A couple of weeks ago I went to see George Michael’s Symphonica tour. A friend of my sister had got the tickets ages ago, they were rubbish tickets for a ridiculous price and then the tour was cancelled. Turned out that was for the best (for us, not for poor George so much) because we were able to get better and cheaper tickets for the rescheduled date. But thanks to all of that, my feeling when I thought about the tour was vague annoyance, which is ridiculous since I’ve loved George since I was 12.
Of course, George does have a way of testing a person. Not just the driving incidents and the, um, Olympic closing ceremony, but I still haven’t forgotten he made us wait 12 years for a new album and then called it Patience. But I forgive him. Because of Faith. And Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (where the hell is Vol 2, eh?). And Older. And the Last Christmas video. And his gorgeous voice.
It’s weird getting older. When the lights went down and everyone cheered, I felt a bubble of excitement in my stomach, but mostly I was just ‘la la, here comes George Michael…’ When I think about what I would have been like at 14 or even 18, I feel a bit sad. But it’s probably better. I don’t really want to scream myself hoarse or wet my pants at my age.
But then he started singing Cowboys and Angels, which is a song I always think I don’t really like but is actually lovely, and I started to cry. It’s not a special song to me and it’s not a song that has any particular emotional resonance (unlike You Have Been Loved, which has the line ‘If I was weak, forgive me, but I was terrified’ which I can barely stand to hear; or A Different Corner, which reminds me of being a teenager, in my room, listening to it over and over and YEARNING), but there I was, crying anyway. I thought I was being subtle, but my sister’s friend had noticed and put her arm round me and I cried even more. And then my sister passed me a tissue and said, “What are you crying for?” and I said, “I don’t knooooooooow!” and cried some more.
And then the bastard did You Have Been Loved AND A Different Corner, so you can imagine.
I assume it’s because these songs – and George himself – have been part of my life for most of my life. Almost three-quarters, in fact. I remember listening to Faith in my bedroom (and screaming my head off at Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena). I remember buying Listen Without Prejudice on cassette and listening to it on the bus back to where I lived and worked as a ‘Mother’s Help’ in Richmond, after I moved to London aged 18. I remember hearing You Have Been Loved when I was pregnant with Harry and couldn’t sleep and crying so much that I woke David up. It’s always been George. With all the press and the drama and the nonsense, I forgot that. I’m so glad the Symphonica tour reminded me.