WHAM! – MAKE IT BIG
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There are a lot of things that can remind a person of Wham! For me, the top two are the movie The Wedding Singer and my friend Karen. Odd is it may be, a road trip with Karen in 2006 is what Wham! makes me reminisce about. I wish I could say 80’s pop culture and crushes on gay guys which led to the lifelong tragedy of falling in love with gay men–but alas, I am only brought back to 2006, and my life’s tragedy is not Wham’s fault.
Karen and I met while working at Whole Foods in Seattle. We didn’t know each other yet, and she invited me out to breakfast. What an unusual and awesome first hang-out! Over eggs, I told her I was going on a road trip at the end of the summer. She queried me with outrageous questions like, “Where are you going?” and “Who are you going with?” To both questions, I replied, “I dunno.” And then, out of some weird 80’s movie, I asked her if she wanted to drive across the country with me. And she said yes! Boy, what a start to a friendship!
We decided to leave after Labor Day (we made time and a half for working that holiday). We had an unbelievably exciting route ahead of us… Portland, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, Utah, Denver, Chicago, etc. It will either be amazing or horrible on a trip with a friend. There’s no “it was okay”. And you just never know until you’re out doing it. But I have to say, it was pretty special becoming someone’s friend on a trip. We barely knew each other at all!
One of my favorite parts of the trip was finding out how Karen loves “favorite parts”. She would put a song on and skip to her favorite part. Example: in Elton John’s “Levon”, we would skip to the end of the chorus where he sings “he shall be Levon” because Elton sounds like Cher and it’s really funny. Example: in Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, we would get super excited when he sings the chorus right before modulating and he says “better place” all goofy (2:50 in). This isn’t about making fun of music. This is ultimate appreciation. We love these songs! But we really love our favorite parts.
I had never thought anything of Wham! before this trip. But we really had to exhaust our CDs and playlists on this trip. We were driving around for over two weeks. So Karen put Wham’s “Careless Whisper” on. Now, at first listen, I thought, “Isn’t this the theme song to a soap opera?” And then, “Why the fuck are we listening to this garbage?” And then, man I just fell in love with how ridiculous the song is. That saxophone solo is pretty much the quintessential 80’s sax solo. You were nothing without a great sax solo! And that became my favorite part! Also, I loved singing the chorus with Karen… “So I’m never gonna dance again/the way I danced with you.” The lyrics are ridiculous and George Michael is so serious about not getting to dance with someone again! And I’m just not confident about thinking it’s a metaphor.
George Michael, you delicious genius! I love “Careless Whisper”, but it’s time to say…
Goodbye, Make It Big.