Friday, April 23, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Man on Fire

I've mentioned this song before (um several times actually), but it still warrants an entire post dedicated to it because it is that awesome!

Man on Fire is on RT's 1984 solo album Strange Frontier. It was released as a single, but as RT was busy touring with Queen, he did little to promote the single so it peaked at #66 in the U.K.

This is a great song with a great drum centered beat. I've heard criticisms that this song has no rhythm guitar, but in my (completely non-musically educated) opinion, I don't think it needs one as the drums serve more as mellody than beat. The cymbal crashes throughout the chorus are great- as soon as I figure out how to stream songs through Rock Band so I can play along, this is the first song I'm going to try because it's just so fun to listen to and play along with on my steering wheel!

Lyrically this is a really strong song for RT because he uses *gasp* a metaphor. Obviously, RT isn't literally "on fire" so right there, he's beyond "the way you boil your eggs" (Okay, I've linked this song before, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about it. The song is Touch the Sky from RT's 1994 album Happiness? and it really is a good song once you get past that one awful lyric and the children's laughter at the beginning and end of the song. Studio effects sparingly, remember RT? Sparingly.) In 1984 Bruce Springsteen was huge and many have suggested that RT was trying to parallel the same "struggles of the working man" theme in his songwriting. This song is definitely an example of that theme (whether RT was influenced by Springsteen, I can't say unless RT wants to contact me directly to discuss the matter!) as RT sings about trying to make ends meet to support his family but sometimes just wanting to run away from it all. I can report that Strange Frontier was released a few weeks prior to Springsteen's iconic Born in the U.S.A. so any direct similarities are pure coincidence.

Though RT didn't do much to promote Man on Fire as a single, one thing that he did do was make a music video the greatest music video of all time. I can describe it but really seeing is believing - all I can say is that you should pay particular attention to RT's attempt at dancing (How can a drummer have so little rhythm?) culminating in what I can only describe as a frog-hopping move during the last part of the bridge ("It's the power of your love that keeps me under their thumb. Cause the beat of your heart is the beat of my drum.") RT wasn't able to restrain himself from a strictly literal interpretation of the song in the music video so at the end he burns down the building. This ending may have even resulted in the video being banned in the U.S.

Despite it not enjoying any real success on the charts, Man on Fire is a fan favorite and RT often played it live when performing solo as well as with his side project The Cross.

Should RT ever tour in the U.S. again (or should I convince Husband that we need to schedule a trip to England based on when he's touring there), I'll be in the front row screaming, "Play Man on Fire!"

Happy Listening!

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