Take Me Somewhere Else
I was in the Air Force back in 1984. There wasn’t much in the way of material things that I could fit into my dormitory room, but I DID manage to squeeze in a record player. Vinyl records were the main source of listening to music on your own terms. It was either the vinyl, cassette tapes, or you were stuck with the three radio stations you could get in clear on the portable radio. The most important accessory to have WITH the record player was a set of headphones. The entire dormitory would be involuntarily obliged to listen to whatever it was I was playing had I not possessed the head phones. I would then..in essence..become the fourth radio station.
I would come home to my dorm room after doing duty for the day, take a shower and then plug in the headphones. One of the first tunes I bought at Peaches Records and Tapes was George Michael’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”. I knew every word and every “jitterbug” and knew when to lipsync the “yeah yeah”. Then the video came out of MTV (because at the time, MTV would only play music videos. Little known fact: MTV stands for “Music Television”. Oh yeah!) I love(d) George’s voice but if we’re being honest, I had a crush on Andrew Ridgeley. Even though I never heard his voice on the music, I saw his face in the videos. I was struck hard when they split Wham! up, but I continued to follow George’s career. Even through the scandal. What he did in his private time while in the woods didn’t effect his singing. And back in 1984 if you couldn’t sing…you didn’t have a music career. You HAD to sing or their would be consequences. Just look at what happened to Milli Vanilli. You can’t get to be a rockstar by lipsyncing (ahem..Mariah Carey…ahem).
George continued to inspire me with “Faith”, “Freedom”, “Monkey”, “Father Figure”, “I Want Your Sex” and he did the best rendition of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” that I’ve ever heard. Music was an escape. Always has been. I look happy on the outside, but the inside can get really dark at times. The only usher back to the light is music. And George ushered me to many, many lights.
I eventually moved out of the Air Force dormitory with my record player, my headphones, and my growing vinyl collection. There were so many days and nights with my headphones and dancing by myself to the music. You couldn’t be my boyfriend if you didn’t love music as much as I did. The first sign of a great relationship is if someone would sit in front of my vinyl collection and look it all over. I would think to myself, “Yep! That one is a keeper.” I rarely did television. I was wowwed by Whitney Houston in 1985. Queen, David Bowie, Electric Light Orchestra…my taste in tunes spanned all genres except country music.
I love music so much that not only did I become a DJ in a nightclub to get closer to the sound and the energy, Tim and I created our own music station. B2K Radio. Which is short for Bohica2k Radio. So imagine how hard it hit me that one of my all-time favorite songwriters and singers passed away last week. George Michael’s voice could crawl into my ear and wash away whatever ailed me. I would forget my problems as I sang along with him to “Freedom” or “I’m Your Man”. And, yes, I will forever have these tunes in my vinyl collection (I still have it), but I’ll never hear a new tune from George Michael. Ever. Michael Jackson was a hard hit for me when he passed away. George Michael was an even harder hit. I liken it to when I first learned Freddie Mercury passed away. It could NOT have been true. But it was. And I was heartbroken. Just as I am today. My world is now George Michael-less.
There were very few gay leaders in my young life. Mainly because one couldn’t be gay without having to look around corners in fear of being beat to death. No joke. Gay guys were beat. To the death. Prince was one of my icons even though he never committed to which way he was swinging. Freddie Mercury made it known that he liked anyone he could get his lips on. Michael Jackson was always a mystery, while Elton John let us know that he enjoyed the company of men. Pete Burns (Dead or Alive) changed his entire look to become a woman. Boy George tried to look like a woman while still maintaining the chasis of a man. George Michael, though. He took his show to the woods for his not-so-private sexcapades. He had become MY new hero. And even though he never knew who I was…I was now in love with George Michael and all his Georgeness. He pulled me through some very tough times and never even knew it.
So during our “Friday Night Movie” this weekend (we watched “Keanu”) Imagine my surprise when Keegan-Michael Key’s (Key) favorite song is “Faith” by George Michael. I got all teary eyed during a comedy movie. Then while bingewatching “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” here in the studio, the gang did a dance at their highschool reunion to “Freedom”. Again…I got weepy during a comedy show.
It would seem that I wasn’t the only one who was/is/always will be a fan of George Michael. There’s a huge void in my musical life now. It’s called George Michael. Rest In Peace. Kick some ass up there in rockstar heaven with the rest of the gang.