The trial of Conrad Murray – a musical analysis

As Dr. Conrad Murray awaits his sentencing for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson, We Must Obey implements a musical analysis at three other elements in this court case: money, the media, and those who gathered outside the courts on a daily basis. Needless to say, there’s going to be some true words, and some harsh ones too – PC

Many of us will never know exactly what went down at the time of the death of Michael Jackson and the guilty verdict delivered to his doctor, Conrad Murray, with only the accounts of what was stated in the courtroom and on the newswires as word.

One thing is certain. America, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope you’re happy you’ve got your scapegoat.

Throughout this whole trial, Murray looked like a rabbit in the headlights. Rightfully so, because yes, he is guilty of not following medical code, guilty of unethical practice, and guilty not doing enough to save Jackson when it was critical to take action, and ultimately allowed himself to get caught up in the media circus that was Jackson’s life, though it wasn’t he who admitted the lethal dose in the end.

But whatever your opinion and regardless of the verdict, some of the fervour from the mainstream news outlets and the shameful hoo-rah brash triumphalism of Jackson’s fans really got me in the mood for some commentary on justice, whether true or fair or even clearly decrepid. That, or songs that tell of the downfall of a subject in general. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the songs serving as an alternative musical analysis to this sorry situation.

Metallica – …And Justice For All
[from ‘…And Justice For All‘, Vertigo, 1988]

It’s plain for all to see that such was Jackson’s celebrity status that there was a huge amount of money to be made from Murray’s trial. And like it or not, it’s hard not to look past that fact and wonder what influence it played. The title track from Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’ may be twenty-three years old, and a beast at nine minutes, fourty-four seconds in length, but to this day musically and lyrically remains relevant – indeed it sticks out like a sore thumb on the issue of justice. For Murray, justice really is ‘so grim, so true, so real‘. And ultimately, the client with the biggest team of lawyers won. No prizes for guessing who did have the largest ensemble. The only flaw here of course is that I’m not suggesting the trial was corrupt, although no doubt there had to be a lot of outside influence by the money men.

Bad Religion – Los Angeles Is Burning
[from ‘The Empire Strikes First‘, Epitaph, 2004]

There’s not many songs that hit the nail on the head about mainstream media than Bad Religion’s ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’. The standout single from ‘The Empire Strikes First‘, while not as memorable as some of their other classic material across their 31 year history, showcases Greg Graffin’s incredible lyrical ability as he weaves here a scathing attack on Los Angeles’ ‘media mecca’, who in this instance gave this story incredible levels of coverage. But LA isn’t the only one to blame.

In this country, I can’t remember a time when I wouldn’t flick to Sky News to see yet more coverage of this case. At a time when the eurozone is in meltdown and when conflict is rife in other parts of the world, you wonder if the mass media have their priorities straight. Clearly only viewing figures matter to them, and when you see the kinds of gatherings of ‘fans’ outside the courts, practically eating from the hand of sensationalised coverage, in itself no doubt creating this sort of frenzy. It only perpeturates the circus that Jackson created around him and turns the whole thing into a sordid sideshow.

D.R.I. – Think For Yourself
[from ‘4 of a Kind‘, Metal Blade, 1988]

This is more a broadside I’m using at the masses of people who gathered outside the courtroom, Michael Jackson’s fans. Quite simply, I don’t agree with fans of anyone getting tried by law gathering outside a courtroom. What exactly have you to do with the case? But more appropriately, what brought you there in the first place? Clearly Jackson’s cult of personality and the media coverage had a lot to do with it, but were those people – some of whom I swear must’ve been tagging along – actually so programmed simply to believe Murray was instantly guilty, leading the the mob mentality of people chanting ‘guilty, guilty!’ outside the courts, as though they were baying for the blood of a Roman gladiator. Do these people have jobs to go to, families to look after?

‘Think For Yourself’ sums up these morons quite appropriately from the get-go: ‘How can you be so quick to condemn/By word or rumor, heard from a friend?‘, and advises caution against going with the flow: ‘Inspect each situation, see from both sides/Seek out the truth, bury the lies‘. Anyone with half a brain could at least measure up this trial by looking at the facts obtained to come to a logical, objective conclusion, and actually just observed the trial from the vicinity of their home, workplace or other. Unfortunately, nobody told the zombies who descended upon the courts like a plague, the majority (if not all) having jack to do with Michael Jackson or his family, other than being a fan.

The purpose of We Must Obey wasn’t to necessarily get involved in matters like this, but as proved with the earlier article on the England Riots, I felt inclined to put such a spin on matters through metal/alternative/rock music as a social commentary. And quite frankly, the sooner this is all over and we don’t hear about it again, the better. Report real news. Go get a job and care for YOUR family. Let Michael Jackson rest.

Peter Clegg
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