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26 November 2010 @ 08:01 pm
Bp's Song of the Week 101: Queen "Who Wants to Live Forever" (live)  
At this time in 1991, I was caught up in Rush’s Roll the Bones CD and still flying off the high of seeing them live in Rochester on Oct. 26 with my best friend, Roshni. I was a Senior in High School busy with college prep, schoolwork, tackling the Yearbook as a side-project, learning to 10-finger type, Basketball practice at night (I would lose my starting position on the team when Rush re-scheduled a show in Hartford and I opted for the Canadian Trio over the team), two musical groups, and the normal trapping of High School. When I saw the announcement on MTV of Freddie Mercury’s death on November 24, 1991, I thought of the cassette single (remember those?) of “I Want it All” and that’s probably it. I was burned out on “Bohemian Rhapsody” after the popularity surge from Wayne’s World – I loved the song prior to that, but the over-playing killed it for me. Of course I knew of the game-time anthems, but that’s all they really were at that time.

If my memory is correct, on the night of the live simulcast of the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert from London in April 1992, I was in the bustling metropolis of Oneonta with friends Matt, Greg, and George – at least I remember hearing parts of the broadcast in Matt’s car so I think that’s correct. I also remember recording Def Leppard’s portion of the show from MTV which might have been earlier in the day or during their re-broadcast. I was recording it and psyched for their appearance because it was the first live performance with the new boy Vivian Campbell, who was replacing Steve Clark who had passed in January 1991. I remember Joe Elliot introducing Brian May as “the man with the curly hair and the curly guitar lead” as they dove into “Now I’m Here” which I’d never heard before. I didn’t really care that much as I just wanted to hear more Leppard with Campbell (having been a fan of Dio during the Vivian years).

It must have been in subsequent broadcasts that I saw more of the show…I remember George Michael’s version of “Somebody to Love” being especially powerful and the clapping hands of “Radio Ga-Ga” made me sit up and take notice of the power that was emitting from Wembley Stadium. Extreme delivered a very powerful Queen medley as well. The tribute show was written off by reviewers at the time, but it was my first real introduction to Queen and their powerful hold on fans. This was in the back of my mind when I picked up the recently released Live at Wembley ’86 right after graduation in June as I was anticipating a new stereo component system which would need something new to help christen it.

Of course, this is what you did back in those days. Now I would have been on You Tube and would know the entire Queen catalog prior to buying Live at Wembley ’86. I would have known it was one of their last live performances, and known everything about the band via their web site. Before the internet though, you went out and bought music and learned the slow way. I picked up Innuendo used a few months later at my favorite record store, Village Music, in Oneonta and the drama, the regal quality, the power, the emotion…I was instantly drawn in. I remember picking up Made in Heaven when that was released at the same store during street week. But the catalog I hadn’t really dove into, I let the Wembley ’86 serve as that without going back to pick up all those albums. After all, this was the early college days when money was limited, and while I wasn’t spending my cash in the bars I had fallen victim to Goldmine magazine and record shows. My Marillion vinyl collection was soaring and I didn’t feel the strong desire to pursue the Queen catalog – I think partially because there was so much! U.K. vinyl and promo singles of Marillion were much more appealing at the time.

As the years went by I started to dive into the catalog here and there, and now I have the kit and caboodle. What continues to amaze me is the reach that Queen had the world. The U.S. was somewhat oblivious when it comes to the band as they sold out stadiums all over the world, but here in the States they were extremely popular, while elsewhere they were massive.

Speaking of massive, while Queen was a band with immense talent, strong songs penned by each of their members, they will always be remembered most for their flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury. Apart from Bono, who comes in a distant second, I can’t think of another frontman with more charisma, poise, and a stronger ability to connect with a massive audience. If a genie asked me what band I’d like to see that I was never able to, I’d pick Queen.

That was a really long introduction to this week’s pick, but I like to give context and background. The pick comes from the DVD released of the Live at Wembley ’86 performances filmed on the second night of two, 70,000+ tickets per show. I love this era of Queen, for me lyrically I like the mid-late ‘80s-1991 era the best – positive, motivational, inspiring. This song was written by Brian May for the Highlander soundtrack and was released on Queen’s A Kind of Magic album in 1986. Freddie delivers a poignant vocal performance and I’m not the only Queen fan who considers this now Freddie’s song.

Who Wants to Live Forever

The mid-section breakdown is especially poignant:
“So touch my tears with your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can have forever
Forever is ours today…”

At 2:30 Brian’s ‘Red Special’ sings with one of the most recognizable guitar tones around, a short emotional solo followed by some powerful volume swells as they build into the harmony rich mid-section above. John Deacon and Roger Taylor providing an explosively rich and lush background.

This is Queen doing what they do best.

Thankfully through their catalog and this recording, we can have Freddie forever.

RIP Freddie.


More Queen:
We Are the Champions (live)
I Want It All
The Show Must Go On
Under Pressure

Linda FoxLinda Fox on February 6th, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
Love this song!