The Honesty of George Michael And Why He Meant a Great Deal to Me
A handful of months have now passed; I have been a fan of George Michael (all the way when I was growing up in Pakistan) since the 80’s all the way to his current musical explorations. His passing hurt… the letting go of something that one thought has permanence. The voice remains… how can it not? How can it not, when you listen to “Kissing a Fool”?
That voice… crystal clear clarity. It rises above the instrument without ego. It has singular passion and intent. It sinks into you and grabs you. There is a life lesson here somewhere. Sit back and play “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and I dare you to disagree with me. There is no din, no distraction when he sings.
And it is true that our lives have plenty of distraction. The torrent of information, the demand to synthesize and create taxonomies in our minds on digesting that information, and then to contextualize that information is immense. So, we are in need of articulating what absolutely matters to us and anchoring around exactly that. When George Michael anchors “Through” on his repetition of the word, there is a commitment. Perhaps another life lesson.
Life lessons and a pop star who got his start in the 80’s, matured in the 90’s and who somehow sang songs which drifted over continents and mattered to me. I mean you listen to a song like “Waiting For That Day”.
It is as if he is right there having a chat with you (dang… listening to him explain how he came up with it is a revelation); how can it not matter?
I can be accused of being subjective here. Fair enough; but what is undeniable are his acute pop sensitivities (“Amazing” is a master class to the hacks which surround us today) which just makes you move. The secret ingredients of what it takes to make us move… right here. Life lesson?
What gets me sometimes as I listen to him, I never saw him live; always wanted. Joined his fan club so I can get the alerts, ticket updates, the tease and missives of touring and concerts… never got to see him live. He was touring in the UK, Europe and Australia and I kept on waiting for him to come to the US. I should have just got tickets to wherever he was on the planet and seen him with my wife (a fellow fanatic). Especially his last Symphonica tour. Would have loved to stand up and sing along with the masses, clap at the end of his songs, and tip my head in thanks. Say “thank you” when he sang “Praying for Time”. But it didn’t happen… just like it didn’t happen with Johnny Cash (another story for another time).
There was enough controversy (and stupidity) and pain in his life to last many lifetimes. Enough disappointment about wasting time. But he sang. He always sang.
For all the virtuosity, for all the mastery, for all the songs, what I really loved him was for his honesty. The honesty in his music. For all the right reasons, that is what he was at the core of his being… honesty. It gave birth to his art, it sustained him and his fans, and it is the necessary breath that makes the world go round.
George… you sang your honest heart out ( how did you, how did you, make Rufus Wainwright’s “Going to a Town”, ethereal?). Thank you. You listening to me? Thank you.
This shimmering light. Yeah… there is a life lesson somewhere.