Well, is it just me, or has today suddenly marked the start of Christmas in a really big way? It’s probably because this year has been so generally awful, anything that brings a bit of cheer into our lives is going to be welcomed with open arms. It felt as if every song played on the radio today was a Christmas one, and lots of people seem to have put up their trees and decorations already. How ridiculous – I would usually say – except this year I joined in! My bare little tree in the front garden is now festooned with lights and I can see a few more bits and bobs going up over the next few days. Meteorologically we have finished with autumn and are now heading into winter, but that first winter month is December, and for most of us in the western world December means Christmas.
I’ve not had too many rants around here of late which is probably a good thing. The pandemic has affected all of us in so many ways but it seems the ‘new normal’ (as we used to call it) is now just normal life. I was in a state of high alert for the first few months of the crisis and became a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, but have since learnt to keep my own counsel. It’s going to be a tough winter for many, but hopefully there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
I have been doing a bit of tidying up around here of late and my attempt at being a daily blogger last month really helped with that. I have reinstated some posts that had been taken down and topped up some of the categories that only had one post attributed to them. One category that has been incomplete for some time however is The Seasons In Song. In my first year of blogging I wrote a Summer post on the 1st June and an Autumn one on the 1st September. A couple of years ago I wrote a Spring post on the 1st March, but Winter has so far eluded me so it’s time to right that wrong.
It often feels as if this blog is a George Michael fansite as he appears around here so often. It’s not of course, but what better day than this to share one of his last successful single releases, December Song. It reached the No. 14 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 2009, but would probably have reached a higher position had physical copies of the record not sold out in only one day.
What I hadn’t realised before was that December Song starts off with a sample from Frank Sinatra’sThe Christmas Waltz. I’m a bit early really with the whole Merry Christmas thing, but I doubt if many people at the moment would object to the next line, ‘May your every New Year dream come true’.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – We had the November full moon in our skies last night which was a great way to end autumn but now we are most definitely heading into winter. There was a beautiful sunset in the sky this afternoon and I took a rather long detour on the way back from the shops just to appreciate it. Hopefully there will be more just like it.
It’s obvious that December 2020 is going to be very different from those we are used to but we humans seem to adapt and I’ve almost forgotten what my old life was like. I feel desperately sorry for all those people who have suffered loss this year, of any kind, and recognise this time of year makes it even tougher. Those of us who are able to, should go the extra mile in doing what we can to help them. Hopefully, all our dreams for 2021 will come true.
Until next time…
December Song(I Dreamed of Christmas) Lyrics (Song by George Michael/David Austin)
Merry Christmas Merry Christmas May your every New Year dream come true
Sweet December song The melody that saved me On those less than silent nights When snow would fall upon my bed White sugar from Jesus And take me to the day She could always smile The Virgin Child would always show, you see Just to save me (Just to save me)
There was always Christmas time To wipe the year away I guess that morning theyd decided That the war would have to wait
There was always Christmas time Jesus came to stay I could believe in peace on Earth And I could watch TV all day So I dreamed of Christmas
Maybe since youve gone I went a little crazy God knows they can see (the child) But the snow that falls upon my bed That loving I needed Falls every single day For each and every child The Virgin smiles for all to see But you kept her from me
There was always Christmas time To wipe the year away I guess that morning theyd decided That the war would have to wait
There was always Christmas time Jesus came to stay I could believe in peace on Earth And I could watch TV all day And so I dreamed of Christmas Yes, I dreamed like you
Merry Christmas Merry Christmas May your every New Year dream come true
Last time I shared something from my college course, so here is something else with a rather glaring musical connection.
This week we were experimenting with sentences of mixed length. To quote: ‘Sometimes sentences should be short. Other times they should flow, complete with commas and clauses and dashes to allow the writing to flourish and the point being made to really sink in, until the reader needs a bit of brevity to catch their breath again. Like this.’ – Yes, just like that.
Anyway, we were given only 20 minutes to come up with something, so most of us trawled through our hard drives to find something we could adapt. I headed over here and chose to tweak the story I shared after the unexpected death of George Michael.
‘Turn A Different Corner And We Never Would Have Met’, by Alyson
Many years ago, I had a great friend called Anne. We lived in flats only a few doors from each other and were practically joined at the hip. We both loved socialising at weekends but often bemoaned the fact we hadn’t yet found The One, the person we might marry. We both loved George Michael songs, and joked that we must always be turning ‘a different corner’. We obviously needed to find the ‘right corner’. Oh, how we laughed.
Anne eventually moved town for a new job. She was sorely missed as were the ‘different corner’ jokes. I had to shop solo on Saturday afternoons. It was a lonely business.
One day I was heading up the high street when I spotted a chap I knew from our social circle. He was walking just ahead of me. I liked him a lot, but we always went our separate ways at the end of the night. I decided it was time for action. This was not a day for ‘different corners’, but it would be a race against time. I managed to head into the shopping centre. Quickly ran past all the shops. Emerged at the exit at the top and turned onto the street. Phew, he was just arriving. I was breathless.
‘Oh hi,’ I said trying not to look flustered. ‘Didn’t expect to bump into you this afternoon.’
We had a bit of a chat and organised a date for later in the evening. That was 30 years ago now. We’re still together. Thank you George, if not for your lyrics I might never have ‘seized the day’.
In the end we had to read our pieces out to the rest of the class, and it was more than a tad embarrassing to share this story with a bunch of 18-year-olds (who had probably never heard of George Michael). Funnily enough I don’t mind sharing on the world wide web, as I’m essentially anonymous here, but in a more intimate setting…, just no.
As for George in that video clip, he does look very coiffed and cool in his white lacy jumper. Last Christmas (no pun intended), Santa delivered Andrew Ridgeley’s recently published book about the Wham! years. It was a bit of a revelation hearing about those early days, when they were both just starting out. What came out loud and clear throughout the book however was that there were actually three members of Wham. No I’m not talking about Pepsi, or indeed Shirley, I’m talking about George’s hair! Wherever they went, copious amounts of time was spent licking George’s wiry curls into shape, and I can only imagine how long it must have taken to achieve the desired look for the Different Corner video. When filming Careless Whisper in Miami, he even resorted to flying his sister out (she was a hairdresser) to deal with the humidity problem his blond locks faced. Who knew?
Until next time….
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
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 theGeorge 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).
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.
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.
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
‘It’s twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it’s time for Live Aid’
Those were the words that kicked off probably the most memorable fund-raising event in rock and pop history, and this week was its 35th anniversary. On Monday morning, after being reminded of the date, I decided to revisit my DVD boxset of the event and over the course of the week I’ve watched it all, and taken notes. Sadly these notes fill 12 pages of my shorthand notebook, so I have absolutely no chance of condensing my thoughts into a format suitable for a blog post. I do however remember how I spent the day, so before my aging memory lets me down, I think I’ll approach it that way.
You have to be of a certain age to remember Live Aid at all, mid 40s or older I suspect, but if you do, you’ll probably remember it was held on a glorious, hot summer’s day, the like of which doesn’t often fall on a Saturday in Scotland. I was a big music fan, but the concert would go on all day, so what did my flatmate and I do just before 12 noon on Saturday, the 13th July, 1985? – We went to the local park of course!
I was prepared however and had brought a small transistor radio with me, so although we weren’t watching the action live on telly we did hear the opening act,Status Quo, Rockin’ All Over The World. Had I been watching on telly, I would have known that Paul Weller, who was next up with his Style Council, was looking very summery and dare I say healthy that day in his white trousers, but we only had this crackly radio. By 1 pm it was obvious we should head back to our cool, granite, second floor flat – The day had become just too hot and we were missing out on all the action.
Over the next few hours we watched the following artists perform on stage at Wembley in front of an audience of 72,000. Everyone that day was hot and bothered, there is no doubt, but also having the time of their lives.
The Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Nick Kershaw, Sade, Sting, Phil Collins, Howard Jones, Brian Ferry and Paul Young.
Watching this segment of the concert now, 35 years on, it was a veritable Who’s Who of mid ’80s chart toppers (with organiser Bob Geldof included of course). The dress code of the day seemed to be either black leather or baggy white clothing depending on your musical leanings, but those who opted for white definitely suffered less in the baking heat. There were mullets of all persuasions too, even amongst those who were thinning on top (Phil Collins?). The quality of the singing was less than perfect, but hey, there had been little time to rehearse or prepare for this massive event so hats off to them for committing, as some did not and later regretted it. Final observation – So many saxophones! The instrument of choice for the mid ‘80s it seems.
And here is where the day was punctuated with another break from the telly, as the oil company I worked for at the time was hosting a barbeque for its staff that very evening. The flatmate and I duly got ready to head along Queen’s Road to the spot overlooking Rubislaw Quarry (from which Aberdeen was built) where many of these corporate HQs were based. Before we left however we caught the performance by U2 which is often cited as having elevated them to superstardom. Bono was tiptoeing around in his tight black leather trousers and long boots, but after spotting a girl in the crowd, jumped down into the mud at the front of the stage and helped save her from being crushed. They missed out on playing their third song but it was a sign of things to come from him, for sure.
So, we arrived at my workplace in the early evening, but bowing down to pressure from their staff, it had been decided to install a big screen in the underground carpark so we could watch the concert whilst eating the fine barbequed food only an American company could serve up. My workmate was there with her new boyfriend, so was on a bit of a high. As was often the case however with these office romances in Aberdeen, it later transpired he had a wife who lived elsewhere whom he’d conveniently omitted to tell her about. They were slippery characters some of these chaps we worked with who often broke our hearts.
But back to the concert, we were now lined up on chairs watching scenes coming live from Wembley on the big screen. I’m not going to describe the Philadelphia concert here as would get far too bogged down, and anyway, it just wasn’t a patch on our set-up. Wembley, with its enclosed stadium, twin towers and greenery all around, looked beautiful on that hot summer’s day whereas the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia looked like a makeshift set of scaffolding surrounded by carparks and interstate highways.
As the day wore on the stakes were raised and artists of more legendary status started to appear on stage. First up we had Dire Straits but then we had the band who is generally thought to have stolen the show that day, Queen. I have written about their Live Aid performance around here before and it’s my second most visited post ever (link here) so won’t repeat myself, but Freddie was on especially fine form that day and owned the stage, encouraging the crowd to sing along in unison. His sustained “Aaaaaay-o” during the a cappella section came to be known as the note heard round the world. The last time I wrote about their set on Live Aid day I shared Radio Gaga, but having watched them again this week, the song they finished with was We Are The Champions which was almost as perfect. They certainly were champions that day.
It’s obvious watching this footage that Queen’s set took place just as the sun had gone down, but it wasn’t yet dark. This is my favourite time of the day for any outdoor event as there’s a certain magic about it – No harsh sunlight but not a total absence of light either. In Scotland it’s called The Gloaming and a very special time of the day. Up in Aberdeen it wouldn’t be gloaming for a while yet, so we sat tight and carried on watching the big screen.
Next up was David Bowie, looking very dapper in a powder blue suit and pointy black patent shoes. Another great performance and quoted as being “his last triumph of the 1980s”. He was followed by The Who who hadn’t played together for three years. No powder blue suit for Roger Daltrey, oh no indeed. As ever he had his shirt open showing off his hairless, suntanned torso. Roger must be doing something right in terms of looking after himself, as at the grand old age of 76 he still looks pretty good today, and I imagine the bare-chested look is something he still favours.
But this was Saturday night in the big city and one by one people were drifting off. The hostelry of choice for 20-somethings in 1985 was the Dutch Mill on Queen’s Road, so leaving the concert behind for a while, my flatmate and I headed in that direction. In those pre-mobile phone days, it was highly likely you would bump into most of your friends on a weekend evening, but when we got there on the evening of the 13th July, it was dead, as everyone was at home watching Live Aid. We had a quick drink then walked the short distance back to our flat in the city centre.
Once home we settled back into our large beige and brown sofa (it was the ’80s) and turned on our Radio Rentals telly. I can’t be sure, and I would be lying if I said I was, but the artist following on from The Who was Elton John so if we did get back in time for his set that’s who we would have watched next. Having viewed the boxset this week, Elton had the longest time on stage of anyone and he performed a couple of duets, first with his old mucker Kiki Dee, and then joy of joys, with the person I have written about most around here, George Michael.
I have mentioned the making of the Band Aidsingle before, and how the Wham! boys George and Andrew weren’t treated with much respect that day by the other artists, being proponents at the time of feel-good pop tunes. But here we were just six months on and Elton John saw fit to ask George to sing Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me with him. He said he was ‘a great admirer of his musical talent’ when introducing him, and I have to say he gives an impeccable performance here. Also, unlike many others that day, he was dressed simply in jeans, white T-shirt and black leather jacket which is kind of timeless (we’ll ignore the fact it was dark and he’s wearing shades). His Live Aid appearance has stood the test of time and he went on to great things whereas those who had laughed at him are perhaps long forgotten.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by George Michael and Elton John:
The Wembley concert finished off with a set by Paul McCartney who had been persuaded out of retirement for the event. Sadly he was the only artist on the night to experience microphone failure, so the audience missed out totally on one of his songs. It was fixed quite quickly but typical it had to happen to him. Once finished, he and Bowie raised Bob Geldof up on their shoulders, and then, along with the rest of the performers from the day (and a few others it seems) they launched into a version of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, the charity single that started the whole thing off. The first two lines were a bit ropey, sung by Bowie and Bob, but then they wisely handed the mic over to a safe pair of hands in the form of George Michael, who very confidently took over.
I think we spent a good few hours in front of the telly that night as we then watched the rest of the Philadelphia Live Aid concert, which would go on for a fair while yet due to time differences. The programmers also revisited ‘the best bits’ of the day, so by the time I went to bed in the early hours, I’d pretty much seen everything.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m not going to get into the whole criticisms and controversy aspect of Live Aid. All the money may not have got to the right places, at the right time, but around 1.9 billion people watched the concerts that day and over £150 million was raised. There is no denying, the publicity generated meant that western governments could no longer ignore humanitarian crises. Through rock ‘n’ roll, the common language of the planet, an issue that was not hitherto on the political agenda, became so.
As for this post, it was for my own benefit really, as I have never documented My Live Aid Day and always wanted to. The flatmate I spent it with FaceTimed me the other day and is coming up to visit next month (as long as that pesky virus is kept under control) and the workmate with the broken heart soon got over it, and we still keep in touch via Christmas cards. The boyfriend of the time chose to spend that summer travelling round France with a work colleague, so missed out on Live Aid totally. Needless to say he soon became the ex-boyfriend upon his return, and we are definitely no longer in touch.
How did you spend your Live Aid day? I have met a few people over the years who were actually at Wembley for the concert and I love hearing their stories. If you have any, I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time…
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me Lyrics (Song by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
I can’t light no more of your darkness All my pictures seem to fade to black and white I’m growing tired and time stands still before me Frozen here on the ladder of my life
It’s much too late to save myself from falling I took a chance and changed your way of life But you misread my meaning when i met you Closed the door and left me blinded by the light
Don’t let the sun go down on me Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
I can’t find the right romantic line But see me once and see the way feel Don’t discard me just because you think I mean you harm But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal
Oh, don’t let the sun go down on me Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Don’t let the sun go down on me Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I that see, yeah I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free baby, oh Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Well, look what I found in my Christmas Stocking. Not strictly in the stocking as not the best shape to fit, and, not strictly a surprise present from the big man in the red suit (as I had bought it for myself), but a full two years on from his death, I still have a yearning to collect more George Michael goodies. When I saw this glossy mag in our local branch of WH Smith last week, I just knew it had to be mine, all mine…. .
Christmas Day for us this year was very chilled, and the first of a new regime where we have none of the older generation around any more to join us. A bit strange, but meant there was none of that manic preparation that goes into hosting a formal Christmas lunch complete with all the traditional accompaniments, accoutrements and accessories. A visit to the care home took place in the morning to exchange presents with my mum (DD had ordered a very special bear for her that plays a Jim Reeves song), followed by a mid-day bacon sandwich and the opening of our own presents. Then there was a Facetime call to DD’s boyfriend at the other end of the country, and a virtualfirst meeting between the two sets of parents (landmark moment). Once we’d had an afternoon walk along the river, followed by a bit of telly, I leisurely prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings which we simply ate in our new kitchen this year – Yes, all very chilled indeed.
When it got to evening, George of course beckoned, and by the time I went to bed I think I’d read right to the end of the magazine. Just in case I’d missed anything, I re-read it again from cover to cover on Boxing Day, and although it contained nothing particularly new that I didn’t already know, a few lines jumped out at me, and I took notes: George, as we all know, was one of the key vocalists on the 1984 Band Aid charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas?, however on the day of the recording he said he felt really uncomfortable, as Wham! were treated as a bit of a joke by their peers, with (careless?) whispers and in-jokes being made at their expense. By this time Wham! had left their baby-biker image behind, and now sported blond highlights, gold hoop earrings and Day-Glo shorts, but George found it hard to believe people couldn’t see past the image and appreciate the music they were making. He was still only 20, but was writing, producing and arranging these records that jumped out of the radio. If that is true, shame on you fellow Band Aid participants. (Also, did you know that having released Last Christmas shortly before the Band Aid single, they donated all the royalties to the Ethiopia Appeal?)
Something else I learnt from the magazine, was that Wham! would never have come about if not for Andrew Ridgeley, who was the driving force behind forming a band. George was the geeky songwriter, and a career in music was very much frowned upon by his strict father, who wanted him to join the family business. The Wham! image therefore belonged to Andrew, who was outgoing, sociable and loved going out dancing with girls. George lived vicariously through Andrew, but after being impressed by the confidence exuded by the character Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, he decided to lose weight, acquire some contact lenses and threw himself into the local disco scene. Without Andrew Ridgeley there would have been no George Michael.
During his career George had to face hostility from artists who attacked him for his appropriation of black music. He fought back, and ended up joining forces at various stages of his career with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige and Whitney Houston, who held him in high regard. His earliest musical influences however had come from artists such as Stevie Wonder and The Isley Brothers. In fact one of my favourite Wham! songs is If You Were There, which was not for once penned by George, but was an Isley Brothers cover included on their second album “Make It Big”.
If You Were There by Wham!:
If You Were There was also the title of the 1997 Wham! “Best Of” album, which of course I had to buy. DD was a mere toddler back then, but I remember well dancing around the living room with her whilst listening to it, recreating the moves. We were now nearly 15 years on, but yes, I had been there and yes, I did know… . If You Were There was also the title of the 1997 Wham! “Best Of” album, which of course I had to buy. DD was a mere toddler back then, but I remember well dancing around the living room with her whilst listening to it, recreating the moves. We were now nearly 15 years on, but yes, I had been there and yes, I did know… .
So, “What’s It All About?” – Whenever I think I’ve written my last George Michael post, something else comes along, and prompts another one. In this case it was the magazine I bought myself as a treat for Christmas (other gifts did appear in my stocking by the way).
I am often embarrassed by some of the songs I share around here, as they are unashamedly of the pop persuasion, but time and time again I have been vindicated (the Bee Gees, the Carpenters et al). George Michael himself proudly championed great pop music as true art. Here is a quote from him:
“If you listen to a Supremes or a Beatles record, which was made in the days when pop was accepted as an art of sorts, how can you not realise that the elation of a good pop record is an art form? Somewhere along the way, pop lost all its respect. And I think I kind of stubbornly stick up for all of that.”
I don’t think I’ll be back again until the New Year – Can it really be almost 2019, the last year of this decade we didn’t know what to call. Is it “The Teens”? – Not sure. Whatever it’s called, hope your Hogmanay celebrations go well. For one night at least, we can forget all the political shenanigans that surround us at the moment, and just enjoy ourselves. The first few months of 2019 will be interesting, that’s for sure!
Until next time….
If You Were There Lyrics (Song by The Isley Brothers)
You’re the one that makes my day a dream come true They might just be the last Yet and still you wonder if I think of you You ought to see how the other girls behave when you’re not around And only then you would know that it’s on your finger I’m wound
I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know That I care
There’s no need for you not to have faith in me ‘Cos it’s by your side girl that I long to be Yes there are times with my friends when I don’t know have to much to say What you don’t know is with you could never act that way
I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know That I care
I care for you baby, I Swear that I care There’s no need for you Not to have faith in me ‘Cos it’s by your side girl That I long to be Yes there are times with my friends when I don’t know have to much to say uh, uh What you don’t know is with you could never act that way
I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know I you were there you’d know That I care
I care for you , I Swear that I care for you Baby I do Have faith in me I care for you baby
Although not much was made of the circumstances that surrounded George’s death in the magazine, after reading the single page that documented the last four years of his life, it appears a premature death was almost inevitable. He dodged a bullet in 2012, after becoming seriously ill in Vienna during the Symphonica tour, but he was also unwell in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Best to remember him in his prime – How he would have wanted it, I’m sure.
On the home straight now, so looks as if I’m going to achieve my goal of writing seven posts in seven days. Today’s post should almost write itself, so here goes….
Last night I went to our local theatre. As a birthday surprise, a kind friend had bought me a ticket for the stage show Fastlove, which has the tagline A Tribute To George Michael. At first I was a tad worried – Although the friend knows I write a blog that is (tenuously at times) linked to the world of music, they have respected my wishes not to share it with them. Writing for complete strangers (who in many cases have become virtual friends I have to say) seems to be a lot easier than writing for people you know. The upshot is that she wouldn’t have known just how upset I was when I heard of George’s death on Christmas Day 2016, and she wouldn’t have known just how many Open Letters I have written to him since – I now have a whole George Michael category on my sidebar (link here) and there seems to be no sign of me ever running out of material for new posts. This one is a case in point.
But back to the show – I shouldn’t have worried. Although I had thought I would never want to hear anyone perform George’s songs except George, to my great surprise I really enjoyed it. It was a highly professional production having started off in London’s West End. They took great pains to make sure, we the audience, realised this was not “A Tribute Act”, but in fact “A Tribute” – to George. The word tribute was never actually mentioned, but instead it was called an opportunity for us all to honour George’s memory, and I think we pretty much achieved that.
The chap who played George was excellent, and dare I say it, as good a singer as George himself. We sometimes forget that for every excellent singer out there, only a tiny proportion ever make it big and become recording stars. Here was someone who was a gifted singer but had gone down a different path. Also it is easy to look like solo artist George, as post-Faith (the album), his uniform was usually black trousers, black T-shirt and a smart jacket. Add to that a pair of dark glasses, the distinctive haircut, a neatly trimmed beard and you’re pretty much there.
As for the songs, all the usual suspects were performed (accompanied by a fine band I might add which included a female sax player – her solo at the start ofCareless Whisper was a definite crowd-pleaser). We were only a few songs in however when something occurred to me – An awful lot of George’s songs start with the letter F, and if they don’t start with the letter F, they start with the letter A. Obviously the show had kicked off with Fastlove but then we were treated to Father Figure, Faith, Freedom! ’90, Flawless and (Too) Funky. In the second half we had the Wham! hit Freedom but then the A songs started to made their presence felt and we had A Different Corner,As and Amazing. When I got home I decided that if George had written his song lyrics using a qwerty keyboard he must have been left-handed, as when your fingers rest on the home keys, the easiest ones to press are F (forefinger) and A (pinky). One letter and inspiration struck – He was off. (But then again maybe I’ve worked in offices for too long and am overthinking it!)
So, what should the featured song for this post be? Since many mentioned above have appeared in previous posts, and are already listed on my Featured Songs page, it should be one of the other F’s – Freedom! ’90 was one of the more up-tempo songs of the evening, so that one it shall be. I see that back in 1990 it was originally released as Freedom! but that probably caused confusion with the Wham! hit Freedom (argh so many exclamation marks!!), so it now seems to have had the year added as a suffix.
Freedom! ’90 by George Michael:
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed last night’s show and had it not been for the ticket bought for me as a gift, I probably wouldn’t have risked it, but a good night was definitely had by all 800 ladies “of a certain age” in the audience. A few of them were up on their feet early on, and I was sorely tempted myself, but always feel bad for the people sitting behind who will then get a rubbish view – By the end of the night however we were all up on our feet, and although sadly it wasn’t George himself, someone who looked awfully like him closed the show, by taking us all to The Edge Of Heaven!
Until next time….
Freedom ’90 Lyrics (Song by George Michael)
I won’t let you down I will not give you up Gotta have some faith in the sound It’s the one good thing that I’ve got I won’t let you down So please don’t give me up ‘Cause I would really, really love to stick around, oh yeah
Heaven knows I was just a young boy Didn’t know what I wanted to be I was every little hungry schoolgirl’s pride and joy And I guess it was enough for me To win the race? A prettier face! Brand new clothes and a big fat place On your rock and roll TV But today the way I play the game is not the same No way Think I’m gonna get myself happy
I think there’s something you should know I think it’s time I told you so There’s something deep inside of me There’s someone else I’ve got to be Take back your picture in a frame Take back your singing in the rain I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man
All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don’t belong to you And you don’t belong to me yea yea Freedom Freedom Freedom You’ve gotta give for what you take Freedom Freedom Freedom You’ve gotta give for what you take
Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy What a kick just a buddy and me We had every big shot good-time band on the run boy We were living in a fantasy We won the race Got out of the place I went back home got a brand new face For the boys on MTV But today the way I play the game has got to change Oh yeah Now I’m gonna get myself happy
I think there’s something you should know I think it’s time I stopped the show There’s something deep inside of me There’s someone I forgot to be Take back your picture in a frame Don’t think that I’ll be back again I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man
All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don’t belong to you And you don’t belong to me, yea yea Freedom Freedom Freedom You’ve gotta give for what you take Freedom Freedom Freedom You’ve gotta give for what you take
Well it looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell When I knew which side my bread was buttered I took the knife as well Posing for another picture Everybody’s got to sell But when you shake your ass They notice fast And some mistakes were built to last
That’s what you get That’s what you get That’s what you get I say that’s what you get That’s what you get for changing your mind That’s what you get for changing your mind
Like many others my of my generation, I seem to have found myself in the position of becoming the squeezed filling in a sandwich. The family sandwich that is, with elderly parents who need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your time) and offspring who also need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your cash). At no point in the year is this more apparent than at Christmastime.
For the ladies in my mum’s retirement complex, their normal routine is thrown out of kilter which causes much confusion and distress. Combine that with trying to preserve the traditions of Christmas like writing cards to old friends, and the distress is compounded. We all pride ourselves around here on our knowledge of music and can hark back to what we were listening to up to 50 years ago. Imagine pouring over your Christmas card list only to find that you can’t remember the last name of life-long friends, and in many cases, can’t even remember who they are. I’m not sure what the year ahead will bring but I do know that like many other ladies of her age, my mum loved listening to a bit of GentlemanJim Reeves, so this one’s for her – The highly sentimental (but unapologetically so) An Old Christmas Card.
James Travis Reeves hasn’t appeared on these pages before but his “Twelve Songs of Christmas” album was a staple in my parent’s house at this time of year. The Texan country and popular music singer became well known as a practitioner of the Nashville sound (a mixture of older country-style music with elements of popular music) and his songs continued to chart for years after his death. Like so many others of his generation, poor Jim died in a plane crash back in 1964 at the very young age of 40.
But before things get too maudlin around here, I will move onto the other half of the sandwich, darling daughter. She moved home in the summer of 2016 for “around two months” but through no fault of her own is still with us. Having gone down the “artsy” route after school (I blame Mr WIAA’s side of the family), finding herself in a well-paid job by the age of 22 was always going to be hard and despite working full-time in a sometimes very stressful work environment, being able to cover the rent and bills for a flat is tricky at best. The ignominy therefore of living with your parents is still better than poverty it seems thus the outpouring of cash for a new laptop which will of course only be used for the purposes of further study and the completion of application forms.
It has been mentioned before (link here) that DD’s first single was one also much appreciated by the childlike Kayleigh Kitson from Peter Kay’sCar Share – Yes it was that wonderful pop song included in the “Now 48” album called Never Had A Dream Come True. It was used for one of the dream sequences featuring Peter’s character John, Kayleigh, and a monster truck! On the B-side of that millennium single however was this song, Perfect Christmas, which always takes me right back to those days when the grandparents were all still hale and hearty and the only item required for Santa’s sack was a large shiny toy, with no electronics of any kind putting in an appearance. Happy days indeed so this one’s for her.
Perfect Christmas by S Club 7:
S Club 7 were of course a manufactured pop act put together by ex-Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and they starred in four really successful kids’ sitcoms. They recorded some very pleasant pop records and I’m not even very sure why (maybe Kayleigh Kitson could help me with that one), but this “B-side” still ranks up there amongst my favourite Christmas songs ever.
So, “What’s It All About?” – For the second year in a row all this looking back nostalgically at the tracks of my years is making me maudlin. I did snap out of it last year before the big day however and I anticipate the same thing will happen this year. In any case, although I am listening to these songs with fond memories, as often happens they are probably selective ones – No doubt I was very unhappy listening to Jim Reeves as a 17-year-old in the year of punk, 1977. Also, although I had S Club 7 to serenade me back in the year 2000, having 10 people descend for Christmas dinner was no doubt a tad stressful.
But before I finish, unlike last year when I tried to be “cool” with my festive music choices, I am now obviously secure enough to share all manner of “uncool” material. Most of us will know that we lost George Michael on Christmas day last year which for me was a massive shock and many posts have been written about him here since. To my eternal shame I chose not to feature his Wham! triumph Last Christmas back then for fear of it being uncool to do so. As the clip epitomises my ever so slightly hedonistic mid-eighties lifestyle however, I have no compunction about doing so this year. I give you George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirley having what seems to be a fantastic time in their winter hideaway – If that pesky heart just hadn’t been “given away the very next day”, all would have been perfect!
Last Christmas by Wham!
For those who celebrate it, Have a Very Merry Christmas from all of us who feature here at WIAA Towers (myself, Mr WIAA, DD and my little mum). See you on the other side, once it’s all over for another year. xxx
Last Christmas Lyrics (Song by George Michael)
Last Christmas I gave you my heart But the very next day you gave it away. This year To save me from tears I’ll give it to someone special.
Once bitten and twice shy I keep my distance But you still catch my eye. Tell me, baby, Do you recognize me? Well, It’s been a year, It doesn’t surprise me (Merry Christmas)
I wrapped it up and sent it With a note saying, “I love you,” I meant it Now I know what a fool I’ve been. But if you kissed me now I know you’d fool me again.
Oh, oh, baby.
A crowded room, Friends with tired eyes. I’m hiding from you And your soul of ice. My god I thought you were someone to rely on. Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on.
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart. A man under cover but you tore me apart, ooh-hoo. Now I’ve found a real love, you’ll never fool me again.
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you my heart) A man under cover but you tore him apart Maybe next year I’ll give it to someone I’ll give it to someone special.
Just when I thought I had nothing else to say to you, and that I would finally have to accept you are gone, up you pop on our television screens with a brand new documentary called Freedom. All about your life and career, and with contributions from many of those who were your friends and musical collaborators, it was seemingly in the process of being completed just before you died. It was even directed by you, so very much your baby. You really had no idea how ill you were at that time did you? What the heck were those around you doing for goodness sake – Not looking after your health it seems. To be fair you were an adult and should have taken responsibility for that yourself but not always easy I imagine for someone in your position who had already experienced so many ups and downs in life.
But I digress, the documentary called Freedom was a wonderful gift for those of us who would always want to eke out a little more new and original George Michael goodness before all that is left is the back catalogue and archived footage. I have already written to you about my memories of the Wham! and solo years but here we had all of it, and narrated by none other than your good self. The voice was a bit deeper and more gravelly than I remember, but it was most definitely you, although sadly there had to be a lookalike actor sitting there in your Highgate house supposedly typing out the dialogue for the film. We always knew how self-conscious you were about your looks and it seems you were not prepared to appear in the 2016 film as you were at the time – Sad but understandable.
One of the wonderful things about the film was that along with the really big hits from the “Faith” and “Listen Without Prejudice Vol I” eras, some of the less commercially successful songs made an appearance and this one, Kissing a Fool, has really stayed with me over the last week. Apparently you recorded the vocals for this beautiful, jazzy ballad in one take – It all sounds sublime and despite only making it to No. 18 in the UK Singles Chart, the song remains a firm favourite with fans and I can totally understand why.
Kissing a Fool by George Michael:
But what did I learn about you that hasn’t been covered in my previous letters? First of all I had no idea just how big you were in America once you went solo and released the album “Faith”. The marketing machine went into overdrive and you were on the cover of every magazine, you topped the Billboard chart with 5 of the singles released from the album and won numerous awards, including those in the R&B/Soul category. It was inevitable that there would be a backlash and for fear of burnout you had to walk away from it all for a while.
When you did come back with the very appropriately titled “Listen Without Prejudice Vol I”, you were making a statement – “Don’t pigeon-hole me, just take these songs as they come”. As James Corden said in the film however, there are some people in life who seem to have a layer or two of skin missing and appear to bruise more easily than the rest of us. You were one of them and when you sang the songs from this album for us, the pain you felt was palpable. All of this was written and recorded when you were still aged only 27 – An old head on young shoulders it seems.
When I wrote previously about that stunning performance you gave at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert I was just taking it at face value. Now however I understand how you were able to lift that performance to a whole new level – Having finally found love with Anselmo, you had learnt that he had also been diagnosed as HIV positive. He was in the crowd that night and although your fans didn’t even know about your sexuality at that time (well we did, but not officially), and he was unknown to us, you were singing the song for him and your heart was breaking for what was to come. The anger you felt at the unfairness of the situation was taken out on the record company from which you desperately wanted a divorce. A landmark case indeed but one which you lost in the end – As one of the executives said however, you may have lost the battle but you won the war as it was a given that you wouldn’t record anything for them again, so like with a top footballer you went on the transfer market and were snapped up by Virgin.
With the album “Older” you were able to both heal and recover from the grief you felt at the loss of Anselmo, but, then your mother got ill and died soon after so for much of the early ’90s it seems you were suffering from something much deeper than depression, a permanent fear of bereavement. By the second half of that decade you had started to come out the other side and the MTV Unplugged concert in 1996 was a fantastic example of you at your very best. You had the voice of an angel and had the ability to share raw emotion via your lyrics. A gift that possibly comes along once in a generation.
But I don’t want to say my final farewell to you George on a sad note. First of all, I noticed that the song used for the opening titles of your documentary was the Adele version of Fastlove performed at this year’s Grammys. Also the song used for the closing credits was the one jointly performed by Chris Martin and your good self (on a big screen) at the Brits. These were obviously added after your death and although I was a bit (quite a bit actually) disparaging about both of them earlier in the year, the passage of time must have made me warm to them as I thought they were both perfect for this film which turned out to be an unintended obituary. Secondly, I think James Corden has a lot to thank you for as your willingness to always step up to the plate when it came to making a bit of a fool of yourself in comedy sketches for charity, has in turn led to a new art form – Carpool Karaoke! I did love this when it first aired and never tire of watching it.
So, yet again I prepare to sign off for the last time – No more letters but before I go I just want to quote what you said during an earlier interview, included right at the end of the documentary. When asked what you would like to be remembered for, you said that you… “would like to be remembered for your songs and for your integrity, but that was very unlikely, so it was probably all a waste of effort”. I think you were just being modest there, as I expect we all would be if faced with a similar question, but of course in reality you will always be remembered – For the songs, your integrity, your performances, your generosity and yes, for those comedy sketches.
Farewell then George and thank you for that bonus gift you gave us last week in the form of your wonderful documentary. It was much appreciated.
Until next time….
Kissing a Fool Lyrics (Song by George Michael)
You are far When I could have been your star You listened to people Who scared you to death, and from my heart Strange that you were strong enough To even make a start But you’ll never find Peace of mind, ‘Til you listen to your heart
People You can never change the way they feel Better let them do just what they will For they will If you let them Steal your heart from you People Will always make a lover feel a fool But you knew I loved you We could have shown them all We should have seen love through
Fooled me with the tears in your eyes Covered me with kisses and lies So goodbye But please don’t take my heart
You are far I’m never gonna be your star I’ll pick up the pieces And mend my heart Maybe I’ll be strong enough I don’t know where to start But I’ll never find Peace of mind While I listen to my heart
People You can never change the way they feel Better let them do just what they will, For they will If you let them Steal your heart
And people Will always make a lover feel a fool But you knew I loved you We could have shown them all
But remember this Every other kiss That you ever give Long as we both live When you need the hand of another man One you really can surrender with I will wait for you Like I always do There’s something there That can’t compare with any other
You are far When I could have been your star You listened to people Who scared you to death, and from my heart Strange that I was wrong enough To think you’d love me too I guess you were kissing a fool You must have been kissing a fool
As of the 20th October, the reissued “Listen Without Prejudice / MTV Unplugged” Double CD is available everywhere. A worthy addition to any fan’s collection.
Last time I told the story of how it came about that my very first vinyl album was an Elvis one. Believe it or not my first CD was an Elvis one too (and I didn’t even have a CD player yet!). We had been slow to move from vinyl and cassette tape to digital mediums as I just couldn’t get my head round the concept of having to replace nearly 30 years’ worth of music, but the writing was on the wall, so when I decided to buy the new Elvis compilation album “Always On My Mind” in 1997, it had to be in CD format. As new parents money was tight, so the cutting-edge CD player had to wait until later in the year to be purchased. In the meantime however, I played it liberally on our home computer until the ridiculously large VDU (remember those) decided to blow up after over-heating one sunny afternoon. Hard to believe in Scotland I know, but we had stupidly placed it right in front of a single-glazed window.
My collection of Elvis memorabilia
Alway On My Mind from 1997
The anniversary of Elvis’ death sort of crept up on me this week and the post that I published on the actual day itself was a very hastily put together affair. Since then however I have had a chance to read the many other posts written by my fellow bloggers, and after having watched some great video clips, listened to many of his wonderful songs and generally had a good wallow through the memorabilia in my “Elvis Box” (it’s a thing), my love for the man and his music has returned with a vengeance.
Elvis Presley recorded his version of Always On My Mind a few weeks after his final separation from Priscilla. Although Elvis didn’t actually write any of his songs, he might as well have done, for they always seemed to be just so darned personal. Elvis was not the best of letter-writers and Priscilla used to say that they communicated through music instead, as he regularly sent her “meaningful” records after returning home from Germany. Always On My Mind was most definitely for Priscilla which makes it all the more heart-breaking. I don’t really think Elvis ever thought she would leave, but one little lady (albeit with sometimes very big hair) versus the might of the Memphis Mafia, was never going to work out in the long run.
And this is where I’m reminded of the film Blue Hawaii which has become a bit of a tradition in our house as a Boxing Day pick-me-up. Living in Scotland is a cold, damp and dreich affair over the winter months so what could be better than to curl up on the sofa with some slices of fresh pineapple (yes really) and watch Elvis rock-a-hula his way across the sands of Waikiki Beach. I am reminded of the film because of this song, Almost Always True. No, I think it’s a given that Elvis was not “always true” but he was a family man at heart so when Priscilla left, that marked the beginning of the end for him.
Funnily enough, well actually not funny at all as it turns out, my Boxing Day tradition of watching Blue Hawaii did not take place last year as that was the day we found out that George Michael had passed away. I spent most of the day surfing the net and writing the first of my tribute posts. A couple of days later however, the film Viva Las Vegas popped up on the television schedules and whilst watching the antics of Elvis and Ann-Margret (again, their on-screen chemistry suggested he was almost always true), it occurred to me that both men had similarly long careers but both came to a similarly premature, and undignified end.
So, no little paragraph this time with my musings on the “meaning of life”, as just a bit too sad. Instead a photomontage of two of my musical heroes, both taken from us far too soon. I rest my case. RIP Elvis, RIP George.
Always On My Mind Lyrics (Song by Johnny Christopher/Mark James/Wayne Carson)
Maybe I didn’t love you Quite as often as I could have Maybe I didn’t treat you Quite as good as I should have If I made you feel second best Girl I’m sorry I was blind But you were always on my mind You were always on my mind
Maybe I didn’t hold you All those lonely, lonely times I guess I never told you That I am so happy that you’re mine If I made you feel second best Girl I’m sorry I was blind But you were always on my mind You were always on my mind
Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died Give me, give me one more chance To keep you satisfied I’ll keep you satisfied Little things I should have said and done I just never took the time But you were always on my mind You were always on my mind You were always on my mind You were always on my mind
Some of you who visit this place from time to time (thank you for that by the way) will know that Mr WIAA had recently entered a piece into a sculpture competition and that it had inspired me to write about a specific song (Alice, Jefferson Airplane and White Rabbit). The awards ceremony took place in London on Monday evening and I’m pleased to say that not only did he win a Bronze Award for the sculpture (up against stiff competition) but he also won a Gold Award for his entry in the 2D category. I also think I mentioned in my last post that there was no monetary award, it was just for the prestige of being the best in your field – Turns out I was wrong and the gold award winners do indeed get a cash prize! We left the venue with a spring in our step and headed back to the hotel for some nice food and wine.
So, we’d spent the whole of day one of our London Trip simply traveling down from the far North of Scotland, navigating our way to the hotel and attending the awards ceremony. On day two we would hopefully have time for a few of the things tourists do in London before it was time to head back home. Because the theme of the competition entry was the marrying up of sculpture with literature, a trip to the British Library was on the cards, mainly because they have the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland housed there. After dropping off our cases at left luggage and acquiring our blue Oyster Cards (always think of the band Blue Oyster Cult whenever I get one of those but you probably have to be of a certain age to get that joke), we were free to navigate London via its venerable Underground.
I did spot however that we were starting off on the Victoria Line and which station was only four stops away? It was Brixton, south of the river, and birthplace of Mr David Bowie. I knew there was a mural there of David in his Ziggy Stardust guise which people went to visit and treated as a place to leave tributes. We had the time so why not? It turned out to be incredibly easy to find as the mural is right on the street opposite the exit to the station. It wasn’t very big and has now been covered with a perspex sheet to protect both it, and the messages left by fans, but considering my very first blog post was about the death of David Bowie I thought it was important to have seen it. (Excuse the glare from the perspex but unavoidable and a short film added right at the bottom of this post.)
Starman by David Bowie:
It isn’t big and overwhelming but I did enjoy visiting the Starman’s mural in Brixton – People like to have a shrine, a focal point, so that they can leave messages, floral tributes and gifts and this is just one of those places. It got me thinking however, here we were in Brixton but if we travelled back up the line to Highgate we could see all the messages and floral tributes left for George Michael. In view of the fact I have spent a lot of time recently writing about the sadness I have felt over the loss of George, this seemed the right thing to do. And so, at around lunchtime on Tuesday we found his very house and outside there is a little park which has become a bit of a shrine to him.
Again, just so many messages left by fans and here I was doing something I had never contemplated doing before, stalking a big star from the world of music but sadly just a couple of months too late. There was a really great looking little pub across the street from his house so we went in and had a lovely lunch. It wasn’t lost on me that he was bound to have popped in for a pint at some point but I was too cool to ask the staff if that was actually the case. I just sat there and imagined the scene of myself, George and Mr WIAA having a drink, some food and a chat, trying to put the world to rights.
So, “What’s It All About?” – It seems as humans that we like to be able to visit a specific place to remember our sadly departed. Don’t want to be morbid but I do actually want a headstone when the time comes as I do want my family to have a place they can visit. From what I saw this week the fans of David Bowie and George Michael also wanted a place to visit and I am glad that I was able to persuade my gold award-winning husband (its ok he won’t be allowed to get big-headed) to come along with me on my pilgrimage. For the record we did also manage to visit the British Library and along with Alice, the diaries of Sir Walter Raleigh and the Magna Carta, we also saw some scribbles by John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles, so again very relevant for the blog.
All back to normal now however and as we missed Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday because of our trip, darling daughter treated us to some tonight. I have already shared David Bowie’s Starman from 1972 but I will leave you with a live version of George singing Star People ’97, funnily enough from 1997 – Enough now, time to move on.
Star People ’97 by George Michael:
Star People Lyrics (Song by George Michael)
Counting your money till you soul turns green
Counting the cost of your desire to be seen
I do not count myself among you I may be living in a dream It’s just seem to many of you Can’t help but hope There’s a difference between, you and me
You’re a star (I’m talking to you) You’re a star
Maybe your mama gave you up boy (It’s the same old same old) Maybe your daddy didn’t love you enough girl
Star people Never forget your secret safe with me Just look at all wonderful people Trying to forget they had to pay for what you see
It’s a dream With a nightmare stuck in the middle But where would you be Without all of that attention You’d die I’d die We’d die wouldn’t we (Well wouldn’t we) Big, big star Should go far
Talk about your mother Talk about your father Talk about the people Who have made you what you are Talk about your teacher The bully boy who beat you Talk about the people who have paid For that new sports car
Did you get off on a bad foot, baby Do you have a little tale to tell Is that why you’re a star? Is that what makes a star?
Nothing comes for nothing, baby That fame and fortune’s heaven sent And who gives a fuck about your problems, darling When you can pay the rent How much is enough?
Just in case anyone from outside the UK unlikely to ever see the mural in Brixton wants a closer look, here is a short film – a bit wobbly but a few good close-ups!