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March 2004 - Interview on George Michael's album Patience

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:22 pm    Post subject: March 2004 - Interview on George Michael's album Patience Reply with quote

George Michael's new album Patience has just been released. KATHERIN TULICK speaks with the star in his London hotel.

When you think of George Michael it's hard to forget the pervasive '80s image of the fresh faced cherubic boy with the bright eyes, mop of blonde streaked hair and white t-shirt bopping to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Today the face of the 40 year old George Michael as he sits in a London hotel room is a little more lined these days; the hair is blacker and speckled with the faint hints of grey. He is smaller than you would expect with a slight body. His partner of eight years Texan born Kenny Goss is in the next room while his constant companions, two boisterous Labradors called Meg and Abbey come bounding in to greet you.

His mood is buoyant but it's an optimistic mood that has only come recently into the life of George Michael. He is making a career comeback with his first album in eight years, Patience and its first single Amazing that easily déjà vus past hits Fast Love and Too Funky.

"It's such a relief. I really thought I would never be able to do this again," explains the singer who says he has only recently emerged from a massive writer's block. "I have gone through so much to get to this album. I have worked through so much depression, fear and anxiety.

"My life has been like a really bad soap opera for the past 10 years," he laughs.
It doesn't take much prompting to get Michael to talk candidly about his life. "Everything was going my way. And I was happily marching into the history books," he says of his earlier career successes, "but then it all just fell apart."

When Wham mania hit with a caffeine jolt of infectious pop in 1984 it seemed Michael could do no wrong. His transition from teenybopper idol to solo pop superstardom was seamless with his first solo album Faith producing four number one hits including I Want Your Sex and the title track. But with the release of his second album in Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in 1990 Michael began to retreat from the fame that surrounded him, shunning the press and refusing to make videos.

"I decided I needed to protect myself and sort things out privately. I worked out that I was definitely gay and I knew if I was going to be gay and happy then I needed to find a partner and I was not going to do that travelling the world as George Michael," he says.

But just as he retreated from the public his name was blazened in headlines through the '90s. He had a very public court battle with his record company Sony to try and extradite himself from what he claimed was a very restrictive contract. (Coincidentally the bad blood Michael felt for Sony is now in the past, as he has resigned with the label for his new album).

Personally he faced a number of losses. His Brazilian-born lover, Anselmo Feleppa died of AIDS (his 96 album Older was written as a tribute to him) and in 1997 he found his mother was dying of cancer.

Michael claims it was this spin cycle of grief that ultimately created the incident that would be forever imprinted as a grubby footnote on his dossier his arrest for 'lewd behaviour' in a public toilet in a Los Angeles park in 1998 which forced him to 'come out' about his sexuality. Michael now says his arrest was a call to attention. "The idea that people thought I was ashamed of being gay and the motivation it created for me to create some trouble for myself, it took me years to work out why I had done that to myself," he says, "but it was also in a strange way a distraction from the ongoing depression I was feeling over the loss of my partner and my mother."

On Patience Michael has written a song for his mother called, My Mother Had A Brother. "When I was 17 my mum sat me down and told me about her brother who killed himself on the day I was born. She told me she thought he was probably gay and couldn't cope with the family's situation," he says. "So I feel this song is a nice message for my uncle to know that life is so much better now, and if in some way I am his reincarnation to tell him how happy I am and that I share my life openly with a man."

The title track Patience was written and performed on the upright piano John Lennon wrote his classic Imagine. Michael purchased it for 1.5 million pounds. "If I didn't buy it some Japanese investment portfolio would have grabbed it and that would have been a tragedy," he says.

Also included on the album is the song that caused controversy when it was released last year, Shoot The Dog which was Michael's blatant anti Blair/Bush stand.

"I was perfectly aware of the repercussions but I have had a non career in the US for so long, it didn't matter. I think they see me as a communist fag over there," he laughs.

While it's unlikely Michael will ever tour extensively again, he has been asked to perform at the opening of the Olympics in Athens. "I think I will do it," he says. "My father would be thrilled." (his father is Greek Cypriot) "If someone had told me five years ago that my life would be this good now, I would have been so relieved," Michael continues. "I'm not afraid of anything now."
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