When I think of the big, epic Queen tracks, it’s more likely to be Bohemian Rhapsody, The Prophet’s song, March of the Black Queen or Innuendo that comes to mind. In comparison, this is a straightforward rocker, without the sense of theatre and opera, of those other beasts.
But this is actually the one that’s charmed its way deepest into my heart. Bohemian is the one to sing along to, The Prophet’s song is the one for marvelling at, Black Queen’s the problematic one and Innuendo is for the future. But this is the one that’s buried itself deepest in me, maybe.
It’s one of those songs I’ve been mistreading. I still think the first verse stands up as my interpretation, but the rest is actually a bit more complicated, at least according to Brian.
For me it’s of a particular archetype of song. Stories about late night romance…not sexual, necessarily, just that tension of being up late and refusing to sleep, just hungrily craving more time in a pile of affection.
It’s always struck me as a pleasing coincidence that I discovered this song at the same time as Fats Waller’s utterly gorgeous version of Two sleepy people. The two held the same charm for me, that late night love affair. Like Baby, it’s cold outside without the lingering threat of sexual assault and manipulation.
You say you love me
And I hardly know your name
And if I say I love you in the candle light
There’s no-one but myself to blame
It’s perhaps unsettling that I didn’t spot that actually a relationship falling a part. Brian has the tale split into three scenes, one with a lover, one with another lover, and one back with the first, riddled with guilt.
If I take you tonight
Is it making my life a lie?
Oh you make me wonder
Did I live my life alright
I’m going to stick with my version (same as all dead).
What can be stated simply is twofold:
- this is a great song to play towards the end of the night, pushing for one last dance, reminding people that it’s late, it’s late, it’s late but not too late
- this is a great song
It’s got all the trademarks, in pretty much their simplest and clearest form. Oscillating between pounding, raging and thudding, the harmonies lift us into choruses, Freddie’s belting and the solo is memorable, and makes you want to sing along (Freddie can’t help himself).
I love the roaring build up, and the way it settles back into that core simple groove for the third scene.
It’s everything I love about Queen, condensed into a surprisingly simple and accessible song. It doesn’t ask you to think of them as clever, it just asks to wrap its arms around you and not ever let it end.
So of course there’s a fake ending, and a little rock and roll riot for the ending. The drum crashes and about, trying too hold out that little bit longer.
It acts out its feelings, its story, with every beat and hook.
I don’t think it’s the song I would use to convince everyone that diving deeper into Queen is worth it, but it may well be one of the biggest reasons I want people to dive deeper into Queen.
Let this song into your heart, and you’ll have a riff to hold on to the next time it’s late and you think you might be falling in love.
Not that you should need one.
Just don’t pay enough attention to the lyrics to learn what it’s actually about, right.
Stick with me, and it’s just a perfect and believable little love poem.
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.