Friday, February 26, 2010

Queen Songs of the Week: Drowse, I'm In Love With My Car, and Other Songs in 6/8 Time

Ah did you think I'd forgotten about the Queen Song of the Day? No, no sillies - I could never forget about my Queen boys in Queen.

Occasionally, two of my three latest obsessions converge and create absolute greatness. For example, shopping for running gear. Or running while listening to Queen music. Here, we have what can only be described as the Obsessions Trifecta - Queen related things that can be purchased for use during running. Did your head just explode? Yeah, I thought so.

I go through periods of running with and without music. Sometimes the thought of not taking my iPhone with me is absolutely horrific and just as often the thought of bringing it along makes me ill. After running in silence through the fall of 2009, I started bringing the iPhone with me again around Christmas-time fully stocked with Queen and Roger Taylor solo songs.

As I ran, I began to notice that there were a few songs that naturally seemed to mimic my pace. This is crucial when running - if the tempo of a song is too fast or too slow, your body tries to compensate and you end up going the wrong pace. For an easy run, my recommended pace is about 11:30 per mile. Sure, that seems slow, but the point of an easy run is that it's...well...easy. So I trot off for 5 miles or so at a 11:30 per mile pace and the idea is come race time, I'll be able to run much faster (this does actually work - I ran my last 10K at a pace of about 10:30 per mile and I never do my training runs that fast).

Anyway, I digress. So some of these songs were naturally mimicking my pace. The songs were Drowse and I'm In Love With My Car. They soon became my favorite easy run songs and when I felt myself getting a little carried away with my pace, I'd put one of these two songs on to get myself back on track. In the interest of full disclosure, yes both of these songs are written and sung by RT; however, I felt pretty confident that this wasn't the reason why I so enjoyed running to these songs (because I've got his solo songs on my workout mix and didn't feel the same way about them).

Onto the songs, which are actually both two of my favorite and the impetus for me checking out RT's solo stuff.

Drowse is from the album A Day at the Races, originally released in 1976. RT wrote and sang lead on this song. The lyrics of Drowse are especially strong (especially for RT) as they reflect on youth and better days lost. Dr. May plays the slide guitar but RT tackles the rhythm guitar, drums, and vocals on his own. I especially like the two segments of this song with the first two verses sung in a high falsetto and then a more rock end of the song. Unfortunately, this is not a song that RT performs live (even way back in the day) - I would love to hear his interpretation of this song now (and made a special request that he play it in the question I submitted via the Queen Online website a few weeks ago). *fingers crossed!*

I'm In Love With My Car is from the album A Night at the Opera, originally released in 1975. RT wrote and sang lead on this song which to this day remains a favorite for him to play in concert. Originally when RT pitched this song, Dr. May thought he was joking. RT so much liked this song that he alledgedly threatened to lock himself in a cupboard until Freddie Mercury agreed to make it the B side to Bohemian Rhapsody. This song is a perfect example of RT as a songwriter: growling (almost shouting) vocals mixed with high notes (using both falsetto and his chest voice), great drums (which he manages to play while singing!), and tell-it-like-it-is lyrics ("Told my girl I had to forget her. I'd rather buy me a new carburetor.")

This song is also a great reflection of the fact that RT's voice remains in top form to this day. This version of the song is from the Queen Rock Montreal Blu Ray filmed in 1981. This version is from the Queen + Paul Rodgers 2008 tour. Recorded 27 years apart and RT's voice still sounds just like it did when he first recorded the song in 1976. (And for anyone interested in bloopers - check out this version. Poor RT forgets the words and Freddie Mercury has to help him out.)

Back to the trifecta...

I did a little bit of research and discovered that they are both written in 6/8 time. Now I know absolutely nothing about music, but I have at times in my life had flashes of musical brilliance regarding beat. I subconsciously pick up on things like whether the song's time is unusual or different when most people just listen to the song itself. 6/8 time is relatively unusual for a rock band to use, but, for some reason, it really worked for Queen and quite a few of their songs were written in 6/8 time. So armed with this information, I can now shop for more Queen songs written in 6/8 time that I can use for running!

Other 6/8 Queen songs:
A Winter's Tale
Somebody to Love
We are the Champions (I refuse to link this. You've all heard it.)
Millionaire Waltz (some portions)

I own some of these but am very much looking forward to purchasing the rest. The obsessions trifecta indeed!

Happy Listening!
Happy Running!
Happy Shopping!

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