First off let’s get right to it, a little over a year has passed and for me the passing of George Michael is still surreal. For many of us George Michael’s career marked some significant times in our lives. When Wham’s Make It Big hit I was a nerdy Freshman in high school. When Faith was making it do what it do I was a slightly less nerdy Senior in high school. As life goes between those two bookends a lot of changes occurred.
Today our series(which by the way please stay on me throughout the year about posting at least one of these a week) features George’s composition “Father Figure” or as I like to refer to it one of the original BET/MTV parallel videos. What do I mean by that? Of course it became commonplace in the 90’s (think Mariah) for you to be watching BET and wonder aloud “Hey I wonder what’s on MTV?” or vice-versa only to see when you changed the channel they were playing the exact same video at the exact same time. “Father Figure” was like that. “Father Figure” was like that at radio as well.
Do you remember when mainstream music was allowed to breathe? I do. On “Father Figure” George Michael’s first vocal entry is almost thirty-eight seconds in. What a concept! To let the music build and grow, an aura of mystery before our story begins. No producers yelling that they’re on the beat. No gratuitous vocal riffs or moans, or recorded distractions from electronic devices. Just an opening with the hi-hat cymbal keeping time, a synth swell and a lead line a few bars later that leads to the entrance of the drums. Listen as the kick drum and bass synth are in lock step and the rim shot pushes and pulls courtesy of some slapback in the effects chain. Do you hear those finger snaps cutting through?
Take Me to the Bridge, The 2nd One
For me it’s all about the 4:23 mark “Greet me with the eyes of a child…” in contrast to the verse, chorus and first bridge this section with what’s happening harmonically it always sounded like the sun was about to rise, if that makes sense? That whole section just was always so uplifting and I would always wait in anticipation for its entrance.
What about you?
P.S. We will definitely be doing an Inside The Album Podcast on Faith this year.
Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.