A friend e-mailed me the above image. I was delighted. I’ve long loved Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I love it to the point that I was briefly upset to find the TV show “Super Fun Night” had used it as a theme song. The song deserved better.
It deserves this:
My friend didn’t know the song. She just thought it was cool because it was Freddie Mercury. “I like Freddie, and I know you LOVE Freddie, so I had to send it.” And she was delighted to listen to the song.
As she listened, I thought, “Yeah, I DO love Freddie. It never occurred to me before, but I do.”
There are four Queen albums on The Big List, including the very first one posted. Here’s where they rank:
29. “A Night at the Opera” (1975)
184. “Sheer Heart Attack” (1974)
206. “Jazz” (1978)
365. “The Game” (1980)
And there are songs on all the other albums around this period that I love dearly: “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Somebody to Love,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” “Spread Your Wings,” “Need Your Loving Tonight,” “Sail Away Sweet Sister,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
Just keep “Another One Bites the Dust” away from me.
I was a teenager in the closeted 1970s when Freddie Mercury became a public figure. His sexuality never troubled me. Thinking about whether performers were gay was something I didn’t spend much time on. I knew if I admitted to liking lightweight pop acts, my own sexuality would be questioned. But I also knew that would happen if I wore purple socks on Thursday. (Yeah, that was a thing at my school.)
How did I battle it? I didn’t admit to liking some Partridge Family songs, and kept my passion for the Raspberries pretty close to my vest. But I also made a point to wear purple on as many Thursdays as possible.
As much as they wanted us to, I don’t think many boys my age made Queen rock royalty. I remember being stunned at one point when a close friend started trashing “Keep Yourself Alive,” which was my favorite Queen song for a long time, and if not for how much I adore “Killer Queen,” it might still be. (I would never have realized what Moet & Chandon was without it. Although that’s not the only reason it’s probablymy favorite Queen song. But then again, there’s “ ’39” …)
If we were talking “heavy” bands, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were the huge acts in my teen years. Deep Purple and KISS made their runs, early and late in the 70s. Aerosmith was a band we could actually see in concert.
But Queen didn’t fit as “heavy.” Too many ballads, too many sweet songs, and what the hell was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” anyway? And then things got far less interesting. I was confused by “Hot Space,” and annoyed enough with “The Works” that I gave up on them. Which made their Live Aid appearance far more interesting. Were people really still big fans of Queen? Apparently so.
(And this is the picture, right? Everybody who heard fascism and Nazism in the footstomps of “We Will Rock You” flipped out as soon as they saw thousands of people with their arms over their heads, clapping in rhythm.)
But yeah, I think I did and do love Freddie. I think Freddie is why I loved especially Mika’s first album, and his first song. (I’d share this with friends who dug Queen, and their reaction was mixed. I was just amazed by the voice, and appreciative of Mika name-checking Mercury.)
I’d like to think Mercury would smile at that.
As my friend listened to “Don’t Stop Me Now,” she suddenly said, “This is where ‘Wicked’ got the idea for its songs.” I laughed. That may or may not have been true. But I also couldn’t help but think of Mika’s “Popular Song,” which lifted directly (and credited properly) from “Popular” from “Wicked.”
Freddy Mercury’s been dead for 24 years. I am now 11 years older than Mercury when he died. But he still rules his area of pop culture.