‘Well I’ve been loved
So I know just what love is
And the lover that I kissed is always by my side…’
As the music world collectively mourns the untimely and devastating loss of one of its most beloved icons (2016 – fucking stop it already, really) – we are reminded yet again (rather cruelly) to celebrate our superstars, greats and legends while they’re still alive.
Too many have been taken away this year. Madonna and Janet are probably the only greats of the 80’s who are alive and releasing new music this decade, of course in the face of wide-spread criticism, ageism and sexism. Whitney, Michael, Bowie, Prince are all gone. Is it really necessary to criticize, deconstruct and demonize everything our idols do? Just because they are over a certain age or if they try something new? Why is it so difficult to be thankful for the music while they’re still alive? Have we not learnt anything after Michael Jackson’s death?
There’s been a lot that has been written about George Michael over the past 24 hours – a 100 million plus records sold worldwide, his 10 Billboard # 1 singles (including his hits from Wham!), his philanthropy, his activism, his kindness, his sexuality, his run-ins with the law, his drug issues. To me, the blue-eyed, buoyant and unapologetic George Michael was an enigma. Risque offerings were the norm for him – he was probably the only male artist who pushed the envelope sexually as much as Janet Jackson and Madonna did in the 90’s. His 1987 solo début ‘Faith‘ had already sold over 20 million copies worldwide by the time we entered the 90’s, and was everybody and their mama’s favorite album. But it was his third solo studio album, 1996’s cathartic moody masterpiece ‘Older‘ – released after 6 years of intense personal introspection – that I identified with the most. Life wasn’t easy growing up as an obese teenager with self-esteem issues, but music was my constant source of healing, a friend I could always count on – sometimes the only friend I had. ‘Older‘ was definitely an album that soundtrack-ed that period of my life, when I was busy feeling, dealing and healing with my own issues. The album provided an escape from grim realities and crushed hopes. Eventually, here I am.
‘Older‘ has sold over 8 million copies worldwide till date – producing an astounding six top 3 hits on the UK Top 40, as well as two Billboard top 10 hits. Two of the songs went to # 1 on the UK Top 40 Singles Chart, including the supremely infectious and sexy ‘Fastlove‘, as well as my Throwback Tuesday song of the week – the devastatingly lush ‘Jesus To A Child‘. Dedicated to his lover Anselmo Feleppa, who died of AIDS related complications in 1993, ‘Jesus To A Child‘ remains George’s most vulnerable song to date – a poignant ode to the loss of his loved one. It’s an utter disgrace that the media collectively chose to concentrate on his drug issues over the past few years instead of focusing on the many gifts he had given us.
Rest In Peace George Michael – you’ve helped change my life for the better. Thank you for the music.
Check out ‘Jesus To A Child‘ right here :