There are but a few emblems in a person’s life that so capture a moment, such that, when we smell the smell, or hear the tune, or see the image, we are, in an instant, transported back in time. And, in that instant, all the feelings that we held back then begin to bubble up and we feel them again, just as we felt them in the moment recalled. So, for me, is George Michael’s Freedom! ’90. And, even more so, the accompanying video with Super Models Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Tatiana Patitz. That video was everything to me when it was released in 1990.
We were entering a new decade, shaking off the hangover of the excess and indulgence of the ’80s Dynasty/Falcon Crest glam, hitting full out Super Model stride, and blissfully unaware of the ensuing schism with the Kate Moss/Nirvana/Seattle grunge movement that ultimately would come to define the ’90s. And, I was a teenager just coming of age and beginning to develop my own sense of style. Such an incredible moment in every person’s life.
Freedom! ’90 romanticizes the freedom that accompanies authenticity – especially in appearance. A sort of bonfire of the vanities, the video literally explodes Michael’s own personal emblems (his leather jacket and guitar – from the Faith video), as Michael tells us in the lyrics that he’s rejecting that facade for a more authentic self and is happier for it. He implores us to embrace his authenticity. Is it a wonder that the grunge movement was lurking behind the next door?
And, I think George was trying to tell us something that we all knew but maybe excoriated him for later? Which I think was unfair.
But, the video. The video is as amazing to me today as it was the day that I waited for and watched the world premier on MTV (back in the day of the V.J.). From Naomi’s mermaid silhouette dancing in the doorway, to Linda Evangelista’s triple pierced ears with tiny silver hoops and her blue eye shadow, to Cindy Crawford, sitting on a chair in the bathroom, flipping her hair up in the towel . . . O.M.G. DY. ING. And, all the ’80s/’90s imagery – the C.D. (still relatively new in 1990), the CD stereo with the dual cassette deck, the phone cord, the cigarettes . . . wow!
Rest in peace, George. So sad to have lost yet another musical great this year.
On this last Friday of 2016, take a moment to indulge yourself with a step back in time . . .