This year we lost many legendary figures: Carrie Fisher / Princess Leia (May the Force be With Her!), Pete Burns, Prince (Nothing Compares to Him!), David Bowie, Spock, and Juan Gabriel, who was the most beloved, prolific, and talented songwriter, singer and composer in Latin America.
We also lost George Michael’s silky voice, which beautifully caressed our souls in the jazzy Kissing a Fool, the erotic nuances of Father Figure, and the melancholy of Careless Whisper. Michael Buble has done a cover of Kissing a Fool, but–while he’s quite talented–his voice does not get even close to the original. He also opened up his soul in his art when he dedicated Jesus to a Child to his lover, who died from AIDS-related complications, and was never scared to open up about the vulnerabilities, apprehensions, and fears that gay men experience when seeking more than sex–as he did in One More Try.
But to me, as an Epicurean, and to millions more, George Michael is more than a pop phenomenon of the 80’s and 90’s. The Guardian most clearly celebrated his legacy as an icon of hedonism in these two pieces, which argue that he was a defiant gay icon who must not be sanitized and that his songs were more than simple tales of lust and longing. In the deeply homophobic and hypocritical Reagan / Thatcher era, he rescued the carnal, the sexual, and reminded us that sexuality is entirely normal, natural, and human. In his song Outside, which the Guardian’s Owen Jones described as “the biggest fuck you in musical history” against societal hypocrisy and prudishness, he sings:
“There’s nothing here but flesh and bone.”
Very few pop culture icons have done so much to fight the invisibility of gays and to redeem the flesh when so much of our culture is dedicated to blaspheming the body, the libido, the enjoyment of pleasure, and the other things that make life worth living. Thank you, George Michael, for reminding us to be authentic and to live as long as we’re alive. I will miss you and will always enjoy your celebrated musical legacy.