Part 3 of the interview between George Michael and journalist Mark Goodier in Spring 2010. This was from a booklet that was included in the Faith: Legacy Edition release (deluxe box version).
MG: Like with everything that you do, FAITH is about what it looks like as well as it sounds like.
GM: I was just trying to look better! I was just trying to find out what I was because, I think, if you don’t know who you are sexually then you really don’t know how to dress. Funnily enough, it was only about three weeks after my first “proper shag” that we made “I’m Your Man”, which is the first video in which I vaguely look like I’ve got a clue.
MG: That’s a growing up thing isn’t it?
GM: Absolutely, but there’s a sense of joy in that video. Before that, there would have been something, not missing but, coming from somewhere more on the surface.
MG: And there’s a knowingness.
GM: It’s one of my favorite videos. Andrew and I both look like we’re having a blast and it’s the first video I see it now where I don’t think,: “Oh …” I see the child in everything before that. At that point I suddenly had a clue who I was, and it didn’t occur to me that, in the course of about a year and a half, I wouldn’t have to copy anybody.
MG: You’d be setting your own agenda, both musically and stylistically.
DM: But, I promise you, getting that look together wasn’t like, “What should I do?” It was more like, “How do I look better?” Because I was so insecure still.
MG: Did it take a long time?
GM: No, it was just there. I think the only thing I really “added” to the way I was dressing were the pearls on the jacket — which is one of many things that other people have taken credit for. It was my way of trying to say, “Look, I’m not thinking I’m butch here.” I was kind of preparing myself for the future. In other words, I somehow wanted to “feminise” it, but I somehow wanted to make people understand that I wasn’t stupid enough to think that I was butch. The ‘fairy biker’ look; I was fine with that.
MG: You weren’t Axel Rose.
GM: No, exactly..
MG: I remember your publisher, Dick Leahy, telling me about when he first heard “Faith” without the guitar solo.
GM: That’s right, he heard it when it was literally about two minutes long, because it was just a closer for the album.
MG: And yet, it became …
GM: Basically, Dick Leahy said: “This is amazing, you need to give it a proper structure, give it a middle eight, and resolve it properly.” I don’t remember very well, but he says that I came back the next day and just played it to him and went: “Did you mean it like that?” And it was as it was. It’s only recently that I’ve realized that “Faith” is my second biggest record after “Careless Whisper”. Well, no, there’ s “Last Christmas”, of course, but other than for seasonal reasons, I think it’s the second biggest selling single.
MG: It says a lot for you that even though you had learned a lot about your craft …
GM: … I still knew who to listen to. The very first example of that was Jerry Wexler telling me: “You never jump up a key at the end of a record. Never.” Because that’s what I’d done on previous singles,“ Bad Boys ”,“ Young Guns ”- but I never did it again. With “Careless Whisper”, for once I thought someone else’s work was better than mine.
I couldn’t fathom that this man who had made these records that were absolutely iconic to me would make a record that didn’t have what my demo had. It didn’t make any sense to me. I loved what he’d done, so I was in total denial, but at that stage I’d made “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” so people were saying, “Look, you can do this, so you need to go back and do Careless Whisper yourself.” But I didn’t know that the records I was making then, we’d still be talking about today.
MG: You never know at the time.
GM: You never know that at the time. I know that I’ll very rarely write a song that goes for the jugular again. I think it’s quite clear that I’m incapable of going for the jugular. If I can have a chorus that sneaks up on people the way “Fast Love” does, I’m always going to go for that rather than the one that you can sing two seconds after you’ve heard it.
MG: What about “Father Figure”?
GM: Do you know what’s interesting about the making of that song? It started off with a rhythm track with a snare, and when you play it like that it sounds a bit like Prince. But I must have been listening to it without the snare and gone, “Oh my God, that totally changes the record!” It suddenly becomes a gospel record. A couple of things in my career have been a complete accident, where I stumbled upon the sound. I know when something resonates, and one of my saving graces is that I can hear something when I stumble upon it. When I’m actually going for something else, on the way to a different sound,. I have the ability to stop and say, “No. Actually, that’s much better.” It’s tiny little things like that that make a record, I think.
MG: Is this also a function of how you write and record?
GM: For the most part I try and play everything. It wasn’t the case in Wham! Apart from “Last Christmas” and “Everything She Wants” are all me. Both of these tracks were all made on one synthesiser.
MG: On this record, is this partly why there’s an intimacy, not just lyrically, but musically?
GM: I don’t know about the intimacy. I think the minimalism of some of it is because I didn’t have the ability to play!
MG: That’s very honest of you!
GM: Well, I don’t have the ability to play any of it live. I understand music enough to be able to play it and construct it so it sounds like a proper performance, but I can’t do any of that “live”. For instance, I did the bass line and the chords to ‘Cowboys and Angels; and it’s probably the longest time I’ve ever spent on a chord sequence and a bass line.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- Desert Island Discs: George Michael Interview (2007)