George Michael’s “Outside” is about freedom, self-expression, and a rebuttal to societal norms and scandal. It addresses Michael’s personal experiences and his arrest for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public restroom by an undercover police officer. The song, laced with irony and humor, suggests a celebration of love and desire unshackled by societal judgment. Michael’s lyrics depict the outdoors as a symbol of openness and liberation, contrasting with the confines and norms of indoor, domestic life.
The song is a powerful statement of defiance and self-acceptance, where Michael invites listeners to break free from judgment and experience life fully, embracing their true nature.
Feeling intrigued? Read how George Michael turned controversy into a bold statement of liberation and self-expression.
“Outside” Lyrics Meaning
George Michael’s “Outside” starts with an imagery contrasting nature and human nature. The song repeatedly talks about getting “back to nature,” signaling a return to our basic, uninhibited selves. The lines “I think I’m done with the sofa, I think I’m done with the hall, I think I’m done with the kitchen table, baby,” emphasize a desire to break free from the restrictions of domestic and ‘proper’ environments. He invites us to go “outside,” highlighting the theme of openness and freedom.
In the chorus, “Let’s go outside / In the sunshine / I know you want to, but you can’t say yes,” we can sense a nudge towards breaking free from societal restraints and norms that inhibit our true desires. It resonates with Michael’s experiences where society, and even law enforcement, had cast judgment on his lifestyle choices.
Then, the lyric “And yes I’ve been bad / Doctor won’t you do with me what you can,” might be referring to society’s attempt to ‘cure’ or ‘correct’ unconventional lifestyles or choices deemed as ‘bad,’ again a subtle nod to his personal encounters and reflections on societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals.
In the lyrics, “There’s nothing here but flesh and bone / There’s nothing more, nothing more,” Michael seems to convey a message about the essence of human nature, stripped of societal judgments and labels. Here, Michael is embracing and asserting his identity, unashamed and unabashedly.
Lastly, the song’s upbeat and danceable tune reinforces the celebratory tone, advocating for liberation from societal shackles and embracing one’s true human nature.
The Story Behind “Outside”
The song “Outside” was released in 1998, a pivotal period in George Michael’s life. It was written in response to his arrest earlier that year, which brought his sexuality to the forefront, inciting public discourse and media frenzy. Caught in the throes of controversy, Michael decided to respond, not with an apology or embarrassment but with wit, confidence, and a song dripping in irony.
Michael’s state of mind during this time was likely a mixture of frustration and defiance. The arrest and the subsequent public outing were invasive and could have been humiliating, but Michael chose to take control of the narrative, turning a moment of vulnerability into a statement of strength. He decided to address the issue openly, breaking the barriers of shame usually associated with such incidents.
The song has a sense of humor, a touch of rebellion, and an underlying message of self-acceptance and liberation. It paints a picture of his mind, where he is unwilling to bow down to societal pressure or conform to normative standards. “Outside” thus becomes a symbol of Michael’s refusal to be shamed for his sexuality, turning the tables on societal norms and embracing his true self with unabated pride.
The creation of “Outside” depicts Michael’s artistic journey during this phase of his life, revealing how he navigated through personal and public challenges by expressing his thoughts and emotions through music. This transformative period was crucial in shaping his career and solidifying his status as an unapologetic, fearless artist, whose work continues to resonate with many seeking liberation from societal constraints.