It’s now been two months since we woke up to the news that you had been found dead on Christmas Day – Of all the shock departures from the world of entertainment last year, yours was the one that affected me most and I still can’t quite believe that you will never again pop up on our screens chatting, singing, campaigning or joining forces with some of our finest comedic talents in one of their fund-raising sketches – Kind of cornered the market with those of late and raised an awful lot of money into the bargain so good on you.
But of course we are now well into Awards Season – Last week we had The Grammys and this week it was our own Brit Awards. Every year there is a short interlude where they give remembrance to those of you who have passed away since the last awards ceremony – 2016 will go down in history I think for being a freakish year in terms of loss. So many of you who were still so young and had so much more to give, left this mortal coil. I did think at the start of the year that this would just be something natural that we would have to get used to, but no, it was indeed a mathematically freakish year and one I don’t want to see repeated for some time.
At both The Grammys and The Brits, there was a very moving tribute paid to you George, but by golly, for me it just doubly-emphasised what a fantastic singer you were. I never heard you sing out-of-tune ever, which is not something that the people who were given the job of singing your songs seemed to be able to do. First of all we had Adele at The Grammys who is generally very good at the old “live singing”, but even she had to stop and restart her rendition of your 1996 No. 1 Fastlove, because she had messed up. As a means of explaining she said, “I can’t do that to him, I just can’t” which was quite magnanimous of her I suppose. I have a feeling that you and her were probably friends and shared a similar sense of humour but I can’t be sure – Hopefully though you were looking down at her and appreciated what she was trying to do albeit in a bit of a, dare I say it, botched fashion. As for the really slowed down version of Fastlove (oh the irony), I can understand how an up-tempo number would have been inappropriate but somehow it just didn’t work for me. I am therefore going to remind myself of how it should be performed by none other than your good self. I am noticing however that in this video you were going through one of your crisis of confidence phases in terms of how you looked – Yes, it was your “I don’t want to show the right side of my face anymore because it doesn’t look so good” period which was just ridiculous as you were a fantastically attractive man from any angle. Just goes to show how these things can really get into the psyche however and although totally unreasonable, are difficult to shake off. I have a terrible feeling that at the time of your death you were not at all happy with how you looked which is just so sad – Could have been easily resolved if you’d had the right people around you to help.
Fastlove by George Michael:
So, we’ve had Adele with Fastlove complete with a brilliant set of images of you on the big screen – Yes George we even saw the right side of your face and it was lovely. Next up we have The Brit Awards and this time we had none other than Chris Martin of Coldplay doing the tribute song. Hmm… Not my first choice but he does seem to sell an awful lot of records so got the gig – Again not really appropriate for him to have performed one of your more up-tempo numbers (can’t really imagine Chris Martin in a pair of little white shorts and a Choose Life T-shirt singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go) so what did he go for? – A Different Corner from 1986. But hey, this wasn’t just any old version of A Different Corner – Oh no, it was a really, really bad one! Thankfully at one point they did that really clever thing where a duet is possible with you on the big screen and him on stage (singing out-of-tune) so again your brilliance, from beyond the grave, saved the day.
I have always loved the song A Different Corner and here is a bit of a funny story George. Many years ago before I met Mr WIAA I had a great friend called Anne. We lived in flats only a few doors away from each other and were practically joined at the hip for a few years – We both loved going out socialising at the weekend but often bemoaned the fact that we just hadn’t found “The One” yet, the person we would perhaps marry. We decided that we must always have been turning the metaphorical “wrong corner” – If it had been a different corner, as per your song, we might have bumped into “The One”. Oh how we laughed! Anyway, Anne eventually got a new job in another town and she, and the different corner jokes, were sorely missed for a while – I had to shop solo on a Saturday afternoon which was a bit of a lonely business. One day I was heading up the high street when I saw Mr WIAA walking just ahead of me – I knew him from our social circle but despite getting on really well we always went our separate ways at the end of the evening. I decided it was time for action. The day had come for me to turn the correct corner. It was a race against time but I managed to head into the shopping mall, quickly run past all the shops and emerged at the exit right at the top of the high street just as Mr WIAA was arriving at that point. I was breathless but managed one of those convincing, “Gosh fancy bumping into you” greetings as I met him. After a bit of a chat we organised a date for later on that evening and that my dear George was 28 years ago now, so thank you for inspiring me to take the initiative that day and make sure I didn’t indeed turn a different corner.
I am most definitely not going to share the Chris Martin version of the song here but a version you sang live on television some years ago, perfectly as ever. I think the time has come for me now to let go, and this will probably be my last letter to you. I hope that wherever you are, you have found peace. Despite the less than perfect singing at The Brits it was lovely to see your old pals Andrew Ridgeley, and Pepsi & Shirley read out their own tributes to you – It was a shock however to see Andrew looking like a bit of an old man. If he is looking older then so must we but there is nothing to complain about as at least we will have the luxury of growing older, whereas now you never will.
A Different Corner:
Farewell then my old friend – As these tributes show, you are sorely missed by so many and we thank you for all the wonderful songs you have given us. Because of them (and your amazing acts of generosity) you will never, ever be forgotten.
A Different Corner Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)
I’d say love was a magical thing
I’d say love would keep us from pain
Had I been there, had I been there
I would promise you all of my life
But to lose you would cut like a knife
So I don’t dare, no I don’t dare
‘Cause I’ve never come close in all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
And I’m so scared, I’m so scared
Take me back in time maybe I can forget
Turn a different corner and we never would have met
Would you care
I don’t understand it, for you it’s a breeze
Little by little you’ve brought me to my knees
Don’t you care
No I’ve never come close in all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
I’m so scared of this love
And if all that there is is this fear of being used
I should go back to being lonely and confused
If I could, I would, I swear
8 thoughts on “An Open Letter to George Michael RIP, Part 3 – The Tributes”
I can’t imagine anyone else singing A Different Corner, certainly not Chris M. I shall keep well away from that.
I loved your own different corner story. I can’t imagine my other half doing that to bump into me, although today is the 11th anniversary of our first date which she began by tripping up some steps and ended (abruptly) by telling me she was tired, hot and hungry, so she was going home, good night. I honestly didn’t expect a second date…
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No definitely stick to the George Michael version of A Different Corner. As for my story it does reek of the “desperate woman” a bit but honestly, as the two keen dancers in our group, we’d spent the previous few months always ending up together at things but nothing ever came of it so to speak – It was time for action and turning that particular corner. I always knew if it would work out as you have this sympatico with fellow dancers – I was right.
Good to hear you must have indeed got a second date despite the inauspicious start – That’s the best way. Slow and steady wins the race to someone’s heart!
I watched some of the Brits and indeed the Chris M performance left me cold. But I got quite glassy-eyed at the tributes from Andrew, Pepsi and Shirley, especially when Pepsi’s voice went and, more than any other well rehearsed tributes that night, however moving the words alone might have been, it was her inability to keep her emotions at bay which made it feel very real.
Like Rol I loved your own different corner story (and that snippet of Rol’s first date one too!). Mine was also a very slow burner, we hung out at the same music venue every week, I first saw him there playing in a band. I then let him pursue me for a long, long time while I just toyed with his heart. He won me in the end though (poor thing) 😉
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Yes it was really moving to hear of their journey from playing music in George’s bedroom to what they became. Very hard to hold it together at times like that but was a moving tribute.
So yours was a slow burner as well! We definitely were which is why I think I decided he needed a bit of a push thus conveniently exiting the shopping mall at just the right time. I’d almost forgotten about how my friend and I used to laugh about the “different corner” analogy. Yes it could have all turned out very differently had I mistimed my exit that day!
George Michael seemed to get quite a bit of bad press in recent years, but he was a talent, and as you say should be remembered for the music and good things for charity. I missed The Brits, but did see Adele’s honour him at the Grammys. I didn’t connect with the slowed down version of Fastlove, although I think it was a bold choice.
I remember George Michael was fixated on only half of his face in video for Amazing. Aging must be difficult when you are in the public eye!
Haven’t found the love of my life, but enjoyed your story about a Different Corner, I can see how that song is important to you.
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Thanks for this very full comment Chris – Yes he had lost his way of late and definitely had issues but I will always remember him for all the great songs and amazing acts of generosity. No I really don’t think either awards show tribute worked but then I’m probably biased as for me the only person who should be singing these songs is George. Will have to check out the Amazing video but in the one for Fastlove he made it clear that it was to the left side of his face only – And, he was only in his early 30s at that time! I also remember that at one point he was going to only do radio interviews from now on as he no longer wanted to be seen on television.
As for turning the different corner, glad you liked my story – I’m sure one of these days you too will find yourself turning the “correct corner” and find the love of your life!
As expected, this is a wonderfully written conclusion to your series of tributes to George Alyson and the details of your own ‘different corner’ moment are particularly sweet. Mrs S & I circled each other for a v-e-r-y long time before becoming romantically entangled, but I knew from early on in our friendship how I really felt and, I later discovered, so did she. One day I’ll write it all down.
As a matter of (perhaps controversial) interest, I happened to see a comment you left over at Jez’s place regarding your thoughts on Chris Martin’s tribute at The Brits and headed off to YouTube to check it out for myself. Now my loathing for Coldplay knows few bounds so I wasn’t expecting much at all, but I found his performance surprisingly moving. Martin was clearly very nervous to begin with (and who can blame him), but appeared to settle into his stride quite quickly – I thought the ‘duet’ sequences were almost unbearably poignant. These sort of ‘big bash’ tributes are an unenviable task, but I thought Chris Martin made a reasonable job of it. (I never thought I’d see the day where I’d find myself defending him of all people!)
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Unbelievably I have just been to George’s house today and have taken some pictures of the shrine that seems to have developed in the little park opposite. Very moving. We also had lunch in the local pub which I’m sure he will have frequented – should have made this pilgrimage last year as now too late for any chance of bumping into him.
As for the Chris Martin tribute it was poignant granted but for me the singing was just a bit “off” – Then again George just sang these songs so effortlessly that anyone else will seem substandard by comparison. Glad you enjoyed it though.
Heading home soon but have quite a bit of material for the blog from this short trip so watch this space! Hope your trip went well too.