So, George Michael is dead. Death. Passing away. Croaking it. Pegging out. Popping your clogs. We all shuffle off this mortal coil in the end. Death is a fact of life, and in 2016 we’ve been surrounded by it. Celebrity deaths by the bucketload aside, we’ve watched children die on our TV screens this year in the Middle East.
And then we’ve gone back to our daily routine. Because death is not going away, and we better get used to that fact. Yesterday I enjoyed Christmas Day with my family, wore a stupid (expensive) Tatty Devine plastic version of a cracker crown, and over-indulged.
I came home at 11ish, full of too much turkey, way too much sherry, and probably more than enough chocolate for a week, never mind a day. My phone lit up, and told me George Michael was dead. The latest in a celebrity death list 2016 can be gruesomely proud of.
George Michael. Pop star of my dreams. A voice that I could listen to all day and night. A songwriter who created a soundtrack to big parts of my life. Songs that spoke to me through ridiculous teenage heartache, and more serious adult affairs and drama.
Tunes that I danced to, with all the joy in my heart. Music to live by. Music to cry to, to sing along to, to get philosophical to.
George Michael’s music was clever, and beautiful, and open, and welcoming. He told us the story of his own life – the joys and heartaches, and allowed us, no, invited us, to adapt them to fit our own life stories too. He was extraordinary and ordinary.
His humanity was apparent, and his dark and sorrowful 1990 hit, Praying for Time, resonates as much today as it did when it was released – maybe even more so.
Speaking to the New York Times in 1990, when asked about the meaning of the song, George was quoted as saying: “No event inspired the song. It’s my way of trying to figure out why it’s so hard for people to be good to each other. I believe the problem is conditional as opposed to being something inherent in mankind.
“The media has affected everybody’s consciousness much more than most people will admit. Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”
How true he was, and how apt for 2016. In a world where the political climate is changing for the worst, where we are wasteful and selfish, a world of mass consumerism, the worst of capitalism, the rise of fascism, terrorism, and global warming, we really do need to be praying for time.
And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate.
Hanging on to hope
when there is no hope to speak of.
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
so maybe we should all be praying for time
– George Michael, 1990
With a father and father-in-law struggling with incurable illnesses, the fall-out in the families that accompanies that, a biological clock that keeps on ticking, and a body that keeps failing on that score, as well as turning 45 this year, time, or the lack of it, is constantly on my mind.
For a few hours today, I popped George’s music on the record player – we can do that again, with the resurgence of vinyl – and wished that he too, had had a little more time.