George Michael Song: Roxanne


Album: Songs from the Last Century
Release Date:
13 December 1999

Album: Symphonica (Deluxe version)
Release Date: 14 March 2014

Released as a Promo Single: 

  • UK (Virgin, Aegean, 1999)
  • Japan (Virgin, Toshiba EMI, 1999)
  • Colombia (Virgin, 1999)
  • Germany (Virgin, 1999)
  • Spain (Virgin, Aegean, 1999)
  • Russia

Written by: Gordon Sumner 
Produced by: Phil Ramone and George Michael
Recorded and Mixed by: Frank Filipetti

Live Performances:  The song was performed as part of his Symphonica tour, which took place between 2011 and 2012. He also performed ‘Roxanne’ at the Palais Garnier in Paris on September 9, 2012.

LYRICS:

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night
Roxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to
I loved you since I knew ya
I wouldn’t talk down to ya
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy
I know my mind is made up
So put away your make up
I told you once I won’t tell you again
It’s a bad way
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to
Baby don’t put it on
Baby don’t put it on
Baby don’t put it on
Baby don’t put it on

What George Michael Said:

Foxy: Is Roxanne a special song for you?

Well, to be honest, it’s not one of my favourite Sting songs. But in terms of the writers or people that have impressed me during my career, the two British writers that I most respect and wanted to acknowledge are Sting and Bono. I really think they’re two of the best writers during the time that my career has spanned. So really it was a matter of, what Sting song can I do? And, to be honest, I really like to cover songs that, not that I think that could not necessarily be better, but that I don’t think were perfect in the first place. I’ve never really liked Roxanne that much, but it’s a great song. I don’t like the original record that much.

Foxy: What made you give it this jazzy feel?

I was sitting at my computer one night, and I don’t usually get inspired at the computer, but I was sitting there and it just came to me. I was trying to think, what can I do which is more recent than the 70’s and 80’s, something really well known but I also need to change it completely.

SOURCE: Radio interview of George Michael with Dr. Fox (Neil Fox) on Capital FM on December 11, 1999. Also mentioned in George Michael’s Cover of “Roxanne”.


‘The first track I ever sang for Phil was the Police’s Roxanne,’ says Michael.

‘I thought to myself, “Christ, this had better be good!” After I’d finished, he was so complimentary. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.’

SOURCE: “George Michael: Why I Quit Drugs


George Michael first sang for Ramone, a producer he described as understanding ‘more about music than anyone I had ever met’, in 1999. His song choice was Roxanne by Sting. ‘I remember thinking, “My God, here I am singing for a man who’s worked with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Elton and just about every one of my favourite vocalists.” When I finished, he came out of the booth and he gave me possibly the greatest compliment I’d ever heard. I nearly fell over. I thought, “How lucky am I?” It was one of the greatest, happiest moments of my life’.

SOURCE: Christie’s Catalogue: The Voice

Videos of 'Roxanne'

‘Roxanne’ at the Palais Garnier in Paris during the Symphonica Tour.

Official video of ‘Roxanne’ filmed in Amsterdam

‘Listen without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged’