Music is my religion, and the musicians are the prophets who are always there, seeing me through the wilderness and bringing light and love back into my life.
Whether I am happy, sad, depressed, angry, or in love, these prophets always have something to say to me through their powerful lyrics and music.
In the past year, I’ve lost four major musical prophets from my life – David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and George Michael. 2016 is truly the year the music died.
Long before there was this awful invention called auto-tune, there were actual vocalists who belted out songs filled with pure heart and soul. George Michael was one of them.
In addition to being an amazing vocalist, George Michael was an exceptional songwriter as well; composing powerful, timeless lyrics, that helped shape the 1980’s, 90’s and beyond.
I won’t go into the exhaustive history of Wham!, George’s solo career, and his impact on the gay community, because by now you’ve read it all, I’m sure.
No, this is more of a personal tribute to George Michael and his music legacy.
As most young American girls in the early 1980’s, when Wham! burst onto the radio stations with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, I was an instant fan. I already had established my love for Duran Duran, so any band to come out of the UK was immediately put to the top of my music love list. Wham! was no exception. I added Make it Big to my record collection.
When the single Edge of Heaven hit the radio waves, I fell in love and had my dad take me to the local mall so I could go to Camelot and buy the 7″ single. I played the hell out of that record on my little disco light record player. Edge of Heaven remains my all-time favorite Wham! song. There’s just something so energized and gets my blood pumping, I really can’t explain it.
Extra bonus – the music video, where you get shots of George shaking his ass and dancing. He was such a beautiful man. I never really liked facial hair on a man until him.
I was heartbroken when I heard Wham! broke up, but it was a short-lived heartbreak once George’s solo material started playing on my favorite radio stations. I wanted a boyfriend so bad so I could dance to Careless Whisper at a school dance.
And then the Faith album dropped on the scene…
Let me interject here, between George Michael and Prince, I (and many other young ladies) got my sexual awakening as a teenager.
Faith oozed with sexual innuendo and George performed his music with an equal dose of sex appeal. Who can forget the image of George’s backside in the beginning of the Faith video? The risqué and blatant use of sexual imagery in the I Want Your Sex video, to promote monogamy? Oh, and the Father Figure video… that one still makes me squirm.
By this time, I was out of high school and in college – and life started to bitch-slap me. Between the abusive relationship I was in and being pregnant with that guy’s child, I found myself in one hell of a mess. After placing my daughter for adoption, dealing with the aftermath of the abusive relationship and trying to break free of Mom-ster’s toxicity, I was a hot fucked-up mess.
And then I re-discovered George Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.
From that point on, Freedom 90 became my anthem. When I heard it play, I instantly felt stronger. There were times I would cry when hearing the song, but those were tears of strength, because I knew that slowly but surely, I was finding my freedom.
I went through three copies of LWPV1, as the cassette tape got quite the workout at home, on my Walkman, and in my car. Each song on that album spoke to my heart and empowered me. It was as if George knew what I was going through, was holding my hand and giving me a comforting hug in my time of strife. He understood me and I wasn’t alone.
Those few years were one of the most challenging times in my life, and even more so because I didn’t have a solid foot on the ground physically, emotionally or spiritually. George saw me through the darkness and helped guide me to bring myself back into the light. It was a true coming of age, with George as my prophet and teacher.
Over the years, I followed George Michael’s career and still enjoy his music. His music and lyrics are versatile and timeless. As with all other musicians, he is an immortal musical god now – and that’s not mythology.
I still own LWPV1 on CD and I listen to it a few times a year in its entirety. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, still gives me hope of better days and reminds me that I am worthy of happiness and love.
You tell me you’re cold on the inside
How can the outside world
Be a place that your heart can embrace
Be good to yourself
Because nobody else
Has the power to make you happy
Heal the Pain – Listen Without Prejudice, Vol 1
RIP George Michael 2016
- Edge of Heaven
- Freedom 90
- Father Figure
- Praying for Time
- Something to Save
- One More Try
- Too Funky
- I Want Your Sex
- Careless Whisper
- Everything She Wants
- I’m Your Man
- Bad Boys
- Wham Rap (Enjoy What You D0)
- Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
- Club Tropicana
- An Easier Affair
- White Light
- I Can’t Make You Love Me
- Kissing a Fool
- Cowboys and Angels
- A Different Corner
- They Won’t Go When I Go
- I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – with Aretha Franklin
- Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me – with Elton John
- Heal the Pain
- Waiting (Reprise)
- Feeling Good
- Flawless (Go to the City)
- Where Did Your Heart Go
- Last Christmas
- Somebody to Love – with Queen
- Waiting for That Day