George Michael

George Michael

June 25, 1963- December 25, 2016

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I can’t believe I’m actually writing about this. 

The past few days have been incredibly sad for me and for my fellow Lovelies. On Christmas Day, George Michael was found peacefully gone in his bed, by his boyfriend of several years, Fadi Fawaz.

The news broke in the evening, here in New Jersey. My husband came to tell me as I was changing into my pajamas after our happy Christmas Day with my parents. He told me and I was of course in disbelief. I really thought my husband was telling me a tall tale, maybe a joke that wasn’t funny. How could this be, I said? Christmas is George’s favorite holiday? How could this have been his Last Christmas, I thought to myself? Silently, I was praying this was NOT true. I went downstairs to double check this information on my phone. Surely, I’d discover it was a hoax, and my fellow Lovelies would reassure me and everything would be okay! I picked up my phone and looked.

Oh My God! Nothing was okay… It was true. George was gone.

This was the news we had been dreading for a long time and this was just really bad. The Lovelies were in tears. Tributes were flowing into our wonderful Facebook group. I felt my blood turn to ice and started to shiver before I even started to cry. I was truly heartbroken from that moment forward.

George Michael… Where do I begin? I suppose from the beginning.

Way back when around 1983-4, I heard of a duo from England called Wham! I thought they were okay. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was catchy but I wasn’t grabbed with that one song. But, that’s okay because, once “Everything She Wants” was released I fell in love!

That intro to the song, that video and good grief, that sexy voice!

 

SMITTEN!! YES!

Ha! Loved this song and then I heard “I’m Your Man,” “Careless Whisper,” “Last Christmas” and his vocals in Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas.” My Wham! love was cemented and soon enough, it was announced that George was splitting from Andrew Ridgeley to have a solo career and The Final was to be held at Wembley Stadium. What a crushing blow as a fan from the US! I spent that day on the beach with my friend, listening to Make it Big on my boom box.

We all know how it goes, a group breaks up and everyone falls into obscurity and you never hear of them again until something bad happens.

Incredibly, George had things in the works like his fantastic duet with Aretha Franklin and created something very special with her. This single was very reassuring as a fan.

What an incredible song and by far one of the very best duets I have ever heard! Honestly, at this point I figured this guy was surely something special if he was working with the Queen of Soul! (The 80’s were such a GLORIOUS time for music, so diverse, fresh and fantastic!) This had been the era of many duets, so many types of music played on radio stations and this song showed George had the stuff to work with the big league artists.

Then, Faith arrived and rocked my world! That album! It was like Magic!

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It’s the type of album that you can listen to all the way through. No skipping of songs, every single one of them was special and incredible. Faith was the bridge for George from his young adult, fun working through songs from Wham! to more mature but still very much, a  fun style of music.

I was lucky enough to see George in concert during the Faith era. I saw him at The Spectrum on August 9, 1988. I went with my best friend at the time, Wendy. It is by far my favorite concert I have ever been to. My only regret now is, I will never have the chance to see him in concert again. Thank goodness for YouTube! So much of what he’s done is on YT and much of it is glorious!

George had a true gift with that in songwriting. He grew with his music. He didn’t write just one style of music, he wrote everything! From a little bit of rapping with Wham! To recreating his music for the Symphonica tour to be played with a symphony orchestra. (Who takes their songs and puts them to an orchestra? Well, George did and it’s brilliant!) In the past, George lent his vocals to a few of Elton John’s songs, sang “Somebody to Love” with Queen at a tribute concert for Freddie Mercury, as well as many charity concerts, a Cover to Cover tour and his Trojan Souls project.

As I became an adult, and day to day life over took my love for music, I stopped listening and got away from music on a whole. But, in the meantime, George did make more music. His style changed from the earlier “Faith” and even “Listen Without Prejudice.” He went through major life changing events that impacted him in ways we will truly never know about. Some of those events were very public, but I think there was much that happened behind the scenes that remained private for him. All of those events created gorgeous, reflective, hauntingly beautiful and fun songs that would carry him through to the end of his very public, yet private life.

I’m sure by now people have heard about George’s philanthropy. It doesn’t hurt to mention it again, because it is important to know about how generous this man really was. Over the years, George gave money to many people and charities anonymously. He volunteered at a homeless shelter and gave money anonymously to a woman who wanted IVF treatments. He helped a student in nursing school pay off some of her debts. I could go on all day about the lovely, giving things he’s done. He wanted to make the world a better place for everyone, always and never wanted to be in the spotlight because he was kind and generous.

George was thoughtful and sensitive but could always find the humor in the ridiculous of mistakes he’s made in life. I think his humor is what I will miss… well, no, the unknown music yet to come… No, his humble spirit…Maybe his smile and kindness in his eyes… Actually, I’ll miss it all. George was the whole package. He was an honest human. He embraced who he was and owned it, all of it and I admire how ultimately, he handled himself. Unfortunately for George, he carried depression with him and he could never shake it no matter how hard he tried.

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I’ve been a fan of his since the mid 80’s. This past year both of my kids went back to school full time. My days became free in the sense in I could finally put the music I wanted to listen to, on in the car. In January, I popped in my one George Michael CD, Ladies and Gentlemen. (my other GM music was all on cassette tape and in my parents basement somewhere)

For 3 months straight, I listened to that 2 CD album. While I felt I was a bit lost internally as to who I am now, this music reminded me of who I once was. The old tracks reminded me of the music I once loved more than anything and the new tracks, well, they were new and different. I was unsure about them and I guess afraid to really try them out. Chicken to try something new. But, that would soon change.

I had been following George on Twitter for a long time but he rarely tweeted anymore. I looked at his page here and there… Then Prince died. Everything changed that day for me about how I felt about George. Something inside told me that I needed to tell him before it was too late.

That day, I tweeted to George about how I felt about him. I let him know that I loved him, appreciated him, his music and all the GOOD he’s put into this world. I then met Gus, who brought me into his incredible group where I learned SO MUCH about George and his music. Gus blew me away with his knowledge, dedication and incredible passion for this man we both admired. I’m really thankful to have become friends with Gus. I then became friends with the lovely Ilse and began tweeting with some LOVELY people (mostly Ilse’s friends :)) who embraced me and took me under their beautiful wings. I’m thankful to have them as friends.

I soon discovered that the music I was at first unsure about, was incredibly moving, mature and just so beautiful. I then realized that my George of Faith, grew into a gorgeous man with an incredible gift of sensitive songwriting and funky, fun dance music that makes your body want to get up and move. George Michael grew up and became a man, but embraced his music of his past, all the while creating more music that is truly timeless!

It’s a gift. I cannot think of any other musician/songwriter who has evolved in the way George has… Perhaps that’s truly the tragedy of this loss. George wrote music that was very personal, but while it was personal to him, the way it would hit you became very personal to you, like he wrote it for you.

Did you know that George wrote a follow-up to “Everything She Wants?” He did, it’s called “Understand.” It’s about that couple 30 years later. They love each other, worked out their original issues and are still together. I found that song to be so incredibly lovely because of the thought he put into both songs and that fictional couple. How is that possible, over that bridge of time for him to have found it important to follow up? It’s incredibly sensitive and beautiful, in my very humble opinion.

I fell in love with George’s music all over again this year. Gus, reintroduced me to old favorites I had forgotten about and introduced me to just the loveliest “new” music I had no idea existed. Plus the covers George loved to sing? I’ve been completely blown away at the vast range of music George sang! He was the most incredibly gifted artists I think I have ever been exposed to in my life. There will never, ever be another like George.

One of my very favorite songs of recent years is one called “Round Here.” I particularly love it because it is about George’s parents, David, Andrew and how George became the man he was.

I’m thankful for my journey of the past year. Maybe it wasn’t just because of my internal struggles of finding myself, perhaps my journey was so I could rediscover my love of George and to find my favorite Lovelies. So, when this awful time would come, I wouldn’t be alone and I would have the camaraderie of friends who feel exactly the way I do about this man who touched my heart way back in 1984. I grew up with him and this incredible treasure trove of music. I will grow old still listening, hearing his beautiful voice and remembering all the joy his music has brought me through the years.

George Michael will never, ever be forgotten by his fans, whom he nicknamed his Lovelies/Lovely.. We will introduce him to new generations of Lovelies and  hopefully, his music will carry on until the end of time. There’s always time to discover George Michael. While his mind and body are gone, his music and legacy will live on for years and years to come.

I’ve wept here and there since the news broke. It’s still surreal. Perhaps when they have the funeral, it’ll really hit me that this incredible person is truly gone.

Rest in Peace, George. Sing to God and the Angels and I hope you are now at peace with your beloved Mum and Anselmo. It comforts me to know you are with them now.

You Have Been Loved, George. I hope you know that.

TTFN~ Ro xoxo

 

My very favorite from waaaay back and for always…

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