John Mayer: It's Michael Jackson's Music We Love

06/28/2009 at 04:30 PM EDT

John Mayer: It's Michael Jackson's Music We Love
John Mayer (left) and Michael Jackson
Chris Weeks/WireImage; Christina Barany/Getty

John Mayer

John Mayer

For John Mayer, who was born in 1977, Michael Jackson was the '80s – along with the Rubik's Cube and 3D glasses.

"People don't get upset when they talk about Michael Jackson dying, they get upset when they talk about how much a part of their life it was," Mayer, who grew up in that decade of Jackson and Reagan, tells Time magazine for its special issue on the pop legend, who died Thursday. "And that's the giant cornerstone that's gone."

Assessing Jackson's musicianship, the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling Mayer calls him "one of the purest substances ever in music. But it's frustrating, and somewhat pointless, to ever try and figure out how Michael Jackson arrived at an album like Thriller and how you could arrive at something like it."

Considering that 1982 studio album from Jackson to be peerless, Mayer admits, "It's one of those things you actually don't want to bring up to musicians because they don't want to remember that that kind of greatness is achievable, because it skews the entire bell curve completely."

Though he attempts to draw a distinction between Jackson's personal peccadilloes (which he cannot condone) and Jackson's artistry (which he can only admire), Mayer goes on to say that it is "fascinating [t]hat somebody could be that great. That somebody could have that much of a marriage with your emotions just through music."

In conclusion, Mayer says, "We don't have to reconcile the Michael Jackson we love with another Michael Jackson. In a way, he has returned to pristine condition in death. We can be free now for the rest of our lives to love the Michael Jackson we used to love."

ORDER NOW: The Legacy of The King of Pop: Special Collector's Edition

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