|Club Tropicana and Faith. I had the posted in my bedroom.|
All we have to see is that i don't belong to you and you don't belong to me.
Freedom. Hold onto my freedom..." George Michael Freedom 90.
If there was one singer who embodied the optimism of my youth, it was George Michael. He was on when we got MTV in 1984. At first I was repulsed by "Wake Me Up before You a Go Go." But I came to love it, reveling in his tacky, campy sound, buying a copy of WHAM's "Fantastic" album, putting the Club Tropicana album poster on my wall, and learning the words to the "WHAM Rap":
Do you want to work? (no)
Are you gonna have fun? (yeah)
Do you wanna be a jerk? (no)
Are you gonna stay young? (yeah)
Everybody say Wham (Wham)
Say bam (bam)
Everybody say Wham (Wham)
Say Wham-bam (Wham-bam)
"Young Guns Go For It" was my favorite song on the album.
Well I hadn't seen your face around town awhile,
So I greeted you, with a knowing smile,
When I saw that girl upon your arm,
I knew she won your heart with a fatal charm.
We used to get stoned after school, taking turns rapping along, laughing
all the way. We listened to WHAM for hours, sitting outside by the pool,
moments of frivolity long gone by.
And then there was "Faith," his solo album which came out just before my
senior year in high school. That was the album of the year.
Everyone sang along, "You gotta have faith a faith a faith." We listened
to it at parties, danced, made out to it, and even paid attention to some of the words.
"Father Figure" pointed to a romantic feeling, a sweet earnestness deep inside.
So when you remember the ones who have lied
Who said they they care
But then laughed as you cried
Don't think of me
Because all I ever wanted
its in your eyes
Those last brooding lines were my favorite.
Its hard to imagine how many make out sessions were inspired by
those lyrics, the whole album really.
I have a lot of memories about that one.
My favorite George Michael song was, of course, Freedom 90,
with its Manchester beat. That song got me through years in
California, careening across LA, up to San Francisco, dancing at my
wedding in 2001. George offered a soundtrack of growing up,
smiling, grieving for Freddy, laughing at one's self, thinking
about Christmas, dancing, and getting older. He was able to make
light of his arrest in a bathroomfor cruising in LA. Although
he was often quite closeted, he
pointed to an openness with one's self which suggested it was
ok to be who you were. The contradictions of his life were many.
But when he sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" or "Do
You Know Its Christmas?" he still suggested we could have
gravitas, hope and optimism even in the face of
a dark painful world. It was ok to have a little faith.
It was also OK to WHAM Rap.
"Some of my best memories are wham-rapping with you,' wrote my friend Ade
last night on facebook. I think a lot of us felt that way.
Thank you for offering that soundtrack to growing George.
RIP George Michael.
|George and Andrew horsing about.|