Last week George Michael unveiled his new single ‘White Light’ to the world on the thirtieth anniversary of ‘Wham Rap’ hitting the charts. This time last week, I was contemplating writing about Wham! and George and the musical influence on me (and posting a few pics with my entire GM collection). After hearing ‘White Light’ though, I didn’t not to on this occasion. There was something deeper to this.
Since George released the cover of ‘True Faith’ for Comic Relief, he has been using a vocoder effect on his vocals which he uses again on the backing vocals on ‘White Light’. The tune itself is a grower and sonically does seem understated at times but I really love the dischord between George’s vocals and the backing track.
That’s what I thought, musically, of the track until I heard the Kinky Rowland remix last night which was premiered on Phil Marriott‘s show on Gaydar Radio. This is an awesome dance mix and could easily, in my humble opinion, be one of the big club tunes of the year.
I’m not sure though that ‘White Light’ can be looked at or compared to other music George has released. This track is about George’s illness last December, he suffered from severe pneumonia and had to undergo a tracheotomy to keep him breathing.
On September 30th 2000, I got caught in a house fire. I was lucky, I miraclously woke up and crawled out of the building. Along the way, scorching my lungs and my vocal chords and (not for the faint hearted) burned the entire side of my hand on a hot fire extinguisher. That’s why ‘White Light’ is a special song. I, too, was in intensive care. My throat swelled up as did my vocal chords, making it extremely hard to breathe. So much so that the nice doctors were going to knock me out and put me on a respirator until they could stabilise my condition. The didn’t even know if I would live, such was the severity of the reaction I had taken to the smoke inhalation.
Listening to the lyrics of ‘White Light’ brings back so many memories of that time. Being musically inclined, I’ve always attached lyrics to situations, this one had two, which I would run through my head (cos I couldn’t speak). The first was Garbage and the line ‘The trick is to keep breathing’. The second came from the first song that was on the radio when I got out of Intensive Care. It was Sonique and the song was called ‘Sky’ and the first lines of the song. ‘Look at me, it really was not easy, but I can breath.’ Corny? Probably but it gets you through and that’s exactly what ‘White Light’ is about. The thing that keeps you going. That’s why ‘White Light’ is this week’s Tune of the Week. It will be released in August.