was really, sincerely, one happy family.”