30 days of blogging to break the dam

George Michael on loop

I woke to the news that 53-year-old singer George Michael had died.  2016 is becoming a year known for famous deaths such as David Bowie, Prince... and my own personal disappointment Alan Rickman who was my favourite character in the most memorable movie of my teen years (Robin Hood) Prince of Thieves, who passionately spat out a threat to cut his enemy’s heart out with a spoon.  If he’d been a singer I would’ve played his music on loop for days. 

But George. George Michael’s music was part of ‘growing up’, a staple of my music collection – in the days of cassettes and cassette players.  Each cassette was bought with hard earned money.  Music collections were a status symbol, a significant change from today’s access via music streaming of today.  I once bought cassettes, then CDS, now I don’t buy any physical product; I pay $12 a month for unlimited access to most music (not Taylor Swift apparently, but I haven’t personally noticed).  In my early teens, my collection was modest as I mainly received music as presents for birthdays and Christmas’s.  As only teenagers can do, I played my albums nonstop. Michael most famous hit, Faith is one song that I know off by heart 30 years later.  The catchy tune and clever lyrical writing meant that song was played till my mother’s ears hurt, and every word embedded in my memory banks, so that I only need to hear the intro and it all comes flooding back.  Re-watching the video online has reminded that I also spent hours copying the moves.  It was raunchy, a little rebellious and I remember feeling very sophisticated in my music choices, which is a little bit amusing.    

Even though he made some headlines with raunchy songs that broke several taboos at the time, I have no sense of feeling attracted to him, so no loss when it was made public that he preferred lovers of the same sex.  It’s almost comical to think that his song I want your sex,” was banned from mainstream radio, considering the material that plays freely today.

Many years later, long after I moved on from 80’s clangers like Faith, or Monkey, or Father Figure or anything, four songs remain in my ‘favourites’ playlist and have been playing on loop since the news broke.  They are timeless tributes to his exquisite voice; the crafted talent behind the commercial success.  They are played loud when I’m home by myself, as I lose myself in the vulnerability and sometimes pain in the stories these songs.  George Michael is part of the fairy-tale of love that we bought into growing up – the power of love and attraction, and need for another person – intimacy and connection ooze through his words and melodies.  He may just be a musical genius, pulling the heart strings of human emotion.

1ne: Don’t let the Sun go down a 1974 song that he re-released in honour of his friend Elton John in 1991
2wo: A Bonnie Raitt remake I can’t make you love me
3hree: One more try, written by George himself, and has some of the most heart wrenching lyrics that have ever been written from one lover to another, and speaks of the universality of human love regardless of gender.  There’s a sense of abandon to the love, or lover that I can understand in an emotional moment, or the three and half minutes of a beautiful song, and that catches the imagination of a teenager waiting to fall in love and grow up and live happily ever after.  But these are tired songs of love, long-lived, and maybe not mutually felt.

So thank you George Michael.  I dont know if you were happy, but I guess genius artists rarely are.  But I think you did give a gift to music, and lovers, and my generation.

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