An article on how one dad reacted to George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” song, written by Larry McMullen and published in the Philadelphia Daily News on August 11, 1988.
I just happened to be browsing through an article on George Michael in the morning paper yesterday, about his appearance at the Spectrum the night before and how he’s sold 5 million copies of just one album. I figured it was one more proof that no matter how big a modern pop star becomes, the chances are that I never heard of him and never will unless I’m hard up for something to read in the paper.
The piece mentioned almost casually that Michael opened the show at the Spectrum with “I Want Your Sex,” which was described as politely funky but hardly spectacular.
If anybody has a right to worry about a song like that, it’s someone with as many daughters as I have. But I understood that what George Michael, or any other singer, mostly wants from the girls he sings to is their money from buying his records.
So I didn’t worry. I just got curious.
I asked my 13-year-old if she ever heard of George Michael. She said he was a singer. I asked if he was popular with her age group or older.
She said, “Everybody,” and she dragged out the word, which meant she couldn’t imagine a single human being on the planet not loving him to death.
“I never even heard of him,” I told her.
She shrugged like I should have known she didn’t mean me when she said, “Everrryyybody.”
I dropped it. Nobody really listens to the words of songs, anyway, except people who think Bruce Springsteen is a poet. And no one can argue with them because the only words Springsteen ever sang that the rest of us could understand were, “Born in the U.S.A.”
Not the whole song. Just those four words, which he must have liked a lot to sing them so clearly. Everything else, he mumbles.
I didn’t mention George Michael again yesterday until my wife came home from work. She said she never heard of him, either. I told her our youngest daughter liked Michael a whole lot and slipped it into the conversation that one of his big hits was “I Want Your Sex.”
My wife said her mother didn’t like or understand the songs she listened to when she was a kid, either.
I said it’s OK not to understand when the words are “Life can be a dream, sh-boom and hoping we meet again, hey nonny ning nang, dadin-gadingadadingada . . .,” or whatever those words were.
I went to my youngest daughter, who was listening to music in another room, and asked her what the words were to “I Want Your Sex.” She said she couldn’t think of them unless she sang the song. She said she wasn’t sure if this was the way it started out, but it went something like:
“Don’t you think it’s time you had sex with me?”
The next line must be very important to the beat of the song because my 13-year-old sang it loud, like every letter was in capitals:
“SEX WITH ME?”
Oh, I said, and left her alone before she could sing me the rest of it. Then I asked one of her sisters who is practically a legal grownup for more words to the song. She gave me a couple of stanzas:
“Sex is natural,
“sex is good.
“Not everybody does it,
“but everybody should.
“Sex is natural,
“sex is fun.
“Sex is best
“when it’s one on one.”
My youngest daughter came into the room at that moment popping her fingers and swaying her shoulders and sang: “One on one. One on one.”
She said it was not only Michael’s music that was great, but he was very cute, too. She said if I was going to write about him, I should include our address so he can find our house. The daughter who is practically a grownup said I should put a map with it, too.
Our daughter who was married last year and just gave us a grandson said I had a chance long before this to get upset over the song. She said all I had to do was pay attention.
“They played jt at my wedding,” she said. Our second-oldest daughter said there was no reason to worry about George Michael, anyway.
She said kids at a Michael performance are never caught drinking alcohol or doing drugs.
“No wonder,’ I said “They’re too busy.”
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael’s Cover of “Let Her Down Easy”
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- List of Duets and Backup Vocals
- George Michael Interview on Q Magazine (June 1988)