Whew! I made it to the end of the little pet project of counting down my fave holiday songs.
Prior to four years ago tomorrow (December 25th) I listened to “Last Christmas” as simply a fangirl of George Michael. He was my first big celebrity crush at the tender age 8.
My jerk of Uncle Jeff tried, at that time, to dissuade me by pointing out that George Michael wore an earring in only the right ear which made him gay. That only made me love George even more. On Christmas Day of 2016, George Michael was found dead at age 53 and I remember exactly where I was: on a holiday bender. With news of his passing, I sobered up at that moment. I had lost a musical influence who influenced me with both his songs and his life (and lifestyle...we were/are both Cancerian “party girls” of Greek heritage who are queer as fuck although we weren't always able to express that).
Wham!’s "Last Christmas" is one of the most enduring and successful Christmas songs of all time, but did you know it was recorded using only a LinnDrum, a Roland Juno-60, bass guitar, and sleigh bells? All parts were recorded by George Michael, and according to Michael’s engineer Chris Porter, recording was “laborious” due to George’s limited musicianship, but the sessions were ultimately successful.
"Last Christmas" isn’t just about the lies we tell ourselves in order to cope with rejection – it’s also about the cognitive dissonance of obsessive love. At the end of the first verse, Michael pithily sets out this kind of doublethink: now he knows “what a fool I’ve been, but if you kissed me now, I know you’d fool me again”. It’s just one heart-rending epigram in a song full of them, capturing the way defiance masks hope, and how easily love and desire can delude us into forgiveness.
Damn George Michael, I will forever love you and your heartbreaking holiday song takes the #1 slot on my holiday jams countdown.