Meaning of “Careless Whisper” by George Michael and Wham!

“Careless Whisper” is a 1980s song about a lost love. It was released by the English singer-songwriter George Michael and the musical duo Wham! In the lyrics of “Careless Whisper”, the narrator/singer (Michael) laments about the loss of his relationship with his partner. The relationship in question came to an end after he had an affair with another woman. His betrayal leaves him heart-broken, lonely and full of regrets.

“So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you”

According to Michael, the cheating has also left him unable to “dance” with her like the way he used to. It is not clear whether the term “dance” is used literally or as a metaphor to refer to something he used to do with his partner.

The chorus is where the iconic line “I’m never gonna dance again, guilty feet have got no rhythm” appears. Here, the narrator is basically talking of how the tremendous guilt of his betrayal is preventing him from “dancing” again with his lover. Owing to the fact that his feet are guilty, they can’t dance. Why? According to him, guilty feet don’t possess the rhythm it takes to dance. This is surely one of the deepest lines the pop music world has ever seen!

On the whole, the narrator deeply regrets betraying that special person in his life. However, it’s too late. She’s gone, leaving him lonely and sad. Who I’m I going to dance with now? He asks himself as he wallows in regret, sadness and loneliness.

From the words of the song, it is not abundantly clear whether the narrator told his significant other about his unfaithfulness or she found it out by herself.

What does the term “careless whisper” mean?

The phrase “careless whisper” is a slang term that refers to something someone says without actually thinking about it. Simply put, it is unguarded talk.

Official music video for “Careless Whisper”

The official music video for this track, which was directed by Duncan Gibbins, was shot entirely in Miami, Florida. It features American actress and model Lisa Stahl. Lisa portrays the role of Michael’s betrayed girlfriend, who abandons him because of his affair. In a 2009 interview with Q magazine, Lisa revealed that she and Michael had to shoot the kissing scene twice. Why? Because the producers somehow lost the first footage of the scene involving the pair kissing.

 

Facts about “Careless Whisper”

  • The members of Wham! (George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley) wrote this iconic ballad. That said, it’s important to state that Michael wrote the majority of the song. He was also Wham!’s primary songwriter.
  • Michael was just 17 years old when he penned this classic tune. He said he wrote the song while he was aboard a bus heading towards work.
  • “Careless Whisper” was produced solely by Michael.
  • The song was released for the first time on July 24, 1984. It was the second single from Wham!’s second studio album Make It Big. However, outside America, the song was released as a solo single by George Michael. It went on to become the very first breakaway single of Michael’s solo career.
  • Despite the song being very instrumental in establishing Michael’s solo career, he said it wasn’t very close to his heart. In a People magazine interview, Michael said he was “fed up” with the song.
  • As of 2018, the single had sold over 6 million copies around the world. Owing to this, it is considered one of the most successful singles of all time. It peaked at number one in over two dozen countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

Is “Careless Whisper” an autobiographical song?

The lyrics of this song are often assumed to be autobiographical. According to the stories, Michael wrote the song about a time in his teenage life when he was dating multiple girls at the same time. However, this isn’t true. The lyrics are purely fiction. Michael himself state the song’s lyrics are nothing short of a work of fiction.

Who played the saxophone solo on “Careless Whisper”?

One of the major highlights of this classic song is its legendary saxophone line. It was played by English jazz saxophonist Steve Gregory. Besides working with George Michael, Gregory has worked with the likes of Queen, Freddie King and The Animals.

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I recall hearing in an interview that GM said he changed one word of the lyric that changed the song. What was that word? I’ve never figured it out.

  2. Chucho says:

    I figured it out. it’s
    Danced=F#$ck
    The whole song makes total sense now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous I hope you are being sarcastic because chucho is full of s–t! He just being a d–k trying to be funny.

  4. David says:

    My ex wife selected this song as our wedding dance song. A strange choice that I didn’t really comprehend at the time. Must have been an omen though.

  5. Rick says:

    I used to sing this to my gf on the dance floor in 1989 as we slow danced to this song. She left me a year later to start seeing her ex bf. I was devastated. I found her again 2 1/2 years later and took her back because she remembered me singing this song to her and realized she made a mistake and still loved me. We got back together for 5 1/2 more years but she left again after we were having arguments about what direction we should go in our lives. And I was devastated again. And remained that way for 25 years. She in a few months found someone new and was with him for me yesterday years and she left him too. Years later her life fell apart. I still thought of her every day since the day we had first met. I found her again by looking up her phone number and I said don’t you understand? I’ve been in love with you for 36 YEARS. YOU ARE the love of my life and you need to be with me! She said it was so long ago. I said I KNOW YOU LOVE ME. there’s no way you don’t. You never should have left. And she didn’t want to talk to me because her life was a mess. But I didn’t know that. I kept calling. And one day I realized what I needed to do. I remember all the things I k ow she could only have done for me if she loved me, and I told her all the things I remember. I finally got her to truly want to communicate with me because I said please listen to me for 3 minutes. I said if in 3 minutes you say you don’t love me anymore I’ll go. Will you give me 3 minutes? She begrudgingly say oh alright what? I sang careless whisper to her over the phone. I could hear her sobbing. She said you’re right. I do love you. And she agreed to meet with me. I met her where we first made love 36 years ago. And I brought with me the Christmas stocking that she had made for me in 1989 where she wrote my name on it with glue and glitter. And I said do you recognize this?? And she looked at it bewilderingly for a moment trying to understand why it had her own handwriting. Then it dawned on her. She said oh my god! I remember now. I made this for you! And I said yes I saved this all these years. I’ve loved you for more than half my life. You have to be with me. And for over a year now we have been trying to be together. I’m 55 and she just turned 56. We were last together when I was 29 and she had just turned 30. This time of year hurts me very much because she left me right before Christmas 1996. And it always broke my heart every Christmas. I tried move on. Tried have other girlfriends over the years, but I bonded to her forever so long ago. We were best friends and lovers an the intimacy was just too too much. I could never love anyone but her. And it’s why I had to find her. I’m still waiting to hear her say she was wrong. That she’s sorry she ever left me.sorry she betrayed us. Sorry TIU Then I can start the long process of healing. Today is her birthday. I got cone ffc FCC

  6. Joe D says:

    I feel your pain Rick.
    I just hit year number 7 without the only one I truly ever loved.
    It was November 2015 and we went out and did a paint and wine class together.
    A typically fun normal evening together turned into the first day of the beginning of the end.
    No cheating and no violence was involved, but we realized that we should not be together.
    I think about Emily every single day.
    I loved her and still do with every inch of my soul.
    So you’re not alone Rick.
    All you can do is show her how much she means to you.
    And tell her that too.
    Tell her daily.
    I wish you the very best with your situation.
    You seem like a genuinely kind soul.

    And ps, I still have that painting we did together that night hanging over my bed.
    It’s been up there for 7 years and I have no intention of taking it down.
    7 long years. I love you Em

  7. Joe D says:

    I feel your pain Rick.
    I just hit year number 7 without the only one I truly ever loved.
    It was November 2015 and we went out and did a paint and wine class together.
    A typically fun normal evening together turned into the first day of the beginning of the end.
    No cheating and no violence was involved, but we realized that we should not be together.
    I think about Emily every single day.
    I loved her and still do with every inch of my soul.
    So you’re not alone Rick.
    All you can do is show her how much she means to you.
    And tell her that too.
    Tell her daily.
    I wish you the very best with your situation.
    You seem like a genuinely kind soul.
    I’m sorry this isn’t a Careless Whisper story, but reading yours made me want to reply

    And ps, I still have that painting we did together that night hanging over my bed.
    It’s been up there for 7 years and I have no intention of taking it down.
    7 long years. I love you Em

  8. Glenn from Detroit says:

    Wow! I came here because I never quite knew what those lyrics meant but I didn’t expect Rick and Joe to make me feel like I was going to cry.
    Well said Brothers!
    All I can say is the fact that you both have deep love in your hearts is worth all the emotions that you have endured since. On the other hand you could have empty emotionless souls if you had never met these girls who still haven’t realized who truly loves them. The most painful part is that you can’t MAKE them love you. My thoughts are with you.

  9. C.C says:

    For Rick & Joe.
    I’m curious to know how you both are doing. My husband & I were childhood sweethearts. I got pregnant at a early age & had our daughter in March of 1989 (which I guess is one reason I was drawn to your story Rick) He left to go back to his family, hours away because he had no one to help him or show him how to be a young father & do the right things. We ended up meeting back up 16 years later & he met his daughter for the first time. The moment we looked into each other’s eyes, those feelings fired right back up. We had always had each other’s heart. We’ve been married for 17 years now. We truly know not many people feel or get to know the kind of love we have for each other. We are each other’s world. I love him more & more every day & he feels the same. The term “better half” can only be understood when there’s a real connection & bond. In every aspect of our lives together, we have the other one when one of us is down, the other brings us up. I really hope you get your true love back Rick.

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