dinsdag 27 december 2016

George Michael, 1963 - 2016

It's the second half of the 80s and very early 90s, my university years and the years of great parties on the 7th floor of that ugly highrise in a 1900s street alongside a canal in Leiden. The 7th Heaven we called our home. So when Wham released its farewell single 'The Edge Of Heaven' it was soon adopted of one of our songs for those parties. It wasn't the only one we liked by the band or George Michael though.

Of course Wham and George Michael were no acts for me. Despite that, I did connect to the uptempo work they produced. Let's call it a guilty pleasure. 'Young Guns' was the first single by Wham and I think the second hitsingle, that I remember thinking 'at least something is happening' in this song. Compared to all the disco of the age. The exuberance of 'Wake Me up (Before You Go-Go)' connected to. It all led to a lot of dancing and singing along to. That Christmas single will be played forever. No matter what I thought about it at the time, it only takes one note for me to start singing along whether I want to or not. I did not like all Wham's songs that much, but a few them do stick out.

Then 'Careless Whisper' came along. Strangely enough, no matter how soft it was, I had to admit that it was simply extremely well made. No surprises here that it shot to the #1 position. In 1988 the curtain fell for Andrew Ridgeley and thus Wham. What his role was in the duo? I have no idea. The co-penning of 'Careless Whisper' may be seen the kiss goodbye. The song that leaves him a wealthy man for the rest of his life, if he played it right.

With 'Faith' the solo career of George Michael took off for real. Again dancetunes galore, but with one that stuck out. The funky track 'I Want Your Sex' really did well at our parties. Floormates danced their dirty dreams together before going back to their respective partners.

George Michael's best song, in my opinion, did not become such a tremendously big hit at the time. 'Freedom 90' holds it all. It has an relentless drive, a great, hypnotising melody and a beat that allows for dancing. And a text that shows that it is a troubled mind speaking to us. Looking back there are quite a few hints in his lyrics, but what did we know? I was only dancing, not analysing inner emotions.

After that my university days were behind me, the dance parties slowly faded from my life and the music George Michael produced since then all sounded boring to me. He was taking himself very seriously, but musically it didn't do anything for me. It is that in his obituary someone wrote that is was 12 years since his last album, I would not have known. Stopped looking and caring. At the same time his popularity, where his days of old are concerned, has not vanished. My girlfriend is shocked, my sister did not really believe the news at first. There will be many more women in their late 40s early 50s feeling this way.

To me George Michael is a pleasant memory of days long gone. Coincidentally I'm going out tonight with two friends from then and there. What we're going to do? Eat a pizza, see a movie, have a beer. I doubt George Michael will be a topic to discuss though. There's no doubt that he died much too young, I do doubt that he led a happy life. But what do I know?


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