Balm For The Soul #1 – George Michael, ‘Heal The Pain’ and ‘Desafinado’

It’s been a while since I posted anything new around here, but life has suddenly got quite busy for me, what with my college course, our business, and delivering guest posts (I’m over at Rol’s place this week), so finding it tough to set aside some time for the blog. I will now attempt to right that wrong.

It’s exactly six months since we first went into lockdown here in the UK, and as of today the rules have really tightened up again (especially in Scotland) with a whole raft of new restrictions kicking in, so almost back to where we started. I think most of us are now accepting the old normal has gone for the foreseeable, so maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and adapt to this post-pandemic world – There’s still a lot of great stuff out there to enjoy, and whether we simply stumble upon it, or actively seek it out, it can provide a balm for the soul.

I myself stumbled upon something last weekend that led me to think of that phrase, as it just seemed so apt. On Saturday night I caught Mr WIAA perusing the library of recordings on the machine attached to the telly, as we seem to be all caught up at the moment with our ‘boxsets’. I returned later to find him revisiting the George Michael documentary Freedom, which was released nine months after his death. Ironically, back in 2017, it premiered on our screens the same night as my 25th Wedding Anniversary, so I very unromantically spent the evening watching George as opposed to being all loved up with Mr WIAA. Much to his credit he didn’t even mind, as he knew I was (and still am) a big fan, which perhaps goes a long way to explaining how we made it to that landmark number, and now beyond.

I wrote about the documentary back in 2017 in my final Open Letter to George when I think I was still grieving for him, but three years on I could watch it again with less sadness, from the perspective of someone who has accepted he is gone, but is still so grateful we have his wonderful back catalogue of songs. The doc is peppered first of all with the Wham! hits, and then the solo stuff, progressing from the Faith album right through to Symphonica. As happened last time, I homed in on a couple of the songs featured, and they have stayed with me all week. One is Heal The Pain and the other Desafinado (with Astrud Gilberto).

Heal The Pain by George Michael:

How beautiful is that? Oh yes George, from beyond the grave you are healing my pain with your song. I accept the situation the world has found itself in and I accept you have gone – Your music is indeed a balm for the soul. Something I hadn’t realised until now is that this song came about as an homage to Paul McCartney in whose style the song was written. In 2005 George got the chance to record a version with Paul, and it ended up being included on his greatest hits collection Twenty Five. Heal The Pain was the was the fourth of five singles taken from the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 entering the UK Singles Chart in February 1991 and peaking at number 31. It followed a pattern of reaching a slightly lower spot than its predecessor (the previous three singles having peaked at numbers 6, 23 and 28 respectively) which I now find quite unbelievable, considering the quality of the song.

Something else I find quite unbelievable is that until this week I didn’t actually own a hard copy of Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (there never was a Vol. 2 but that’s a whole other story), so when in town on Monday I swung by our local HMV which thankfully still seems to be trading. I was very tempted by a lovely looking vinyl copy sitting on one of the long display shelves at the entrance, but I dithered, and tussled with my conscience, as it was expensive and I don’t even have a half-decent turntable at the moment. On the other hand the CD shelves were awash with his albums, so in one fell swoop, for the grand sum of £15, I filled the gaps in my Wham!/George Michael collection of music. I’ve not even played them yet, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to have something tangible as opposed to digital, which although highly practical and portable, just doesn’t always hit the spot.

Filling in the gaps – At last!

Before I go I want to share the other song that’s stayed with me since rewatching the doc last weekend. During these troubled times, what could be better than a bit of bossa nova, combined with the dulcet tones of George Michael & Astrud Gilberto (The Girl from Ipanema). It seems Desafinado has been recorded by at least 65 people since 1959 and is translated into English as ‘Out of Tune’ or ‘Off Key’, originally written as a response to critics who claimed bossa nova was a new genre for singers who couldn’t sing. Well this pair certainly can sing, and listening to the 1996 recording feels like being wrapped in a large, fluffy, comfort blanket. Yet another balm for the soul.

Desafinado by George Michael (with Astrud Gilberto):

So, “What’s It All About?” – Not sure if I can keep up the positivity around here long-term but it seems being just that little bit too busy is also good for the soul, as it leaves little time for doomsurfing/doomscrolling, which I’ve spent far too much time doing of late.

As for my apparent fan worship of George Michael, it’s really not like that at all. In fact it wasn’t until he died on Christmas Day 2016 that I realised he had been there by my side for the entire journey that was my adult life. In a non-interfering, almost unnoticed way, he had provided one of its soundtracks and was there at a few of the most pivotal points, including the birth of DD (but not literally). Like many others I will probably continue to make new George Michael discography discoveries, and will thank the universe for having allowed this kind, sensitive, genius of a man, into our lives.

Until next time….

Heal The Pain Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

Let me tell you a secret
Put it in your heart and then keep it
Something that I want you to know
Do something for me
Listen to my simple story
And maybe we’ll have something to show

You tell me you’re cold on the inside
How can the outside world
Be a place that your heart can embrace
Be good to yourself
Because nobody else
Has the power to make you happy

How can I help you
Please let me try to
I can heal the pain
That you’re feeling inside
Whenever you want me
You know that I will be
Waiting for the day
That you say you’ll be mine

He must have really hurt you
To make you say the things that you do
He must have really hurt you
To make those pretty eyes look so blue

He must have known
That he could
That you’d never leave him
Now you can’t see my love is good
And that I’m not him

How can I help you
Please let me try to
I can heal the pain
Won’t you let me inside
Whenever you want me
You know that I will be
Waiting for the day
That you say you’ll be mine

Won’t you let me in
Let this love begin
Won’t you show me your heart now
I’ll be good to you
I can make this thing true
Show me that heart right now

Who needs a lover
That can’t be a friend
Something tells me I’m the one you’ve been looking for
If you ever should see him again
Won’t you tell him you’ve found someone who gives you more

Someone who will protect you
Love and respect you
All those things
That he never could bring to you
Like I do
Or rather I would
Won’t you show me your heart
Like you should

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

12 thoughts on “Balm For The Soul #1 – George Michael, ‘Heal The Pain’ and ‘Desafinado’”

  1. Always had a unadmitted (is that a word) respect for George’s music…dare i admit it..even Wham. His passing was unexpected and undoubtedly sad and from all accounts he seemed a completely down to earth bloke.
    His liking of ‘herbal’ relaxants was completely left field but never judge a book by it’s cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What you are talking about is a “guilty pleasure” and we don’t allow that term around here! Nothing to feel guilty about when it came to George though, and even with the early frivolous Wham stuff. By the age of 21 he was writing all the songs, singing them, producing the albums and playing most of the instruments, so a bit of a wunderkind. He thought of quality pop music as an art form and to think he wrote Careless Whisper at age 17 in around 15 minutes was quite remarkable. Same with Last Christmas. His solo stuff was just amazing and I’m so glad I have now filled in the gaps in my collection. Too busy spending my money on socialising (at the Dutch Mill in my Benneton jumper!) in my late 20s instead of buying albums obviously.

      He was down to earth but he lacked confidence (why he wore shades so often – to hide behind), bruised too easily and was an “overthinker”. His family background meant to had to stay humble, and not feel proud of his accomplishments, and as for coming out as gay, that just couldn’t happen until he was a lot older. He was incredibly generous though and it wasn’t until after his death we heard of his many, many acts of kindness – He is now down as being a Philanthropist as well as a Musician but sad he died so young.


    1. Gosh, the only reason I even know of her name is because of The Girl of Ipanema, so didn’t know she’d carried on singing until the 1980s. Good for you to have seen her in concert. Hope it was enjoyable.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Liam was one of the people in the documentary (although he was my least favourite contributor) so as you say, his fanbase was far and wide. You keep sharing great stuff from Twitter but I just can’t go down that rabbit hole too, or there will definitely be no time left for blogging – Keep sharing though.


  2. Good to have you back, Alyson.

    When I first bought a CD player, Faith was the first CD I bought. I already had the vinyl so I must have been really into that album at the time.
    Soon after I remember Listen Without Prejudice coming out and there was something of a backlash, because it wasn’t Faith 2. I guess George knew there would be, hence the title. I still loved that record and think it showed his skills as a songwriter more than anything else he did. Sadly, I think the backlash caused him to step away from that potential somewhat. You probably know more about this than me, but that would be my reading of the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, guilt free blogging again (although I still have a couple of posts pending for other blogs).

      Poor George was ‘at the edge of madness’ by the end of the Faith tour and really didn’t know if he would ever perform again. He never wanted to go down that same route again of relentless promotion, touring and being on the cover of every magazine. The record company weren’t too happy about his new direction and in the US barely promoted Listen Without Prejudice at all. By the time the more up-tempo Vol 2 was in progress he had fallen out with them so badly it never came to pass (and of course there was the courtroom battle). I agree there is some great song-writing on the album and surprised that Cowboys and Angels didn’t even crack the Top 40 but by then everyone probably had the album.


  3. We all need some balm for the soul now and again. Last night I listened to a favourite album of mine with a friend. Just sat and listened. Heard stuff in there that I hadn’t previously been aware of. I’m trying (and failing) not to read too much into that, as I’m pretty sure it’s simply a difference in equaliser settings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there’s not an awful lot we can go out and do nowadays, so sitting at home listening to some restorative music is quite calming. I liked your phrase ‘a difference in equalizer settings’ thinking it was a metaphor for the times, but maybe I’m overthinking. We’re all doing a bit too much of that at the moment I suspect.

      Had a look at your new blog where you are being very anonymous I see. A very contemporary new look with some fine words as ever. Good luck with it – Hope it will provide ‘balm for the soul’.


      1. Thanks for those lovely words, Alyson. Yeah, the overthinking thing is very pertinent at the moment, although I guess that us overthinkers are now on trend! Re-reading my comment, I think the whole paragraph was maybe a metaphor for falling in love with someone else.

        Liked by 1 person

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