Who needs you


I’m not going to lie to you. I think I just have a massive double standard when it comes to John Deacon.

His second jaunt into this album is jaunty as fuck. It doesn’t really follow the narrative flow of the record, it just slams in with some finger picked guitars and a cowbell, maraca combo, and it sails right damn into my heart.

Who needs you.

For the record, Freddie’s on cowbell, and Brian’s in control of the maracas.

They work the hell out of them, and it’s great.

The clever bods over at my clear superiors in the Queen charting game spend a long time noting how this song is both completely out of the blue, and shares a hell of a lot of features with the rest of John’s output.

I’m not sure I care about the hidden complexity, I think I just love the light, breezy air of it.

I don’t think it’s just my John fetish, my desire for the quiet one to be the best one. I think it’s just a charming track. The right way for Queen to do something unexpected. Take a new tone, and expose something new about Freddie’s voice, and give it an accomplished and engaging pulse.

The irony of course, is that this lovely charmer is a Dear John.

But it’s dog eat dog in this rat race

And it leaves you bleeding lying flat on your face

Reaching out, reaching out for a helping hand

Where is that helping hand?

I love the way the bleakness of it all contrasts not just with the bounce of the music, but with the cheapness of the mixed metaphor.

It’s a lovely bit of song writing, and it’s produced just perfectly, all sealed in that tiny final guitar for the outro.

I do like the subtle details, with Queen, not just the fierce rowdiness. I like the quiet moments and the self effacement, as well as the loud boastfulness. I like the silliness, as well as the overly sincere.

You have to, that’s the point of them. They’re all about these contrasts and changes and contradictions. If there’s one thing that’s kept my interest in them, and one thing that’s inspired this ridiculous, and currently difficult and painful project, it’s that I still don’t know what to expect. Even from the albums I know well, I don’t know when I’m going to turn up a new moment, a new feeling, a new noise.

Here, it is just a cowbell and a maraca, shuffling a simple lyric, punctiliously sung, directly into my heart.

I like it, I like it.

I know. I just slated Brian for being incongruous, and now I’m loving this, which makes even less sense. But maybe that’s the point. If you’re going to break the mood, go all the damn way.

Because by god, is that what Queen does.

There’s a reason people look at me funny when I play Queen at a party.

It’s because they don’t make sense. They don’t go along with anything. They’re either too loud or too silly or too long or too obscure. It’s hard to blend anything into a set, because you end up punching a hole through the dancefloor. Either by making people too excited, or by leaving them bewildered.

It’s fine though. That’s how I do. It’s how I want music to be. Not just a blur, but a series of highs and lows. Something that has an impact.

And even on these little quirky quieter ones, the impact is there.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I really do like John.

I guess I need you.



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.

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