Queen, Freddie Mercury, and The Imprint of Bohemian Rhapsody

Faultless sound of beauty, and ageless instrumentalists with a style that could never be replicated.  Queen will forever be a revolutionary group that changed history with their strong, powerful, and steady voices, their ability to write hit songs individually and as a group, and their support and protection they give one another as a group, individuals, and as artists is something to admire.

Queen was composed of Brian May (guitarist), Roger Taylor (drummer), John Deacon (bassist), and Freddie Mercury (pianist/ lead vocals). These four men became Queen in 1971.  In 1973, they were signed to EMI Records and Elektra Records.  In the same year, Queen released their debut album ‘Queen.’  Their debut album was hailed one of the most exciting developments ever in rock music.  It received a rave review from Rolling Stones Magazine that called them “…the first of a whole new wave of English rockers, and you’d best learn to love ’em now’ cause they’re here to stay. Regal bearings aside, Queen is a monster.”

In 1975, Queen released their second album ‘A Night at the Opera’, which was the album that brought us the classic Bohemian Rhapsody.  This unusual six minute suite was comprised of an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part, and a reflective coda, but no chorus. May, Taylor, and Mercury sang their vocal parts ten to twelve hours a day.  A hard, fast, and strong dedication to a work that was fully penned by Mercury.  Brian May said, “Bohemian Rhapsody was Freddie’s baby…We just helped him bring it to life.”  It took three weeks to record, the opera parts took more than seventy hours to complete, and one hundred and eighty overdubs were needed to track the recording we hear today.  In an article in the New York Times the producer, Roy Thomas Baker said, “The thing that makes it most ageless is the fact that it didn’t confine to any given genre of music. It doesn’t compete with anything. It’s in a world of its own.”

The record label didn’t want to release Bohemian Rhapsody as a single unless it was shortened because they believed it wouldn’t be a hit.  The band collectively refused to shorten it because they felt it would change the work.  Can you seriously image shortening that song?  The radio DJs and listeners ended up making the song a hit and proving the record labels wrong.  British DJ Kenny Everett received a copy of the song and played it on Capital Radio.  Everett played the song fourteen times in two days due to audience demands.  I think Everett was right when he said, “…it could be a half an hour long, it’s going to be number one for centuries.”  Bohemian Rhapsody topped the United Kingdom (UK) charts for nine weeks and sold more than a million copies by 1976.  The song peaked at number nine in the United States (U.S.) in 1976, which is insanity to me!  It reached number one again in the UK in 1991 upon Mercury’s death and number two in the U.S. with the release of the film Wayne’s World.  In 2004 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Queen was full of artists that I haven’t seen in today’s industry.  They were a talented group of songwriters that all penned number one hits to their legacy.  They understood that taking a chance and truly opening yourself up to the world is a risk that can and will be rewarded if you are brave enough to let people see your vulnerable side.  Queen was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.

I wonder what Queen would have created had Freddie Mercury not passed away in 1991.  His vocal talents extending from bass in low F to soprano in high F is rare.  His ability to pen hits like A Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, We Are the Champions, and Bohemian Rhapsody leaves me in awe every time I hear them.  Mercury was the flash.  The theatrical entertainer that made the live shows an experience.  I know I’m a week late, but September 5th was Freddie Mercury’s birthday as well as the yearly tradition of ‘Freddie for a day.’  On this day, the Mercury Phoenix Trust celebrates the life of the legendary Freddie Mercury, and continues to support the ongoing mission of finding a cure for AIDS.  People dress up as Freddie all over the world to help raise funds on this day through sponsorships.  Let’s continue to remember the man and the legend on this day, and to never forget the work and artistry that these four men shared with the world through all that is Queen.


A Soundtrack for the Boston Transportation from Hell

FeenyMatthewsRollercoasterThis past week has been the most stressful for the city of Boston because of the public transit being in complete disarray, the national guard coming to help clear out the massive amounts of snow (FYI there is no where to put it), and the amount of inhumanity I have seen in a long time; all in one week.  Needless to say, I have been spending an exorbitant amount of time on the public transit where lately it takes me about two and half hours to get work and another two and half hours to get home.  I have learned that my kindle is my godsend and my iPod is my savor; they have both gotten a workout trying to keep me sane.  For those of you who don’t live in Boston, the commute is comparable to the reaction of George Feeny and Corey Matthews in “Boy Meets World” after they ride a death defying roller coaster.  Basically an entire city speechless and wanting to scream…a lot.

On my lovely commute, I have had a lot of time to spend in my head.  Have you ever had the music you are listening to become the soundtrack of your life, and you create this giant story line in your head from the people you meet throughout the day, then base everything on the lyrics and music on your playlist?  Fall Out Boy’s new album “American Beauty/ American Psycho” has done just that.  Fall Out Boy’s catalog has been in my music selection since their first album in 2003 “Take This to Your Grave.”  Patrick Stump has a voice that you can get lost in and the band has become inventive with playing with voice pitches during choruses and harmonies as well as connecting with the digital synth technology and combining that with their rock sound makes for an edge to their new album.

The trumpet type sound that comes in on “Irresistible” creates a powerhouse introduction on what to expect is going to be big, and in Boston’s case it’s a transportation war.  Stump sings, “Too many war wounds and not enough wars, Too few rounds in the ring and not enough settled scores.”  As a city drowns in snow the day must go on even though it has been a constant struggle to get to work or home, but this city is full of fighters and as this thought rolls through my head “Immortal” begins to play.  Stump says “Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith, Is when it’s tested again and again everyday” and with this line I see an old women get pushed over at a shuttle stop.  As I helped her up it brought me to a realization that you can be someone’s superhero by having compassion and even for a moment you can be immortal.  As my shuttle commute came to an end “Favorite Record” began to play, and as the guitar came in it reminded me of dancing with my friends at home this past Christmas to old school hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll, which made my frustration subside for a moment.  The thought of a simple moment in time can make you laugh no matter how bad your day has been and bring you to a moment of peace.

Fall Out Boy, you showed me that music can bring you out of the dark, gave me a soundtrack that brought me back from the edge of this horrible transportation week, and are continuing to push the boundaries of your music through new technologies, power brass instruments, and lyrics that brought me back to a place of humanity. “You were the song stuck in my head.  Every song I’ver ever loved, played again and again.”

Click Here for American Beauty/ American Psycho!