That’s what George Michael appeared to be preparing for in 2017. A new documentary film, a new album – all to come nearly two decades after exiting the record charts and moving largely into reclusiveness. It is a return (redemption?) that will, sadly, have to be realized without him.
I love writing about music but hate writing about an artist leaving us and, in 2016, this happened all too often. For many of us, George Michael is still in his 20’s or 30’s, singing his heart out and moving about, arguably among the top, true talents to come out of the MTV era. And while he was a singer, the words he sang spoke to millions of fans across the world. He knew his audience and they loved him for it.
George Michael could have easily been dismissed after first appearing as a member of Wham! with the bubble-gum pop, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in 1984 and yet we watched (often in awe) as he not only moved feet but hearts with the haunting “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner”. As a solo artist, his growth as an artist – singer/songwriter – increased exponentially as he also matured with this audience. From controversial sex object (“I Want Your Sex”) to existentialist (“Father Figure”) to romantic (“One More Try”) Michael connected with his fans – giving them what they wanted but also keeping them guessing with beats and melodies the likes of which many had never heard.
In a Facebook post yesterday someone noted the cruel irony of Christmas Day being George Michael’s last Christmas, ala his holiday song of the same name. I prefer instead to refer back to a few of his other tunes (“Heaven Help Me”), (“Praying For Time”), (“Jesus To A Child”), and, considering his often tumultuous life, perhaps even “Freedom”. He has turned “a different corner” than expected yet we can still be thankful for the good fortune to have met him. (We) gotta have faith.