My Personal Tribute to George Michael

Dear Georgie Porgie,

I don’t mean that in disrespect, in our family it’s on odd term of endearment, something we used to call my sister. If there is a heaven then you’re there with her now.

It’s been an age since you passed away on Christmas Day. Did you do that on purpose? To slip away on a day when there was so little news coverage? At the end of a year when we had lost so many greats? So that people couldn’t make too much fuss or include your music in the new year fireworks display? Bet you’re having an amazing party with Bowie, Prince and the rest…

Fantastic was the first album I ever purchased. My next door neighbour, who was a few years older than me, had introduced me to your music. I think she played it on one of those plasticy pink casette players that were all the rage in the 1980s. I remember getting a record token for my birthday and heading into Woolworths in my local town, up the escalator to the dimly lit music section to search out your album on casette. I played that tape so many times. I used to adore Club Tropicana and remember going to a tacky sea-side attraction with the same name in Weston-Super-Mare years later, humming the song to myself as I whooshed down slides protruding from giant pineapples. Ah, the 80s.

I remember my mom cleaning at someone’s house and me going along with her in the school holidays. The teenage girl who lived there was a massive fan of yours. This was around the time of Faith. She had posters and a calendar of you on her wall. She obviously fancied you. I was too young to understand ‘fancying’ at that stage. But I loved your music and your sense of style.

You’ve not just been there during the 80s though. You’ve literally been there all my life. Or at least you were… At school I was a heady mix of hormones so more into Take That and East 17 but after school I rediscovered you and also bonded with lots of people over your music. Back then you didn’t tour and I remember making pacts with various people that if you ever did we would go to see you together. We found you attractive. We didn’t care that you were gay, when we looked back at the 80s videos now it was kind of always staring us in the face really – hiding in plain sight if you will.

You were the soundtrack to many a romantic meal. You were the songs that made sense during break ups, make ups and meeting new people. Your lyrics made things make sense.

Eventually I did get to see you in concert. It was a dream imagined. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as excited as I was the first time we came to see you at the NEC Arena in Birmingham. We screamed, we danced, we cried. We felt so fortunate to see you perform and to hear that voice. Oh my god – that voice!

That first concert was with a friend. Unfortunately our friendship didn’t have the same longevity as my relationship with your music, so the next concert I attended was with my husband. He was skeptical but came along for the ride. His skepticism not helped by the fact it was an outdoor concert in the rain with Sophie Ellis-Bextor as the support act. As soon as you came on stage he was blown away by how powerful your voice was. He then came with me to see you perform a delayed Symphonica concert. He would never be the fan that I was, but he could appreciate your talent for a good lyric, sung in a silky voice and the passion you showed on stage.

Sure, there’s been some interesting moments along the way. When I heard that you’d passed my dark sense of humour initially saw me blurt out ‘He hasn’t driven into Snappy Snaps again, has he?‘. But those compromising moments made you, you. You blasted through the bullshit. You weren’t perfect, why should you have to be? Where’s the rule book to say I am a popstar, I shall be holier than thou? But at the same time you were the kindest, most generous person and we never even knew. Sure, we knew Band Aid but helping out in a homeless shelter? Giving money to a student nurse? All of this came out after your death and made a fantastic ‘fuck you’ to a right wing press who wanted to paint you out as a drug taking homosexual.

I’d heard that you were going to have a new album out this year ( I wonder if it will be released post-humously?). When I heard that I kind of hoped that I would get to see you in concert again, but alas that’s not to be. What I would give to hear that voice one last time.

I listen to your songs quite regularly now, I guess you don’t always appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone and now we wait to find out exactly what it was that took you from us.

 

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