As a journalist and host of the ABC’s ethics and faith based program Compass, Kumi Taguchi has a passion for life’s important questions. She has a drive to open up conversations and perspectives on how our actions, thoughts and beliefs all add colour and contours to the bigger picture.
She says the need for greater understanding and larger frameworks was already apparent for her at the age of 14.
“It was late high school, that age where you are starting to think more outside of your own world and starting to look at that bigger picture,” Kumi says. “I was so receptive to, and wanting to be fed with more challenging ideas, I guess.”
An epic emotional plea to humanity by George Michael from his second solo album was the stimulation she was seeking.
“It was such a quiet, slow, sad song,” Kumi says of the song, ‘Praying For Time’. “And it was the lead track on Listen Without Prejudice, which I think was quite revolutionary. Often that first track is the one you know is going to be a hit and it’s got lots of energy. It was actually such a brave more and an incredible song.
“He’s talking about how we’ve lost this sense of humanity and he’s got these great lyrics like ‘this is the year of the hungry man who’s place is in the past, hand in hand with ignorance and legitimate excuses’ and ‘charity is a coat you wear twice a year’.
“We just do it on the outside every now and then to make us feel like we’re connecting with people but we’re really not. He’s basically saying we’ve lost our way as human beings and the only thing now that I can hope for is that time will bring us back to a place where we’re meant to be.”
She recalls monopolising the one tape player in her boarding school dormitory and forcing everybody to listen to the song. She pushed them to understand the message of the lyrics, the musicianship and the way the singer was using his voice to convey the emotional shifts in the song. She was evangelical about the song.
She isn’t alone in her love of ‘Praying For Time’. Many George Michael fans were tweeting lyrics to the song when the news of his sudden passing came to light last year.
“I felt most sad because he died alone,” Kumi says. “I just had this sense of, ‘what is a life?’”
It’s a powerful question, something Kumi has taken enthusiastic strides in her personal and professional life to gather deeper understanding on, through asking and pondering the many different possibilities.
You can see why ‘Praying For Time’ means so much to her. It’s epic in scope but coming from a personal place, big on melody but uneasy and restless energetically, and through its yearning lyrics, continues to ask us to examine the bigger picture and our humanity.