When we hear “Mozart” or “Beethoven,” we think of a person behind the music. When we hear “Bach,” we think of music only.

I saw that blurb on Arts & Letters Daily, and it immediately occurred to me that nothing’s changed in several hundred years.

It brought to mind a conversation Sherry and I had a while ago. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is undeniably a great album, classic nearly end to end. (I’ve been reminded even more of this with the album’s 25th anniversary and the remix version by contemporary artists.)

However, what invariably happens when you hear the opening riffs of a Michael Jackson song? You start grooving. Thriller, Beat It — it’s hard not to. But then a second later your brain goes, “Ew”.

It’s become impossible to separate the music from the man, the freak show he’s become, and the various proclivities he’s reported to have.

For some artists and celebs, the shenanigans they get into in their lives can, and are, overlooked. They have PR machines whose multi-million dollar purpose in life is multifaceted manipulation and prestidigitation.

And celebs benefit from the fact that “normal” standards of behaviour for the famous or for geniuses is very different from that expected of the average joe. Plus, when the alchemy produces real magic, the wizard becomes invisible.

But for some of them, they live too big or go too far even for fame’s allowances. Or, by quirk of fate, they’re chosen to become lodged in the cultural consciousness, while other near-clones languish in “long tail” obscurity years, decades, even centuries later. (Quick, name a composition by Antonio Salieri.)

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