Chart Peak: 1 [1 week]
Another big song that I'd totally forgotten was on the album, although we probably didn't play this track more than once, if that. Placing it at the very start of Disc 2 makes is easy to avoid, of course, and it wasn't as if we hadn't heard it before: it was a hit in January 1996, so decidedly old news by the time Now 34 arrived in late summer.
Even when it came out, it seemed a bit late: especially considering the title, it was widely suspected that he had planned it as a Christmas single and wimped out at the last minute, saving it for the easier pickings at the start of the following year. If that was indeed the case, the ploy worked as this not obviously commercial track became his first solo Number 1 since the Wham! days, if that's not too much of a contradiction. There was a lot riding on this release, his first for new label Virgin after the famous legal dispute with Sony, and at the time the choice of a slow seven-minute song (there is a shorter edit but it was never released commercially) seemed a little pretentious on Michael's part. What he didn't acknowledge at the time was that this song was actually about his late partner Anselmo Feleppa, who died two years after they met: thus the references to Jesus are an extended metaphor for the effect on Michael of their brief relationship. Unfortunately, whilst his sincerity isn't in doubt, his natural inclination towards the musically smooth and the lack of an obvious chorus makes it unengaging to the listener; he clearly expressed something in writing it, but failed to communicate it effectively. It did him more good to write this song than it did us to hear it.
Also appearing on: Now 22 (with Elton John), 23, 25 (with Queen), 35, 36, 37, 38,
Available on: Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael
Charting 1997: 27th December
3 years ago