Below is an interview “Faith: George Michael Speaks” by Paul Suimper published in No. 1 magazine on November 14, 1987
GM’s first solo album, ‘Faith’, has already created huge controversy. Only last week we printed the bickering between Bursche and Simper as they argued whether it was truly Godlike or truly awful. Now the lad himself has decided to step in to give No. 1 a personal insight into the tracks that make up ‘Faith’.
Lolling about his pad on a Tuesday lunchtime while his sis Yioda goes about organising his laundry – “I think my shirt from the party’s upstairs” – George is full of beans. Not surprising really. He’s just produced a cracking solo album which is about to bed down on the town of the charts. And he had a merry bash at The Savoy to celebrate. “I thought it went really well,” he says. “It wasn’t tacky. There weren’t any album sleeves all over the place. I really enjoyed myself.” Yes. Full of beans. And now he’d like to tell you all about this album of his. The one that all those business bods at his record company are reckoning could sell more than 30 million copies by the end of next year. Phewee. Where does one start?
The original video for this was not the one you’ve seen on telly. What I wanted was to use a disused 50s diner – one that hadn’t changed since the 50s. There are a lot of ghost towns in America and I was sure we’d find one but we ran out of time. Unfortunately we’d already started filming some of it in England. There was this opening shot outside a church which was where the story about us interrupting a funeral came from. They really had booked a funeral when we were filming. I felt really guilty about that. If that had been someone I knew I’d have been furious but the people were alright. Personally I thought us interrupting them was totally blasphemous. Anyway that shot cost us 16 grand so if you ever see a strange shot of a church in one of my videos you’ll know where it’s come from. And no, I can’t play the guitar in the video. I can play guitar but not that well. If you look in the video some of the time I’ve got a glove on and other times I haven’t. That’s because I’d grazed my fingers on the strings which were new. There was blood all over the guitar so it seemed best to cover the hand up. I do play quite a few instruments on the album – bass and keyboards – which I think helps the album. It meant I had to rely on airtight arrangements rather than thickening the sound. I play drums as well which I love. I’m going to be the next Phil Collins. Play the drums and go bald.
Yes, it’s quite bonkworthy isn’t it. The vocal’s very throaty. I think ‘Father Figure’ is the most original sounding thing on the album. The best thing about this was when I was doing some European promotion for the album last week. They’d obviously heard that the press were trying to make me out as some kind of pervert so this Spanish journalist says – “tell me George, do you have a good relationship with your father?” It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the lyric! And’s not about me feeling old. It’s just about a relationship where the man is a father figure. Oh well.
I Want Your Sex
Do I have any regrets about this one? No, I don’t think so. A lot of people might have slated it but I still like it and it’s nearly a year old now. I like playing it really loud at home. I think when you actually look at it all the Prince comparisons are really quite thin. The way I write is so totally different to his lyrics. My only reservation is on the first verse which I think does sound quite promiscuous. That’s because I originally wrote that when the song was for David (Austin). Otherwise I haven’t scrutinised it as much as other people. Do I get propositioned more now? Over the last year, yes.
One More Try
I think this is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s certainly my best vocal. I actually wrote the whole thing from start to finish in eight hours. We recorded it the same day. What happened was I was working on another song which was going disastrously then this just came out. I don’t find ‘One More Try’ hard to listen to the way I did ‘A Different Corner’. It’s more engaging. When I wrote ‘A Different Corner’ I was still in the middle of feeling that way about the relationship while ‘One More Try’ is after I’d decided. I don’t know whether Pat’s heard it. I’m sure she has but I haven’t spoken to her. Elton likes it. I played it to him a few months ago. But he doesn’t think it’s as much like him as ‘Kissing A Fool’. He thinks that’s like ‘Idol’ off his ‘Blue Moves’ album. I don’t agree though, ‘Idol’ is a great song and it’s got a similar style.
No, I don’t dance around in the studio! You can’t ‘cos you’d drift off mike. I don’t know how Michael Jackson does it. Obviously a lot of people are seeing ‘Faith’ as direct competition to ‘Bad’ but I think they’re very different albums. Mine relies much more on different musical ideas while his is selling a particular lifestyle – BAD – a particular personality. I can push my looks and stuff for promotion but it’s not that sort of album. People keep saying the sleeve looks like a Right Guard ad (yes!) but I’d have to smell pretty bad for me to get a whiff of it from that distance. As far as I’m concerned the people who think that are the sort of people who think Venus De Milo is a statue of a disabled person.
Hand to Mouth
Before you ask it was written before Hungerford. It’s very weird. I was in LA when I started writing this. It was the time of the Freeway Shootings. People kept getting out of cars and shooting each other. Literally! About 14 people were killed. What happened was one day there was a traffic jam, this guy got out of his car and blew someone else’s brains out. The next day it was in the papers and a week later everyone was doing it. They were telling people on the news not to go on the freeways. It was crazy. So I was going to write a song called ‘Gun Control’. Can you believe that?! I’d written the first two verses and it was going to be about all the bad things happening in America. The week after I came back Hungerford happened. Can you imagine what would have happened if I’d come out with that song?
Look at Your Hands
The wifebeating subject of this was something I had been reading about. But it was also a situation that had involved somebody quite close to home. The thing was David’s backing track was quite sexy so I felt I had to write the song from the point of view of someone outside the situation. It’s a very selfish song. This young guy comes along and he’s saying to this woman come away with me even though she’s got these two kids. It’s like one of those 50s movies where a kid gets involved with a sleazy older woman.
Having ‘a monkey on your back’ is American slang for having an addiction. It can apply to other things but I was thinking of drugs. If ‘Monkey’ is a single I’ll definitely ram that point home more in the video. I think if I had to deal with a friend who was an addict I’d feel totally helpless. I’ve watched that sort of situation and it’s very frustrating. That’s what the line ‘I hate your friends’ is about. When anyone gets in that position there’s always a group of friends encouraging it. You feel like you’re on the outside and there’s nothing you can do to drag them out of it.
Kissing a Fool
I don’t think I’ve ever really been influenced by other friends as to who I should or shouldn’t go out with. ‘Kissing A Fool’ isn’t really about that. It’s about a relationship I had with someone who couldn’t handle the situation because of who I was, George Michael. At the time it did surprise me. First I hadn’t realised how much I’d achieved and secondly I hadn’t realised it could have its limitations. I write it in that swing style because I think that period of music had that feeling of resignation. It’s very much a late night giving up feeling.
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