George Michael and How Things Change

Posted: January 4, 2017 in 80s Music, 90s Music, Pop, Rock
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There’s a lot to be said about 2016, good or bad. Personally, I had a great 2016, one of the best years ever. Musically, however, I did not.

Aside from this blog, I’ve also been contributing to an online entertainment site, examiner.com for about 4 years. Anything from album reviews, concert reviews, new releases, etc. More of an objective journalistic approach to music writing compared to the much more subjective stuff I write here. The site got bought out by axs.com, and was going to shut down mid-2016. I assumed everything would be the same, just under a different banner. Obviously I was wrong, and by the time I figured it out, it was too late. Over 100 articles I wrote, vanished into thin air; gone, just like that, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

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Over the last 6 years or so, I’ve been taking guitar lessons. First on an acoustic, then gradually switched over to electric (which is way more fun/easy to play.) I started at a music school, then when my instructor had to move, we still managed to keep it up, even resorting to sessions over Skype. That lasted a while, but as life goes, the time for it on both our ends became less and less, and towards the tail end of 2016, I had to throw in the towel, which disconnected me from a part of music that had been in my life for some time. Now my guitars just sit in the corner of the living room, as decoration.

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My musical game also took a dive: my ear wasn’t as close to the ground as it has been in the past, and I’ve fallen behind on new music. During 2016, Torrent sites were constantly being shut down, so it was hard to get and sample any new music. If I heard a song I liked, my routine used to be: download the album, listen to it on repeat for a couple of weeks. Then go back and download earlier albums of the same artist (if applicable,) to create a well-informed opinion. Nowadays, singles drop left, right and centre. Some are on albums, some are bonus tracks, some are B-sides. It’s becoming more difficult to get everything in one place. Spotify is great, but like the mind of today’s younger generation, it also has no attention span. There’s no time to really fall in love with an artist, because every day, new ones pop up out of nowhere.

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Then there were all the musician deaths, particularly the ones that hit me most. David Bowie’s came first, in January, and it stung. I was never a huge fan, but I did know his music. His persona was also something to be admired because he was different; eccentric; fearless. Prince’s passing followed in April, and that hit much closer to home. I’d seen Prince live a few years ago, during a show where he played at least 7 encores. He was incredible in all aspects of his musicianship and artistry. Even my mom was even a huge fan.

On Christmas Day, there was George Michael, and I was stunned. I’ve had the privilege of growing up with older cousins and an older sibling, so in the 80s, I was always in tune with great music. I learned about U2, INXS, and Duran Duran; plus, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and George Michael. He was practically a household name. In fact, my brothers and I used to dance around the house, air-guitaring and  lip singing to “Faith.” I’m also pretty sure George Michael was the first sex symbol I knew (before actually knowing what a sex symbol was.)

When I got older, I found out he was also part of Wham!, and the genius behind “Careless Whisper.” He disappeared for a while from the music scene in the late 90s, but resurfaced with Patience in 2004, and this hit single – he was unstoppable. I don’t know a life without George Michael. I don’t know a music industry without George Michael.

If the musical chaos of 2016 is evidence of anything, it’s that everything changes. Leaders change, people change, life changes. Relationships change, work changes, you change. The lesson is: act now (well, after you finish reading this.) Don’t wait for the timing to be right, because it will never be “right.” You just never know what the future holds, so why wait?

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