We’re back in May territory. That of a folksy ballad that initially feels quite insipid, but weirdly grows on you.
It’s actually a dlightful version of something that builds up out of something quite mundane, and slowly becomes more unusual, without every quite losing the essence of what it started with.
To my ear, it sounds like a kind of prog folk number. Built out of a conventional Fairport Convention, it goes a little off piste by using guitars to create a string/pad sound, and adding very Queenish harmonies. It also feels like it restarts itself a few time. I think this is time signature changes at odd intervals.
It also has sped up tape vocal sections for the bridge. All the vocal is Brian, as much as some of it doesn’t sound like him.
It’s weird, this ability to make a song that applies so many of the weirder Queen tropes (tape trickery, thick vocal harmonies, time signature shifts and odd time signatures) whilst still making that seems so plain and honest.
I was ready for this to be one of my ‘complaining about Brian missing the point’ tracks. But it just grows on me. I don’t like the vocal line much, and the lyrics are tedious, but everything underlying and supporting that is marvellous. And the rhythm of the words have some appeal.
And if you gaze into the melancholy, it does have some appeal.
I’m all through with ties
I’m all tired of tears
I’m a happy man
Don’t look that way
Maybe it’s just because I’m planning a move. Maybe I’m letting the theme suck me in, make me soft.
Because it is a simple song about convincing yourself to stay, or go. It’s not clear which. Which is generally what it feels like. You can make both cases, you don’t know which side you actually need to pull to.
Leaving home ain’t necessarily
The only way
Leaving home ain’t easy but
May be the only way
I also love the contortions used to squeeze that ‘necessarily’ into the rhythm of it. It’s the longest word in the song, by a long way, and it feels like he’s struggling to justify the word, the idea, the whole concept.
So yes, maybe I can get into the lyrics. As trite as some of it is, there’s something precise about the way Brian presents the case. Something particular. He sounds lost and torn.
His extra vocal line in the last chorus is cheesy as all hell, sounding so contrived, but because it’s wrapped in this thick pile of uplifting but unusual guitar noise, it all works out.
I’m still torn. Liking this song ain’t easy, but it seems to be the only way.
Because it does have that thick richness, that multi-layered depth. It sounds warm and welcoming. Even when it pitches up and sounds unsettling.
I think I’ll like it. But who knows if I’ll ever return. It’s not one to write home about.
What’s wrong my love
What’s right my love
But it works.
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.