So another voice from my childhood is gone.
I wasn't one of those teenage girls getting hot flashes over George Michael back in high school. I mean, I thought he was handsome and charismatic and talented and had a great voice and everything, but his 1987 Faith album was so huge when I was in high school--one single after another released for like a solid two years--that by 1989 I was all Faith-ed out. I also didn't have much time for the stuff in the Top 40, since sometime around 1988 (freshman year of high school) I had followed Duran Duran down the musical rabbit hole that led me to discover darker, edgier artists and I became hooked on bands like The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxie, The Smiths, and early Blondie.
But then Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 came out. The first single, "Freedom" (the famous one with the supermodels in the video) was released during my junior year of high school, and--while I really dug that song--it wasn't until the beginning of my senior year in September 1991 when I first heard the excellent "Waiting For That Day" that I reconsidered my foolish notions about George Michael being "too commercial" for my taste and developed a new appreciation for him.
Every time I listen to it, it feels the same as it did when I first heard it at age 17. It just devastates me.
Something I just can't explain
Something in me needs this pain
I know I'll never see your face again
Years later (1998-ish) when my sister and I shared an apartment for a few years and she had his Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael double album, I started to get sort of obsessed with his musical catalog. While no amount of time could make me feel nostalgic about "I Want Your Sex" (I've always thought that song was corny as hell and, like, the opposite of sexy) I found that I started to take a liking to some of those old songs from Faith, like the title track and--especially--"Kissing a Fool."
And going further back to that period of post-Wham, pre-Faith, there was "A Different Corner," which George said was not a song about the end of a big, sweeping love affair. Rather, the lyrics were inspired by the sort of relationship that comes out of nowhere; one of those super-intense, short-lived flings that leaves you completely shattered and bewildered and wondering what the hell just happened when it's over. I think we've all been there at some point.
There is a glaring omission on that "Best of" album, a Wham song that I think has always gotten short shrift--the 1986 single "The Edge of Heaven,"--so much better than "I'm Your Man," the other Wham single from the same time period with an almost identical video that somehow people seem to favor. But they're all wrong. "Edge of Heaven" is the jam.
But enough pontificating. George Michael is gone, and it sucks. It's gotten to be a cliche that 2016 is killing all these great artists, but as the saying goes, cliches are only cliches because they're true.