I am going to struggle with this blog. I just am and mostly because my feelings for Queen are just so ambivalent. I like Queen but I just don’t love them. Its not really any one thing but maybe just a mix of things. When I listen to their studio albums I get the real good highs of the really good songs and the few great ones and the really bad songs that turn me off and make me wonder what were they thinking. I like the gems in their albums like the song All Dead but that’s just not enough.
A couple of years ago I was at a vinyl party and it was a good time and we got into a discussion as you might expect on great front men. Now look I love all sorts of front men and some at least one front woman I cherish the ground she walks on. Oh Belinda!!! Like any great discussion on who the greatest is be it singers or guitarists or drummers there is going to be a variety of opinion. First of all let me say there is a difference between a great singer and a great front man. You don’t have to be one to be the other. In my opinion and its just my opinion the greatest front man in the history of rock and roll is Mick Jagger. Everyone falls in line somewhere after Mick. One of my vinyl buddies believes that it’s Freddie Mercury. I do think they are both great but Mick is Mick and Freddie is Freddie. Mick is the example that all front men aspire to. He set the standards.
My first experience or knowledge of Queen was when I was in junior high. My sister who was in high school and old enough to drive would take me to school some mornings. Many mornings I rode my bike. Depending on which grade I was actually in, I either had football practice in the morning or afternoon. So one morning we were on the way to school and a song came on the radio and I said there was something wrong with her speakers. She said no that’s the way the song was which I thought was cool. I cannot remember the song but I asked if there were other bands that did that and my sister said that Queen had a few songs. I had never heard of Queen. A little while later months weeks I don’t know when the song We Are the Champions became a hit and was all over radio. I bought that album News of the World. I didn’t buy another queen album for many many years. The album was just okay and as a teenager I was going to spend my money on albums I really liked. For most of the remainder of Queen’s career they would have hit songs and some of those songs I really liked and some I really didn’t. When Fat Bottom Girls came out I liked the guitar riff but little else. Now I love the song quite a bit. I don’t know what it is about them but it’s there for me something I just can’t quite put into words. I am just not a big fan.
Queen is a band that just revolves around Freddie. I know there are Brian May fans and quite honestly I think he is underrated but you didn’t go so see a Queen show to see Brian you went to see Freddie. Now maybe some of you might say that about the Rolling Stones but I bet you are in a very small minority. Keith is as much the show as Mick. I actually saw Queen with Paul Rodgers and thought it was a great show but that was because Rodgers is a great front man too and could stand up on his own. Queen with Adam Lambert is all about tribute to Freddie and more power to them as I do not begrudge Brian May for that. Play as long as you can and Freddie is worth remembering.
It is not Freddie the front man that intrigues me. It is Freddie the human, the vulnerable very fragile human who privately was so lonely and just wanted someone to love him not because he was Freddie Mercury the rock star but because he was Freddie this vulnerable fragile human who deserved to be loved. He denied the horrible illness that took his life until the end telling the band only and just a few others close to him. That’s the tragedy and I cried for him still cry for him because Freddie mattered like the friends I lost mattered all dying miserable sad deaths all alone.
That is what makes Queen worth remembering because Queen will always matter. There are some who will always hate Queen because they are unable to separate Freddie’s sexuality from the music he wrote and performed. Maybe they should not be separated. Freddie stood for LGBQT rights before that phrase was coined because Freddie knew that no one should have to deny who they are and certainly should not be judged for it. Again it will always be Freddie the person who matters to me and maybe one great moment from Wayne’s World that reminded everyone how much music matters to most of us,