Monkey - Single

Monkey - Single

“This was a white boy who could sing,” Billy Porter tells Apple Music about George Michael. “This was a white boy who really had soul. He wasn’t trying to be Black. He wasn’t trying to sound Black. You could hear the influence of Black music on him, but he wasn’t trying to be a Black person, which I think served him. It was like he was subliminally speaking to all of us through his music. There was an inherent sass.” It was that sass which led Porter to “Monkey”—the 1988 single he selected when asked to contribute to our George Michael Covered series. “There was an inherent sass in it that not a lot of men were doing,” he says. “I like the subversive energy of what it’s about because in the queer and gay scene back then, we used to try to alleviate some of the pain that was the AIDS crisis. We came together with the knowledge and the understanding that this little pill, this little ecstasy pill that we took, could transport us away. We were with our friends, we were with the community for the weekend, and then we could lock back in on Monday and go back to fight. And you know what happened, which is what happens very often with drugs, is that it went too far. I think the song just speaks to me in that way. It’s nonjudgmental and not about shaming. It’s about going, ‘I’ve got to move on now. I’ve got to be an adult and move on. I have to face all of the things. I have to hold space for the good stuff, and I have to hold space for the really complicated and awful stuff all at the same time.’ It all belongs, and that’s what life is. I chose that song as a subliminal message to all my people out there who might be struggling: ‘It’s OK, and it’ll be fine. Go and get yourself together because we got work to do and we have to be sober doing it.’”

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