Lengthy interview between George Michael and journalist Mark Goodier in Spring 2010 that was included in the Faith: Legacy Edition release. This interview was included in the deluxe box version.
MARK GOODIER: Just set the context of FAITH: it’s 1987, you were making the record, do you remember what kind of year it was — a lot of hard work and a lot of time away from home.
GEORGE MICHAEL: To write FAITH we went to Denmark to do half of it, I guess for tax purposes. The whole tax year out didn’t agree with me at all. In the end it only took six weeks out of my life because I’d done 10 months of touring by the end of ‘88. It’s the only tax year I’ve ever done and I’d always said I wouldn’t do it. I always said, “Why would you? What’s the point in having all that money if you can’t wake up where you want to wake up?” And I promise you, the last six weeks, between the end of the FAITH tour and me being able to come back into the country was the hardest six weeks of my life. I was desperate to come home. Can you imagine, after 10 months? I’m so home orientated anyway, to have to go and hang around in Paris for six weeks … you’ve no idea. I really did debate giving up all the money. I really did.
MG: That would be a kind of impulsive thing to do. I can almost imagine you doing that.
GM: Oh, that’s so me — cut my nose off to spite my face! Or to do what I think is the ethical thing. In other words, do the thing that proves you don’t care about money. I’m capable of being that stupid, there’s no question. Things used to happen really quickly in those days.
MG: So were you feeling liberated after Wham!? Were you feeling completely important that you could now do exactly what you had your heart set on?
GM: You know what, I find it really hard to work out. I know what I felt about my life at the time, which was that I was increasingly lonely. I must have been amazed at how huge it was. I must have been, because I wasn’t looking for that. To me that would have been frying pan Into the fire.
Even though I wanted American success I didn’t want to be the biggest thing of the year there. It was great for my ego but all the way through I was thinking, “Oh what are you doing.” I did want to make music and I wanted it to reach people in the most professional form possible. I did make those videos.
MG: And people loved them. So did the songs for this record come together easily?
GM: Not easily, but more easily than at the end of Wham! I was very excited musically, that I had my own voice, that I’d worked with Aretha Franklin and everything had gone too well. I was incredibly proud of making the album but I don’t think I ever imagined for a second it would be bigger than Wham!
MG: You have always said that you’ve got the capacity to write songs in your head, which is an extraordinary thing: do you recall how much of this record written that way?
GM: Oh yeah, a lot of it. I don’t do that anymore because I don’t feel that it’s going to give me the subtlety that I want. Some of the best ideas I forget if I don’t put them down — the little ideas. The big idea stay with you but the little things that you thought, “Oh, I’ll do that later …” you forget them.
MG: How many lost fragments of great compositions must there be?
GM: Well there are so many fragments of records I shouldn’t have given up on. That’s the interesting thing: there are records that I should have finished, because they were actually great.
MG: The record release was preceded by the worldwide hit with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me,” you couldn’t have asked for a better set-up.
GM: From an artistic point of view — and from the point of view of my ego — it just got back better.
MG: FAITH sold a million copies in its first week in the States
MG: Which was extraordinary, but you could make great records and you also knew what you had to do to get it out there.
GM: Absolutely, and always at the center of it there’s this ridiculously immovable belief in what I do. But it happened so much that I would achieve things so they hadn’t been achieved before in terms of Records or whatever, that I kind of didn’t notice what I was achieving.
MG: Because you were too busy achieving it maybe?
GM: Because I was so busy working. But I’ll give you an example of the kind of confidence that I had, ludicrous confidence for a child, for a 19 year old: everybody told me that Wham! couldn’t play stadiums in America, they said it would be humiliating for us, a pop band had never done that…
MG: Playing in stadiums was exclusively for rock bands.
GM: … and you can put ‘pop’ in it. I said to Simon Napier-Bell and Jazz Summers, “Look, we’ve had three number ones in completely different categories. We’d had ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,’ ‘Careless Whisper’ and then ‘Everything She Wants’ — all number ones and different markets almost. I remember the American promoter trying to say to me, “I don’t really think we should be going for arenas, you’ve only been successful in America for 6 months,” and I said, “Just put one on sale and see what happens.” And it went “bang.” a stadium full like that. But that wasn’t that remarkable to me, I got so used to feeling like a smart arse. It’s not that I don’t believe now, I just know that life isn’t that lucky most of the time, things don’t fall into place like that, that much of the time. So now I look back and think, “I can’t believe you had the guts to do that.”
MG: But that’s a confidence of youth. It’s a belief in your own talent which you’d already proved to yourself.
say it’s belief, but it’s not just that, because belief is a kind of cognitive
thing that you know you’re thinking about — “Is it good enough, is it better
than people think?” It wasn’t that, it
was just “bang”. It was like someone else was going, “The reality is you can do
all these things.”
It’s a part of my psyche that I don’t understand, but I know that I’m not in control of it in any way. It overrides my life completely, always, in that my life comes second to the degree that I almost resent it sometimes, which is one of the reasons that I couldn’t have made it much more difficult for myself.
MG: You were throwing your own grenades to see if you could break it.
GM: Exactly and, somehow, knowing that it was never going to happen and that I was going to ruin it.
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael on ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ (1990)
- George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)