“Father Figure” resides at the corner of love, desire, sadness and acceptance — it gives equal time to all four states of being. Like a lot of music critics, I’ve had to listen to an album or a song intently while writing about its considerable merits to the point that it no longer has those qualities — the overplaying exhausts the material of its potency.
Although plenty of pop songs hint at sex in slinky ways, most lack the crucial element of sexual intimacy that “Father Figure” inherently understands — legitimate kinkiness.
Even though I hadn’t had a girlfriend (or even kissed a girl yet), as I watched Kathleen and her new beau dancing close together, I realized that they were part of a world that was only theirs. George Michael’s perspective represented what it meant to be a man: powerful, sexual and comfortable navigating relationships.
At that 13-year-old moment, I suddenly understood that growing up meant embracing those surging hormones, while knowing there would be a price to pay for crossing that emotional threshold.
Her name was Kathleen, and this all took place at a junior high dance in 1988.
We were friends, but I had a horrible crush on her — which I kept to myself lest I upset the balance of our tiny little universe.