What George Michael’s Music Meant to Me

Source: Rolling Stone

Source: Rolling Stone

It is hard to believe the news of the passing away of pop icon George Michael, who was anything but ashamed of this label. While 2016 has been cruel when it comes to taking away so many stars that we love, with Carrie Fisher being the latest, George Michael’s death has been truly unexpected and untimely. Perhaps, it is the opioids again. It is not as if I never expected to hear this news, but its timing came as a real shocker. And there is a reason why it came as a shock to someone of my generation.

Growing up in the 90s, George Michael’s music meant so much more than just songs on tape. It was way past the Wham! years and he was well established in his solo career. But most of all, George Michael was establishing himself as a rebel figure that became an icon for individual freedom and personal choices. A gay icon before being gay was even remotely acceptable, George Michael became the voice for millions of all gay, straight, bi and other orientations when he expressed his sexuality through his music.

Right from the very beginning, no idea ever appealed more to me than individualism. Nothing brought me greater inspiration than the ideals of individual freedom and the importance of each individual. This is where I saw his music as an inspiration, and as a constant soundtrack to my life, that lifted me up in my darkest of moments. His music was truly empowering and inspiring. I recall the time when nothing else made me feel better than his music and how I bonded with my siblings over his music.

Source: Columbia

The way George Michael defined Freedom may have been gibberish to the ears of many at the time. It defined a worldview to the rest of us. It became the anthem of the defiant. His songs boasting of sexual openness became a license to take liberties. He made having faith sound cool and spun the wheel of our curiosity. Just like Bowie and Madonna, he was truly a figure that changed the face of music.

So for these reasons alone, I could never forget George Michael, nor separate his work from my life. The words of his songs, as well as those tunes, became a part of the way I saw the world. At least at that time. And I cherished every single moment of it. And never regretted it for a second. For someone who could barely play a six string, George Michael proved to be someone with a genius for producing the most haunting music you would ever listen to, enabling him to sell millions of albums effortlessly.

Source: musicroom.it

Source: musicroom.it

Now that we learn that George Michael was a far more generous and gracious person than we thought, considering his crude, 90s figure, having arrested for lewd acts in a men’s restroom in the United States, inspiring his controversial Outside video. However, his charity figures would never have made any difference to his fans, who already saw him as an inspiration.

To a generation that was bogged down by too many rules, George Michael taught how to stand up to convention. Taught the importance of questioning convention. He most certainly was not alone in expressing himself like that among the pop and rock icons of the 1980s and 1990s, but he was most certainly one that I personally associated with more than anyone else. And who I admired more than anyone else, even those whose music I got to appreciate even more than his later in my life.

This certainly is an end of an era in music, and one that passes with a heavy sense of personal loss and a scar on the heart, just like at the start of this year with the deaths of David Bowie and Prince. And nothing is more heartbreaking than the news of his possible return in 2017.

Source: Virgin/MTV

RIP George Michael.

You  have been loved.

 

Ravi Shankar – The Sound of Memories

Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) - Source: Nagara Gopal/The Hindu

Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) – Source: Nagara Gopal/The Hindu

What do memories sound like?

I am sure when I will look back at my life at its end, a lot of them will sound like the music of Ravi Shankar.

As I am sure what they would have sounded like to him.

The greatest sitar maestro of our times passed away on December 12, 2012 in a San Diego hospital. He was 92.

From his fabulous works with the London Symphony Orchestra and the soundtrack of Pathar Panchali to the soundtrack of Gandhi, which is one of my fondest memories of his music, every note out of his strings was divine. And I, by no means, want to deify him. It’s just sheer magic.

He popularized, if not introduced in the true sense of the word, Indian classical music in the West. Particularly with the Beatles. Particularly with George Harrison.

But it must have felt good, to some extent, to leave the world with such massive marks that would keep on reminding people of you for eternity.

I have often pictured myself standing facing the sun rising over Ganga on one of the Ghats in his birthplace Varanasi right after dawn with his Shanti Mantra playing. I hope to do that before I die. A surreal spiritual experience.

Source: Anna Kastner/vedicodyssey.com

Source: Anna Kastner/vedicodyssey.com

Also, thank you for Anoushka Shankar.

One of the rare moments where procreation actually worked.

Rest in Peace. At least we do when we listen to your music.