By Hans Ebert
It’s been said before and it’s been said many times this year: Life’s too short. And today, the day after Christmas, came the news that George Michael had his Last Christmas and decided to leave us at the age of 53, and join Prince, Bowie, Glenn Frey, Rick Parfitt from Status Quo, who left this world yesterday, and so many other musical heroes for so many of us to wherever it is that they’d meet up.
Yeah, life’s too short. There I was thinking only yesterday just how unforgiving and ungrateful even one’s own flesh and blood can be and wondering how these types of people could have once been part of my life. I had even started a song that opened with the lines, “You don’t take sides in a family/Family must never be the enemy”. What do I know? What does anyone know? Despite all that outward niceness are some truly hurtful people. But that’s the past, and no matter how disappointing and tough it is, there’s a need to delete them from your life. It makes those dark clouds hovering above disappear.
George Michael had a number of dark clouds hovering over him for many years. After the cheery music of Wham!, his solo career began with two of my favourite songs- “Careless Whisper”, and the very underrated “Different Corner”, a beautiful ballad that showcased his brilliant voice- a truly unique voice.
Despite a string of huge hits, the man was dogged by one controversy after another- the all-too frequent drug busts, the all-too-familiar comebacks that all-too-quickly became setbacks. And despite close friends closing rank and trying to help him, and his promises on talk shows that he had exorcised his many demons, the downhill slide happened again and again. He quickly became a liability to himself and even his most loyal support system including Elton John, music companies and management.
While Elton John, who had fought his own personal battles, cleaned up his tiaras and tantrums lifestyle, married his longtime partner, and made sure that the sun didn’t go down on him, George Michael, like Icarus, flew too close to the sun once too often. And now he’s gone forever.
Sure, there will always be his music and the world will mourn his passing, but it’s too late for him to know and hear how much we loved him through his music and videos and concerts. How, despite all the bad publicity, he continued to play to sell out concerts. He was George Michael. He was an incredible singer, musician, and performer. His fans never forgot that. They forgave his faults. They were perhaps the only permanent safety net he had.
If only there was more forgiveness between friends and family, this just might be a better place. But that’s an impossible dream from a cockeyed optimist. The inability to forgive speaks volumes about a person, especially when they’re flesh and blood that have been sadly reduced to a discardable bag of vindictive sticks and bones. At least, we stuck by George Michael through thick and thin. That’s the way God planned it and meant for us to live our lives.