Friday, September 24, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Sweet Lady

We're still moving through the songs on Queen's 1975 release A Night at the Opera. I've skipped two songs which I already featured so click here to read my feature of '39, by Dr. May, and here to read about I'm in Love With My Car, RT's only contribution to the album.

Sweet Lady was written by Dr. May and is the 6th track on the album.

Video courtesy of spaccapassa

Around this time, Dr. May was writing many songs with a bit of a bluesy sound and Sweet Lady falls into this category. The guitar riff is very recognizable and a bit repetitive throughout.

This song contains some of Dr. May's oddest lyrics. In particular the line "You call me sweet like I'm some kind of cheese" tends to elicit a giggle out of most fans.

The drums in this song are particularly great, especially in the chorus. RT remarked in 2002 to Rhythm Magazine that in this song Dr. May would tell him, "'I want it to go like this,' and he wanted it to do three different things at once and that was a bit hard to understand." Somehow RT managed to give the Doctor what he wanted though!

Vocally, this is an interesting performance by Freddie Mercury in that it's more speaking than the powerful singing fans are used to. Rather reminiscent of Tie Your Mother Down, another one of Dr. May's guitar based songs from the 1970s.

Happy Listening!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: You're My Best Friend

I debated for a bit whether to feature You're My Best Friend as this week's Queen Song of the Week or move on to the next song on Queen's 1975 release: A Night at the Opera.

My reservations?

Well, I kind of already featured You're My Best Friend here when I wrote about my favorite Queen memories during my last giveaway.

Finally I decided that post was really more of a featurette than a feature and since I'm really trying hard to show poor Deaky some love on my blog, I'd go ahead and do a full feature on this song.

You're My Best Friend is the fourth track on A Night at the Opera. It was released as a single in 1976 where it peaked at #7 on the U.K. charts and at #16 in the U.S. It was released in 1984 as a Double-A side with Killer Queen in 1984, but did not chart.

Video courtesy of queenofficial.

Deaky wrote this song about his wife Veronica. They've been married for more than thirty years and have six children so the sentiment was clearly true! When Deaky first told the band that he envisioned using the Wurlitzer piano, Freddie expressed his unhappiness with playing that particular instrument so Deaky went home and taught himself! When played live, Freddie played his traditional piano.

RT hits some great high notes in the backing track and as for the drums, Deaky had his own ideas about them as well.

According to RT (Absolute Greatest audio commentary, 2009): It was a nice big, fat drum sound and a sort of reverse round the drums starting on the lowest tuned drums first and ending on the snare, which is not… it’s sort of the reverse of the way things are normally done – so quite interesting from that drum aspect.

This song is particularly special to Husband and me because we hired a string trio to play it as a musical interlude during our wedding ceremony. I wasn't able to rip the performance from our wedding DVD, but here's a link to the Vitamin String Quartet playing the song. And upon further inspection, they seem to have recorded a number of Queen songs - totally awesome!

You're My Best Friend is the first of many hits that Deaky wrote for the band and demonstrates his traditional pop style. The song was particularly popular in the U.S., where Queen had slowly begun to make a never for itself.

Regarding the tremendous popularity of the song, RT, never one to mince words, remarks: I was absolutely devastated one day when I happened to catch the Donny and Marie Osmond show, or was it the Osmonds? And there they were singing it and I thought it’s all gone terribly wrong.

Yikes - I wonder what he'd have to say about my string trio!

Happy Listening!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keep On Running: Coming Clean

You know that expression "the white elephant on the blog"?

Well maybe that's not the exact expression, but you get the idea.

There's been a white elephant hanging out on my blog for a few weeks now and after lots of consideration, I'm ready to address it.

Some of you may remember the weekly featured I started running back in July: Keep on Running. The plan was to post my weekly training for my upcoming half marathon as a type of motivation to get me to run in the miserable summer heat and humidity. I'd been slagging off for most of the summer and knew I needed to get my act together if I was going to make it through the race.

Some of you also may have noticed that I've neglected to run my Keep on Running feature for several weeks.

Those of you who are really observant (or are just boarderline stalkers) may have noticed that I've not been referring to running as frequently in my daily posts.

Well, readers, the jig is up. I'm ready to come clean.

I'm not running the Diva Half Marathon in October. I've told my fellow princesses and they understand. But as each week passes and I just blatantly ignore the running aspect of my blog, I feel like I'm lying to you all every single day.

And I hate that.

The decision to not run the race was not mine. It was my doctor's and while I'm not happy with him, I understand his reasoning. I won't go into details here, but let me just say that he nearly had a heart attack when he heard I was planning on running 13.1 miles in October and training for that run in this summer heat.

Today I ran for the first time in weeks. Husband convinced me that a slow and short run would be fine (which is true - only long distances were explicitly prohibited) and he was right: I feel much better having gotten a few miles in.

They were really really slow though, but the weather was perfect and the run itself wasn't terribly uncomfortable. I'm looking forward to slowly getting back in the saddle again.

So, readers, there you have it. There won't be anymore weekly Keep on Running posts, but at least now I won't feel like a horrible liar every Sunday when I don't write one. And I'm still hoping to attend the Diva Half Marathon so I'll have plenty of pictures and stories from the weekend.

I hope you all understand: running has been a big part of my blog (less so than shopping and Queen, but nevertheless, something I initially set out to include a great deal). It still will be something I discuss and something I do, but just in a different way.

Happy Running!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Love of My Life

Unfortunately I don't own any of the Freddie Mercury solo albums so I'm rather ill-informed when it comes to his career outside of Queen. Therefore, this week in honor of Freddie's birthday on Sunday (click here) I've decided to feature another song that Freddie wrote for Queen's 1975 release A Night at the Opera.

This week's Queen Song of the Week is Love of My Life. It was written by Freddie Mercury and is the 9th track on A Night at the Opera. A live version of the song was released as a single in 1979 where it peaked at #63 on the U.K. charts.

Courtesy of bonjovi1567

Of all the songs Freddie Mercury wrote for A Night at the Opera (excluding Bohemian Rhapsody which is just in a class of it's own), this song is definitely my favorite. The studio version features Dr. May on a harp! Despite what some sources claim, however, Dr. May is not a harpist. Rather, he played one chord at a time and the tune was pieced together.

Dr. May discussed the difficulty of playing the harp in 1982: I did it chord by chord. Actually, it took longer to tune the thing than to play it. It was a nightmare because every time someone opened the door, the temperature would change and the whole thing would go out. I would hate to have to play a harp on stage. I just figured out how it worked - the pedals and everything - and did it bit by bit.

Originally written on the piano, the band reworked this song on the acoustic guitar and it soon became a live favorite, featuring Dr. May and Freddie alone on stage. The song exploded in South America while the band was touring in the late 1970s and as a result was put in the set list. Typically Freddie would sing the first few lines and then let the audience take over in a sing along style. When the band recorded their 1981 show in Montreal, they kept the song in the set list which resulted in a rather charming moment of Freddie realizing that the audience wasn't terribly familiar with the song and he'd have to actually sing it in its entirety!

Courtesy of QueenOfficial

This is another song that Husband really likes though I'm pretty sure he's more a fan of the live version. I am as well because it showcases Freddie Mercury's ability to connect with the audience.

The lyrics of the song are rather lovely and are suspected to be about Mary Austin, Freddie's girlfriend in the early 1970s. Though they broke up right around the time this album was recorded, they remained very good friends. When Freddie Mercury died in 1991, he left a vast majority of his estate to Ms. Austin. To this day she lives in his Kensington home.

Even after Freddie's death, the song continues to be a fan favorite at concerts. Dr. May performed the song at his Brixton Academy show in 1993 (click here for the first bit) and when Queen toured with Paul Rodgers in 2005 and 2008, Mr. Rodgers would sing the first few lines of the song before letting the audience take over. Just another example of Queen's music living on.

Happy Listening!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Freddie Mercury's Birthday

Today would have been Freddie Mercury's 64th Birthday.

Happy Birthday Freddie!

Check out his absolutely astonishing song Barcelona (off the album of the same name). In 1987, Freddie collaborated with opera singer Montserrat Caballe to produce an album of opera music. Here they are performing the song live.

The album Barcelona is unlike any Queen or solo project released by anyone in the band. Typically when ranking the band's solo work, Barcelona is held out in a category entirely by itself. It really is an amazing album.

The song was relatively successful in Spain and was used as the theme to the 1992 Summer Olympics one year after Freddie Mercury's death.

This Friday I'll feature a Queen Song of the Week written by Freddie and click here to see me dressed as Freddie for the Mercury Phoenix Trust's event: Freddie for a Day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

We're currently moving through the tracks on Queen's 1975 album A Night at the Opera. This week's Queen Song of the Week is the second track on the album.

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon was written by Freddie Mercury. Musically the song is in line with other vaudeville-esque songs like Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (click here) and Bring Back that Leroy Brown (click here).  Freddie was clearly a big fan of this style during the mid-70s as a second song appears on A Night at the Opera which is rather similar in sound. We'll get to that one in a few weeks.

Video courtesy of teddi2002

Relatively short in length (less than one and a half minutes), one of the most interesting things about this song is how the megaphone-style vocals were recorded. Remember this was back in 1975 before a lot of super advanced studio equipment was available so the band placed a pair of headphones inside a metal can to create the desired effect! Very clever, boys!

Freddie Mercury did all the vocals himself and for the guitars, Dr. May attempted to emulate the sound of spoons being played, keeping in line with the mood of the song.

Happy Listening!