George Michael gives a tutorial on how to write a song in fascinating video from 1990

16 April 2021, 16:02

Filmed at a recording studio in 1990, George Michael explains the step-by-step process of how he records the music and what goes into making a track.
Filmed at a recording studio in 1990, George Michael explains the step-by-step process of how he records the music and what goes into making a track. Picture: George Michael/YouTube/RocKofNine

By Giorgina Hamilton

George Michael showed off his song writing, mixing and recording skills in an incredible video of the star composing 'Waiting for That day' in 1990.

George Michael was once called “the greatest songwriter of his generation” by Elton John.

Often lauded as one of the great musical talents of the 20th and 21st centuries, a new video shows exactly how the star wrote his 1990 hit 'Waiting for That Day'.

See more: George Michael's 20 greatest songs ever, ranked

Filmed at a recording studio in 1990, George Michael explains the step-by-step process of how he records the music and what goes into making a track.

George Michael, pictured in the studio in 1990, was once called “the greatest songwriter of his generation” by Elton John.
George Michael, pictured in the studio in 1990, was once called “the greatest songwriter of his generation” by Elton John. Picture: George Michael/YouTube/RocKofNine
The former Wham! star defines the inspiration behind the song and how he mixed a sample of James Brown's music with traditional folk music
The former Wham! star defines the inspiration behind the song and how he mixed a sample of James Brown's music with traditional folk music. Picture: George Michael/YouTube/RocKofNine

See more: 8 times George Michael stunned strangers with private acts of charity

The former Wham! star defines the inspiration behind the song and how he mixed a sample of James Brown's music with traditional folk music to get his 1990's hot song, 'Waiting for That Day''s unique sound.

The video shows George Michael expertly travelling around a mixing desk as he speaks passionately about his music-making process, accompanied by footage of him recording the song's vocals in a sound booth.

See more: When George Michael kissed Madonna live on stage at the 1989 MTV Awards

'Waiting for That Day' became the second single from the singer's album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1.

Whilst George wrote the track alone, the rhythm is similar to The Rolling Stones' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want': the title was included at the end of the track and co-writer credit was given to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

See more: George Michael's 'Freedom': Supermodels recall intimate moments and 'naughty' antics from video shoot

As he explains in the video, the song also contains samples from the song 'Funky Drummer' by James Brown, a sample that George says: "Has now become the most well-used drum track of all time."

'Waiting for That Day' became the second single from the singer's album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Pictured, George Michael recording the song's lyrics in 1990.
'Waiting for That Day' became the second single from the singer's album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Pictured, George Michael recording the song's lyrics in 1990. Picture: George Michael/YouTube/RocKofNine
The video comes just four years after George Michael last Wham! and branched out on his own as a solo star. Pictured, Wham!'s George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley backstage on their farewell concert 'The Final' at Wembley Stadium on June 26, 1986
The video comes just four years after George Michael last Wham! and branched out on his own as a solo star. Pictured, Wham!'s George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley backstage on their farewell concert 'The Final' at Wembley Stadium on June 26, 1986. Picture: Getty

"I had this idea of taking that particular drum track and placing something completely different and out of context on top of it."

See more: The incredible night George Michael went undercover to watch his impersonator

George then places a guitar folk track over the James Brown sample, mixes the two, "adds a little bit of base" and the foundations of 'Waiting for That Day' is born.

The video comes just four years after George Michael last Wham! and branched out on his own as a solo star.

See more: George Michael facts: Singer's age, songs, family, partner and death explained

The star's first solo single, 'Careless Whisper', reached number one is over 20 countries and has sold over 6 million copies and his 1987 debut album Faith topped the UK chart and stayed at number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks and was awarded Album of the Year at the 1989 Grammy Awards.

See more: Moment George Michael first locks eyes with ‘future soulmate’ in audience while singing Careless Whisper

'Waiting for That Day' was featured on Michael's 1990 album number one Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1.

In 2004, the UK Radio Academy named George Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
In 2004, the UK Radio Academy named George Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004. Picture: Getty

See more: Forgotten loves of George Michael, Freddie Mercury and Elton John: The secret women they loved

The album included the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles 'Praying for Time' and in 1991 George Michael and Elton John released the transatlantic number one single, 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me', a 1991 duet with Elton John.

In 2004, the UK's Radio Academy announced George Michael was the most played artist on British radio during the period of 1984–2004.

See more: When George Michael was exposed on This Morning as secret £50,000 donor who sent needy kids to Lapland

Speaking about how he wrote his songs, George always said most songwriting happened first in his mind.

"I compose in my head usually," the star said in an interview with No.1 Magazine in April 1985.

See more: George Michael behind the scenes: Pictures of the off-duty star in his early years

"I used to compose that way because I didn’t have a tape machine. I wrote all the melody lines to ‘Careless Whisper’ just sitting on a bus. I always write things in my head, let them go around in my head, then I forget about them.

The star's first solo single, 'Careless Whisper', reached number one is over 20 countries and has sold over 6 million copies .
The star's first solo single, 'Careless Whisper', reached number one is over 20 countries and has sold over 6 million copies . Picture: Getty

See more: Remembering the night George Michael gave free concert for NHS nurses: "Undervalued heroes"

"Later I come back to them and if the ideas are still there I know that they are commercial and that I like them."

The young star went on to explain he felt songwriting should be kept simple: "When I first got a record contract I bought all the equipment that I thought I should use, but when I looked back later at ‘Fantastic’ I realised that all the best tracks were the ones that I had made up in my head, so I went back to that for the new album," he said.

See more: When George Michael and Pavarotti sang a spine-tingling duet of 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me'

"I would hum the melody lines and the bass lines to myself again and again and then once they were cemented in my mind and I knew them off by heart I would go down to the studio with the musicians, get them to play the songs on the keyboards or the bass, telling them the feel that I wanted, and then I’d fill it all in after that."