Artists’ faith and George Michael

One of my favorite pieces by Bob Lefsetz is the one written shortly after George Michael passed away. It’s a letter that is raw in the same, patent way that Lefsetz usually writes, but to me it is also expressed in a way that a computer would have an extremely difficult time understanding what’s being sad. That said, it would have no problem repeating something similar to it. 

While the rest of the world jumps through the hoops to get to a safe place, our artists walk into the wilderness without a safety net and out of thin air create diamonds that shine forever. 

Lefsetz’s letter about George Michael is about the id of the artist — the mythical desire to beat all odds in a humanlike way where by all means they should lose, and yet you still root for them. 

Music, when done right, is undeniable. It doesn’t matter what the critics say, it doesn’t matter what you believed yesterday, it doesn’t matter what your friends have to say, you’re immediately infected, the sound just makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, makes you glad to be alive.

Lefsetz Letter

Very few succeed. It’s a team effort. Talent is not enough.

He sued Sony.

The judge said no, my sources said yes, that the allegations were true.

But it doesn’t matter. Michael was out of the scene for too long, his label was no longer behind him, and if you think you can make it with non-believers, if you think you can make it with nobody at all, you’ve never been inside the belly of the beast, you’ve never been in the fame game.

Very few succeed. It’s a team effort. Talent is not enough.

It was over.

Lefsetz Letter

The well-adjusted do not succeed. We are not looking for normal people. We’re looking for those willing to sacrifice everything to reflect our humanity back upon us, to satiate us, to make us whole.

The well-adjusted do not succeed. We are not looking for normal people. We’re looking for those willing to sacrifice everything to reflect our humanity back upon us, to satiate us, to make us whole.

Like George Michael.

He needed to create. In a world where there’s no path. This is not engineering, this is not medicine. While the rest of the world jumps through the hoops to get to a safe place, our artists walk into the wilderness without a safety net and out of thin air create diamonds that shine forever. How do they do this? Lord only knows. If the label could figure it out, they would, because they hate dealing with the mercurial, unpredictable artists who have to do it their way. But history is littered with stories where the artists knew best. But today, the fat cats want to buy insurance, they want you to co-write, use their go-to people, because the investment is too great and they don’t like the odds.

But when George Michael started he didn’t care about the odds. He didn’t care about being ripped-off, he just needed to do it. With a desire so strong that he broke through, his name was on everybody’s lips.

Lefsetz Letter

Music is about freedom. In a world where we’re being told what to do constantly, where the haves are making war on the have-nots, where ignorance rules, we must look to artists for guidance, for a way out.

But we try.

It’s too late to save George Michael from falling, but know he did it for you. To see your reaction, to see the effect of his music upon you, that’s why they all do it, the money is secondary.

Music is about freedom. In a world where we’re being told what to do constantly, where the haves are making war on the have-nots, where ignorance rules, we must look to artists for guidance, for a way out.

Let George Michael be our father figure.

Let him illustrate that the chains are in your mind, that you can pivot, that you can be the real you.

Don’t let the sun go down on you.

Because losing everything is what happened to George Michael.

And that just isn’t right.

Lefsetz Letter

How to talk machine is one thing, and how machines talk to us is another (rising concern). But how humans talk to humans is something special that artists know how to do in new ways that we need to always pay attention to — I’ll be redoubling my efforts. The Lefsetz Letters continue to inspire me, and you can subscribe to them here. —JM

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