Thank You, George Michael
To a newly minted insecure teenager, a fine man singing about holding me and never letting me go was a helluva drug. He had me with Careless Whisper but this was the song that embedded him deeper in my musical reverence more than many others because it was that perfect mix of need, want, angst, promise, hunger with more than a spoonful of lust. What else could a hormonal teenager ask for?
I would listen to Father Figure over and over, envisioning what it would be like to have him say those words to me, about me, to have him obsessed and crazy for me. I knew my hands weren’t tiny, nor did I have blue eyes but to be called his lover, I would have closed my eyes forever if that was what I knew awaited me.
I truly was touched by the singer/songwriter known as George Michael in a way that I’m just beginning to understand. Apart from being just downright beautiful, his lyrics were some of the words that popped into my head when I was just going through some challenging moments. The idea of being stronger than my past or of giving it one more try even though I’d been pinched before helped me to get some perspective. Then there was my friend who, as she was coming out to me, reintroduced me to Freedom '90. It comforted her and gave her the confidence to accept herself as she was in a time when being gay absolutely meant familial and philial excommunication.
Jesus to a Child, that was the song of a man who felt a loss so deeply that he took to the microphone to admonish people to hold on to the love you have with both hands and feet before it becomes a memory. To have an artist verbalize the emotions with which you struggle to admit you have much less reconcile, creates the kind of kinship that goes beyond lusty screams and throwing panties on a stage.
Was he this perfect icon? Please. More than a few times I rolled my eyes when I heard he was caught soliciting sex in a bathroom. I think I used the word “bonehead” more than once (no pun intended at the time). He made some stupid judgment calls...yep. Drugs? Booze? you betcha. The fact that he rode his demons as much as they rode him made him an insightful songwriter who had touched immortality long before he hit it big. The man was probably a mess in so many ways but that’s what made me love him. His flaws were his art and he turned his broken pieces into lifelines. One of my favorite songs, Praying for Time was ahead of its time despite being appropriate then. Listening to it now it feels more like a warning. Not many musicians can achieve that prescience and the ones who do...maybe that’s why drugs come into play because I can only imagine how heavy it is to see the underbelly of the world so clearly.
I’m still processing his death by raiding YouTube and listening to favorite songs of his over and over. (Funny enough, I saw the video for Father Figure for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I have to say, it’s a damn lucky thing I didn’t see it back then and that I’m not the stalker type. Oh so lucky) I’ve been checking out the Wham! stuff too even though I discovered Wham! afterwards. His body of work mesmerized me. Can’t say I liked it all but for someone to find their genius at such an early stage deepens my respect for him as an artist.
Look, I’m sure when the toxicology reports come back, everyone can point a finger to various parts of his life as possible contributors to his death. That’s the price of fame and celebrity, I guess. All I can say is Thank You, George Michael for being the voice I wasn’t sure I had and for helping me to heal after my ritual of picking myself to pieces on a daily basis. for being so damn gorgeous to look at.
Take care…you have been loved