Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen was one of my very first super bands.

After picking up “Live Killers” at the Meijer Superstore and bringing it home I was captivated by the music, the vibe and the voice of Freddie Mercury. I listened to that album endlessly and based on the songs on it that I loved I went back and bought the older albums.

“Queen” – “Queen II” – “Sheer Heart Attack” – “A Night At The Opera” – “A Day At The Races” – “News Of The World” – “Jazz”

I played all of these and loved them, even the early ones, but focused mainly on Sheer Heart Attack, News Of The World and Jazz.

When  “The Game” came out I naturally fell in love with “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Little Thing Called Love”. I ran out and bought the silvery covered album and gave it a spin. I was for the first time a bit hot and cold on a Queen album. There were utterly fantastic songs, but for me, there were some of the weakest songs I had heard from them. As a Queen fan though, I had to take it in stride.

It was only when they did the “Flash Gordon Soundtrack” (which I bought and could only get through once) that I questioned the direction of Queen.

Then came “Hot Space”. I remember buying it and loving “Body Language” and “Under Pressure” but for the life of me I can’t recall a single other song on it. I’m pretty sure it was the last Queen album I ever bought.

Still, when they played Live Aid in 1985, I was glued to my tv. I was living in Milwaukee going to school there and I’m pretty sure I skipped class to watch Queen and Bowie. Queen did Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. It was utterly amazing. I was setting up to record Bowie while they were playing wishing I had set it up earlier. This sparked another Queen surge for me and I revisited all the old albums I owned ( I had definitely gotten rid of “Flash Gordon” and “Hot Space”) and loved them all over again.

When “Wayne’s World” (1992) came out and they re-beat “Bohemian Rhapsody” to death on the radio and despite loving the song back in the day now I can barely tolerate it. I know it is a great song, but man, they have SO many other great songs. For me, “Bohemian Rhapsody” lies right next to “Stairway To Heaven” in the hall of great songs that I have heard enough for a lifetime.

When I hit my vinyl buying days again some years back I found my batch of old records and “Queen – News Of The World” was among them, and I soon found “Queen – Jazz” used somewhere and re-loved Queen all over again.

I even ordered the CD of “Queen – Live Killers” that had all started it for me.

I reveal all this in an effort to give you my history with Queen prior to going to see the film “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

I knew the sad story of Freddie Mercury and his unfortunate illness and death, but I didn’t know much about the history of the band and I was excited to see the movie. I had heard that the critics were not that hot on it, but I still wanted to see it.

It was SO great.

Yes, there was a lot of sadness in it, Freddie was complicated, but there was great celebration of him, his voice and the music they all made together and I loved it.

…and I learned a few things.

The first was that Freddie Mercury was Pakistani. Is this a credit to me that I never noticed, or am I just dense? I don’t know. I knew that there was something different about his mouth (extra teeth) but had no idea about this.

The second, I didn’t remember that Freddie had a solo album. Though once I looked it up I remembered seeing the cover at some point.

“Freddie Mercury – Mr. Bad Guy”

The film was very revealing about his personal life obviously. As I said there was a lot of sadness, but in the end you see the Live Aid performance and a triumphant moment for Freddie and the whole band and I have no doubt whatever Queen fans think of Freddie and his private life, not a one could help but feel the power and energy of that show.

There was simple text on-screen about the death of Freddie and the people he left behind. Simple and direct, without preaching or condemnation. Then there was some footage of the real Freddie and band as the credits rolled. It brought a smile to my face after all of it to see the real Freddie perform.

Sometimes you can learn too much about someone and it tarnishes or breaks the image you have of them (Neil Peart) and  I can say that after seeing this movie I feel like I know Freddie and the band much more than I did and I appreciate Queen even a bit more.

I may give some of the albums past “Hot Space” a second chance.

but…

I still can’t listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

That’s on you radio.

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