Tanya Coleridge sashaying down the ramp with an uninhibited confidence; Tanya Coleridge winking seductively; Tanya Coleridge crossing a turnstile and hiring a taxi. Tanya Coleridge….
George Michael with a grotesque piece of jewelry dangling from his ear and a cool pair of sunglasses covering his eyes, lent bohemia a bold and licentious meaning with his pop-gospel balladry when he introduced the world to “Father Figure.” A renegade, a rebellious gay and an eccentric when it came to purveying a particular brand of music, George Michael had a fantastic perpetrator in crime, in the form of the sensual Tanya Coleridge when he pushed this phenomenal and controversial song down the alley of his friends and foes alike. Commencing with a confession and having libelous undertones, “Father Figure” is almost akin to cocking a snook at received wisdom and conventional mores. You can feel George Michael showing his finger to the world while he croons to a lilting music that has an indelible haunt to it.
But the genius of George Michael required the daring of the beautiful Tanya Coleridge to convey his message of impetuosity and impunity. “For just one moment/To be bold and naked/At your side”, could not have been even a remote possibility without the bold and arresting Tanya Coleridge. Irresistibly carnal and inimitably metaphysical at the same time, “Father Figure” is a paean to purity and a homily to the peculiarity. It is celebrating the characteristics of fidelity, while also spurring on a venture into the realms of promiscuity. There is not even a blurring line between the pure and the derisive. Right and wrong coalesce into a confounding kaleidoscope of choice and action. Is “Father Figure” incestuous? In my personal opinion, it does not even come remotely close to being ascribed that damning label. Is it against conventional mores? Of course! When compared to some of the controversial melodies churned out by the likes of Prince, “Father Figure”, doesn’t even come close to ascending the rungs of the controversial ladder of provocation. At the same time it is not as docile as the Christmas melodies dished out by its own creator either. So what ground does this fabulous piece of music occupy and claim?
Absolutely nothing! “Father Figure” lays claims to neither oeuvre nor stereotype. It is just an unashamed homage to the fragilities and foibles of mankind. A tribute that is conveyed by a combination of cathartic vocal chords and a curvaceous figure. “Father Figure” asserts that it is perfectly acceptable to err on the side of audacity. Atonement is just a choice. The cross that hangs from George Michael’s ear is not a symbol of confession but a sign of incredulous defiance. As is every twist, turn and tantalizing wink of the marvelous Tanya Coleridge.
While George Michael may have given his adoring legion of fans a raft of mellifluous hits, nothing compares to the electric fervour and tension of “Father Figure.” George Michael’s own contradictions and dilemma in an age that was inclined to look at gay libertarianism more as a counterculture than an accepted way of life, finds full disclosure in “Father Figure.” In fact in an interview that Tanya Coleridge gave years after the video was made, she admitted that it was extremely difficult for George Michael to enact the intimate scenes in the song. The tug and push of his homosexuality was putting up a screen of defiance between the uber talented singer and the magnificent model. It is ample testimony to Tanya Coleridge’s brilliance and accommodation that allowed George Michael to complete the shooting.
In a follow up album ‘Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1’, George Michael pulled off a veritable coup by gathering a bevy of jaw dropping beauties, including Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, and Christy Turlington. While each one of them acted as a consummate foil to the gay predilections of the immortal singer, none of them could even hold a candle to the exuberance, enthusiasm, and effervescence of Tanya Coleridge.
“Father Figure” was and continues to be a taboo and a Teutonic statement. A statement conjured by the dynamic duo of Tanya Coleridge and George Michael. A combination that stands for resistance, evokes resilience, and restores confidence in humanity.
Thank you, Tanya Coleridge!
Thank you, George Michael. Sleep Well Legend!