Friday, August 25, 2006

Precious Box

Song: Precious Box
Artist: George Michael
Album: Patience

After listening to Mr. Timberlake for the majority of yesterday I got thinking about Mr. George Michael, got thinking about his current problems, and also about how criminally overlooked his last full album, "Patience" was. The album is now two years old, came out in 2004 and it had been a full eight years since he had released an album full of new material, 1998's "Older."

George has had a pretty interesting pop career, from co-fronting Wham!, to the highs of going solo (1987's "Faith,")and now his in and out of the tabloids public mess thing. Poor George. I am actually a pretty big fan of George's music, was huge into "Faith" back in '87 (and actually played that cassette so much I had to buy another copy)followed him through his solo stuff and have been a huge supporter of his last record. George, in a way, is the gay-pop version of Courtney Love... kind of a mess, underrated as a songwriter, but absolutely willing to live their private life, and all their issues right in front of the public, as a way to connect with an audience that is as much of a mess as they are. I am also a huge Courtney fan, despite all these public shenanigans, because in the end I think she is a great songwriter. In her case, the public doesn't really like to see outspoken woman get much credit for anything so she is constantly accused of getting male songwriters to help her out or, more hatefully, flat out accuse her of taking credit for someone else's writing. (Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan.) I'll interject briefly to just say that it is impossible to know how much of "Live Through This" was written or helped by Kurt, but it is an amazing album and one of the most important of the 80's. And if Billy Corgan is only responsible for "Celebrity Skin," why is it better than any Smashing Pumkins record to date? (Discuss.)

Anyhow, back to George. One of the major things that George has gone through is of course being caught soliciting sex from an undercover cop in a public bathroom which subsequently lead to his very public outing. I feel, from the little I know about George through interviews and press, that he is a very driven individual and through the 80's was not actually HIDING his sexuality, just not dealing with it. It's hard to grow up and be discovering yourself in your 20's and 30's in the public eye as well as trying to maintain a career as a pop star. And to be outed by being arrested soliciting sex in a BATHROOM is about as embarrassing thing as anyone can go through, let alone someone who has to see it splashed across the international press.

I must at this point briefly talk about this instance, because it's something that really bothers me and gets me pretty fired up. Think what you will about people who engage in public sex, but how on earth is it fair for a cop to go undercover, flirt and offer up sexual activity, and then to instead slap on the cuffs when someone recipricates. How on earth does two consenting adults getting involved in some sexual activity became something we need to create undercover stings for? Like our issues with prostitution and the ridiculous weight/burden we give to being an "erotic dancer," it is obvious that here in America, we are as sexually repressed as it comes. Can't we all relax a little?

I don't know how long it was, but it can be inferred that there was a period of a few years where George finally realized he was gay and that he had to live his life in the public as a lie... a straight man. I can't imagine what this must be like, with cameras following you at every step. And like every flesh and blood human on this planet, once George found out what he wanted and how to get it, I'm sure he WANTED it. Duh. And all of this confusion and early sexual fumblings were headline news. I can honestly say it is a wonder that we didn't lose this guy to full on drug abuse or worse, suicide. I can imagine Georgie pretty much felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and given that he's a gay man... look out drama!

Okay, enough about the personal lives of pop stars, let's talk about the music...

Take a look at this list of songs that George has written:

-Careless Whisper
-Kissing A Fool
-Father Figure
-One More Try
-I Want Your Sex
-Too Funky
-Cowboys And Angels
-Freedom 90
-Fast Love

The list does go on, but truthfully, he is a gifted talented guy. "Patience" is a great album that I highly recommend. It has a few too many ballads, but that is as much part of George's stock and trade as is upbeat dance songs. I almost highlighted "Cars & Trains" a great loungy-dance tune on the record but instead decided to go with the big gun. "Precious Box" is a very strange, melancholy piece of epic dance pop. It has a build that really takes you for the ride, and while I am not 100% sure of what he is talking about lyrically, it's obvious that this song is about emotional pain, both felt, overwhelming, and yet with a still solid grasp on hope. Like the majority of his songs, it's about human frailty, being confused about the world and people's motives, and yet still holding onto that hope... "don't you know that the moment will come."

George actually has a brand new single, "A Easier Affair" which sounds just like George and would easily fit onto "Patience." It's good, and I suggest you seek it out.

I worry about George a little, but in the end he has persevered through things I wouldn't wish on enemies. And while he might take everything a bit too much to heart, I hope that he will be able to look back on all of his accomplishments with pride, and free his songwriting from regret and the crippling effects of constant haters.

George, like you so eloquently said in "careless Whisper," "Guilty feet have got no rhythm." Live your life without worry and what people think of you, I think your already impressive songwriting will benefit from it.


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