Wednesday, February 01, 2017

George Michael

Hi everyone,

I'm slow in tackling Illustration Friday's drawing topics this year because I've been pondering my tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day. (Thanks again, 2016.) Technically, my tribute could relate to two recent topics, Tape and Sound, because most of my memories of George Michael involve dancing around my room to my Wham! (Fantastic and Make It Big) and Faith cassette tapes. I danced beyond my room when I upgraded to a Discman, which allowed me to tune into Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, wherever I wanted.

MTV introduced me to George Michael. He was pretty and had style. He made great videos, had a fantastic voice, and wrote amazing songs – a vast catalogue of pop perfection with thoughtful messages. While I haven't heard all of his latest work, I grew up listening to Wham! and George Michael's first two solo albums; all those songs are still among my favorites. George Michael was always there for me, offering through his music whatever my mood needed.

In mid-December, I attended the biennial Rainforest Fund charity concert in New York, which had a seasonal/holiday theme. When Sting broke into a cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas," I – and all the girls around me – gasped and started joyfully dancing and singing along in our seats. (George Michael has that effect on all of us!) I secretly hoped that George Michael would make a surprise appearance to finish the song himself. I wondered what he was doing now.  

After I heard the news, I spent the rest of my Christmas vacation reading more about his life. I was reminded of his bravery and humor in the face of life's challenges and whatever unnecessary details the tabloids published about them. I learned about his big-hearted generosity among friends, fans, and strangers alike. And, suddenly, I longed for that ever-present honesty in everything he did. What song should I listen to now, George Michael?

This drawing is a true story. (I've upgraded my Discman to an iPod so don't worry, George Michael, The Kitties and I are still dancing and singing along.) Here, we're listening to "Freedom '90", one of many songs that perfectly captures a moment of honesty and growth in George Michael's life, as he sheds his early pop star image and asks to be accepted for who he really is. We could all use some more of that.

Freedom '17
Freedom '17 (See and hear "Freedom '90" here 

I'll miss this guy – his thoughtfulness, talent, grace, and style. I'll miss him being unapologetically George Michael.

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