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Aug 13

GEORGE MICHAEL – “Jesus To A Child”

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#732, 20th January 1996

Jesus To A ChildWriting this post could have felt awkward. I have been very lucky: I’ve never had to face the premature loss of a loved one, and having never been tested by grief in that way I can’t fully grasp what George Michael was finding in himself to make “Jesus To A Child” after his lover’s death.

On the other hand, this is an exceptionally generous, welcoming record. If the “stages of grief” have any veracity – and as I say, I’m fortunate enough not to really know yet – then surely this is acceptance, or as close to it as the bereaved can ever come. However measured Michael’s performance is, in places it’s heartbreaking. But even as he sings “the lover I still miss” I don’t feel like a voyeur – this is his monument, a work Michael needs his public to hear. Even though few at the time knew the story behind it, the sincerity, and the will to somehow pass on something extraordinary and vanished, is palpable. It’s a heartfelt celebration of the effect love can have on a life, and it’s a songwriter consciously setting himself his hardest possible task, and achieving it.

It also sounds beautiful. “Jesus To A Child” is very long for a Number One, but the slow bossanova rhythms winding through it make it inviting, even beguiling, where more hymnal, stately chart-toppers are suffocating. The synth banks and high flutes could easily have sounded marbled and cold, but the rhythms divert that: this is the sound of something waking, allowing itself to feel again. So when Michael reaches the crux of this remarkable song – “the love we would have made, I’ll make it for two” – I believe him.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    wichitalineman on 20 Aug 2013 #

    Now! watch: This opened Disc 2 of Now 34, which I think was the only way you could buy JTAC on vinyl.

    It mixes up genres a lot more than imminent Nows, with a classic Britpop one-two after JTAC, some American Rock (ooh yeah) from Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams, post-grunge ballache from Joan Osbourne, and whatever the heck How Bizarre was meant to be.

    The presence of Space suggests Britpop’s phase three – its terminal phase – has arrived. Blimey, that came and went faster than I expected.

    (note: Disc One includes three currently bunnied tracks)

    George Michael : “Jesus to a Child”
    Oasis : “Wonderwall”
    The Bluetones : “Slight Return”
    Paul Weller : “Peacock Suit”
    Bon Jovi : “Hey God”
    Bryan Adams : “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You”
    Belinda Carlisle : “In Too Deep”
    Suggs : “Cecilia”
    Blur : “Charmless Man”
    Suede : “Trash”
    Joan Osborne : “One of Us”
    Crowded House : “Instinct”
    Lighthouse Family : “Ocean Drive”
    Tina Turner : “On Silent Wings”
    Everything But The Girl : “Wrong”
    OMC : “How Bizarre”
    OMD : “Walking on the Milky Way”
    Space : “Female of the Species”
    Cast : “Walkaway”
    Boyzone : “Coming Home Now”

  2. 27
    Steve Mannion on 20 Aug 2013 #

    I still like ‘Female Of The Species’ but I do not believe there is any other Space song even a tenth as tolerable. I can never forgive Joan Osborne for that last line on ‘One Of Us’ – “nobody calling on the phone…’cept for the Pope maybe *oh-no-got-to-squeeze-this-really-clever rhyme-in-before-the-end-of-the-bar* IN ROME.”

  3. 28
    Izzy on 20 Aug 2013 #

    I like how they’ve put OMC and OMD together

  4. 29
    thefatgit on 20 Aug 2013 #

    “How Bizarre” with the Spanish Harlem-ish guitar and deadpan rap-thingy?

    Don’t remember it at all.

  5. 30
    Chelovek na lune on 20 Aug 2013 #

    Don’t have anything to add about this. It’s beautiful and moving, and not too long at all.

    Like the bunnied follow-up (and unlike Babylon Zoo), it was very big indeed in Ukraine.

  6. 31
    Another Pete on 20 Aug 2013 #

    This must be around the time of the famed Chris Eubank “at number 6 Cecilia by Suggs” TOTP episode. I was never too sure if he was in on the joke or not.

  7. 32
    Patrick Mexico on 20 Aug 2013 #

    Yeah I’m with Chelovek on this. Given most of my posts so far have involved cod-nostalgic “Are you a true 90s kid?” frippery (not that there isn’t a market for that), it would be wrong to speculate too much on a song of such sensitive and heartfelt content. I’ll admit it’s a little too long to be truly iconic, but a thing of real dignified panache, and Michael (who both my parents are fond of for slightly different reasons..) after what seemed like centuries (and some messy legal troubles apparently) returns to number 1 in style. 7.

  8. 33
    Elmtree on 25 Aug 2013 #

    I like that this scored higher than ‘the best number one George Michael’s been involved with’ (ADC), which got 8.

  9. 34
    Patrick Mexico on 3 Sep 2013 #

    Cast…

    What? (Discuss. 20 marks. You may not use a calculator.)

  10. 35
    Mark G on 3 Sep 2013 #

    Beg Pudding? Or is that one of those “previous spam message deleted, rendering messg #34 incomprehensible” things?

  11. 36
    Patrick Mexico on 4 Sep 2013 #

    No. Cast. Cast. Cast. John Fashanu. John Fashanu. JOHN Fash-AR-nu.

  12. 37
    DJBobHoskins on 5 Jan 2014 #

    It is a gorgeous song. But too long. I found the DJ edit a few months ago (which they refused to put on the single or any compilation) and its relative brevity does the song more justice. It may sound shallow, but I always thought till then that it was a beautiful song that lessened its impact somewhat by outstaying its welcome.

  13. 38
    Billy Hicks on 5 Jan 2014 #

    I’ve sometimes made my own ‘iPod edits’ of songs in the past to bring them down to a more listener-friendly length if no short radio edit is available – or sometimes if the radio edit cuts out the best parts of the song and I think I can do better.

    Tears for Fears ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ is an example of the former, and Leftfield’s ‘Release the Pressure’ the latter, bringing together the best bits of the Leftism album version and the vocal single edit a year later.

  14. 39
    wichitalineman on 6 Jan 2014 #

    Intriguing, Billy. Can we hear them?

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