||[Monday, Dec. 26th, 2016|04:47 pm]
The richest girl in town.
When I was 7 or 8, I remember running through my cousins' house out in the south Chicago suburbs while their parents were away, jumping on beds and tackling each other while "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" blasted at a volume that would surely have gotten us into trouble. A year or so later, I remember being at that house or maybe a different cousin's home when the video for "Everything She Wants" was on and the comments among everyone else--older than me--about what two pierced ears "meant."|
A couple summers after that, I would be leaping to my tiny lavender boom box whenever "Monkey" or "Hard Day" played on the local radio station to try to record it. I remember the controversy around "I Want Your Sex"--both the song and the video--and Aretha Franklin allegedly disclaiming him following their duet "Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)."
By that fall, I would live in Miami Beach. I'd finally have the Faith album on cassette tape and would listen to it constantly. When the tour was announced, I just assumed I couldn't go--wouldn't be able to afford it, wouldn't be allowed to go even if I could, and wouldn't have anyone to go with. I was in 7th grade and didn't have many friends.
A week before the concert at the Orange Bowl, I sat alone in my apartment while my mother visited her friend Cynthia down the block. The phone rang, and I answered it.
"Hello! This is Power 96 calling for Lauren Wheeler!"
"Uh...this is she...?"
"We heard you really would like to see George Michael's Faith Tour!"
My heart was thudding. "Ye--yes!" And then I realized I knew this voice. "Wait a minute... Cynthia?" She cackled.
It turned out that my mother's friend, who worked in marketing for Johnson Publishing, had been given tickets to the concert she wasn't going to use. A different friend of my mother's--Beverly--ended up taking me after Cynthia got into a car accident the day of the show and couldn't go.
I was a ball of nervous giddiness. I couldn't believe I was going. This was my first concert. I remember feling overwhelmed by the lights--and the video of George's ass in tight Levi's projected behind him. I also remember the Saturday Night Live skits that followed.
When Listen Without Prejudice dropped, and "Freedom! 90'" shattered whatever dreams teen girls had. I think I'd known already that George was gay somehow--maybe growing up around so many queer adults was clarifying. I didn't have a crush on him; my obsession was not romantic, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't find 5 o' clock shadows attractive for some years.
I have a soft spot for "Careless Whisper." The hotel the video was filmed at is the hotel that my friends and I went to after our senior prom. I sang that song during during karaoke at my company's holiday party two weeks ago. It's been one of my go-tos for a long time.
I remember sitting in Whitney's mom's car 9 years ago in Boston, singing "Father Figure" at the top of lungs. We were heading to the Middle East to see Amanda Palmer, but when that song came on the radio, we had to wait until it was over before we could get of the car. That's the song I've added to the playlist I've made for this year's fallen.
"I Want Your Sex" and "Father Figure" (among others) were so important to my college exploration of sexuality. I can probably still sing 90% of his songs on those early albums word for word.
I liked this bit from one of the NYT's pieces on him:
"He was ingenious with melody. There aren’t that many pop stars with as many parts of as many songs that are as exciting to sing as George Michael has — bridges, verses, the fillips he adds between the chorus during a fade-out. “Faith” isn’t just an album. It’s a complex city of modern sound: a collection of songs, yes, and a skyline, too."
I sang along to those albums in my dorm room and apartments a LOT. I'm so envious that you got to see him in concert.
[sigh] This fucking year.