It’s a hell of a title, you’ve got to give him that.
In some ways, it’s a companion piece to White Queen (as it began), in that it’s Brian May mooning over a distant, idolised woman. In others, it’s got a brooding darkness and weirdness that makes me much more intrigued.
It’s simple and slow, but not quite dirge-like. There’s an urgency that grips after a few listens. The simple acoustic hook and pounding relentlessness of the kick drum give Brian a lot of opportunity to sing longingly, in a way that sounds just right.
It’s the sound of a man overpowered.
Who knows who she’ll make me
As I lie in her cocoon
This feels like something other than teen horniness, and closer to a particularly specific play scene.
Again, we find that without mentioning bodies, Queen are quite capable of fishing up a dose of raw and interesting sexuality. Romantically, soothingly sexual, if not exactly vanilla.
I like it a lot.
Something about it’s simplicity (which it seems unlikely to be finding as a thread between May’s tracks…a willingness to just right a simple and open song, despite being the master of the elaborate and ridiculous solo).
But he has nothing to master here, he cedes control to his stormtrooper. He gives himself to the music. To the she.
It’s not warm though, even if it is open-hearted. Well, maybe it’s warm in the final verse, but then it descends into a darker space. Feedback and echo meld with sirens and heavy breathing. The whole becomes ominous and unsettling.
Apparently the dark street sounds were recorded from May’s hospital bed (and suddenly I worry that he’s actually just feeling trapped in hospital, and leering at a nurse), but they make for a pleasing hellscape to paste the music over. We end with a rolling jostle of toms, pinning the music down to the end. Ending the lonely, heartfelt moment.
It’s surprisingly gripping, for such a slow ballad with so few lyrics and so little development beyond that sink into confusion.
But I like it, it reminds me of some of Velvet Underground’s bleaker moments, a real feeling of New Yorkian loneliness.
So it fits into the city narrative of the first side, and joins it with the powerlessness of the second side. Once again, we’re in the lap of the gods (possibly one very specific god here, but nonetheless the theme stands).
It’s such a striking counterpoint to the last track. The absurdity of going from bar-room knees up to this is probably the biggest, fastest shift of the record. It only works because we’ve been trained to expect it. It’s a neat trick.
I just hope it’s respectful as it sounds. It sounds like a nice healthy submission. Which is what I’d want in this sort of scene.
I’m warm and terrified
She makes me so
I think we know what.
I love this for effortlessly blending the sexual and the lonely, the submission and the affection. The heartfelt honesty.
It could just as easily be expressing something unhealthy and problematic, but it still feels just about right. Something about the intimacy of the music. The honesty of that heavy breathing. The delicacy of the sound. And the reality of the night time street.
It feels like home, even in it’s darkness. And that’s warmth enough.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.