This is pretty lustrous, actually.
This is definitely my favourite Roger Taylor one so far. A drowsy, hallucinogenic, melancholic perspective on teenage life. It touches on his early ‘using rock and roll to run away’ themes, but focusses more on the hazy feeling of trappedness before the escape.
It’s surprisingly gripping, for something with such a drunkenly phased guitar line.
It’s the sad-eyed, goodbye, yesterday moments I remember.
It’s the bleak street, weak-kneed partings I recall.
It’s the mistier mist
The hazier days
The brighter sun
And the easier lays
There’s all the more reason for laughing and crying
When you’re younger and life isn’t too hard at all.
As with much of Roger’s work, the song-writing is oddly out of keeping with the Queen style, here feeling much more like doped up Pink Floyd. Recalling childhood through a burnt out lens is really striking though, and it bears a close listen.
It’s the fantastic drowse of the afternoon Sundays
That bored you to rages of tears
Whenever Brian goes into teenage mode, he focusses on desire, lusting after perfected distant images of women. It’s creepy as fuck. Roger’s perspective doesn’t romanticise, but captures perfectly the dullness of it all, and the weirdly energising tension between that boredom and the rage of emotions and feelings at the time. The mundanity and the rawness brought together in tiny little details.
It’s a vertical hold, all the things that you’re told
The twin sensations of being trapped and sleepy pull through the whole piece like a spine. There’s a nostalgia, but a real awareness that its self-deception.
I really think it’s special. Capturing the hallucinogenic tedium of teen life perfectly. Or at least, the teen life of someone like me, comfortably bored, with the freedom to make safely dangerous mistakes.
It’s not just the lyrics, either. The washed out guitar, perpetually sliding, and permanently phased into a squamous mass of sadness. It reinforces it all. The theme made explicit in the nebulousness of the guitar line.
Roger’s voice is low down in the mix for much of the time, wiped out by the swell of the thing. His voice even ‘breaks’ halfway through, dropping an octave alongside a clarifying guitar part. Again, a hint of the theme. By the end, when he drops further to talking, rambling like a drunk, and disappearing from the lyric sheet, we reveal a tired out, wasted present as the actual perspective.
It’s like an old man remembering his youth, getting excited (if finding an honest way to express it), but eventually getting bored and distracted himself.
It’s strange. But it’s wonderful.
It ain’t easy at all.
Thinkin’ it right, doin’ it wrong
It’s easier from an armchair.
Waves of alternatives wash at my sleepiness.
Have my eggs poached for breakfast I guess.
The mundanity of that close is kind of thrilling. Oscillating between replaying the past, and wishing for ways to change it, then getting distracted by thoughts of breakfast.
Is it really just someone staying up too late, pawing at their memories as they try to drift away, always finding some new memory to burst in on.
It’s a beautifully dense pile of emotions and thoughts. So many threads to pull on, so much to recognise and understand. It sounds like a simple song, and it has a simple structure, but every detail of it seems to have layers.
And it expresses its themes so perfectly.
It’s a precise kind of drowse. And I’m grateful for it.
Even if it stirs up some memory.
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.