Content warning: Extremely inappropriate approach to the topic of suicide. There are support lines available worldwide.
But here we go.
Seriously, this song is so deeply inappropriate that I’m uncomfortable writing about it. I’ve had beloved friends kill themselves, and suicidal ideations myself. There’s a small chance that I’m the one person in the universe that Freddie could pull back from the edge, but that rare exception aside, this is a massively problematic song.
Don’t believe me, haven’t listened yet?
Okay. I’ll try. But bear in mind, I’ve not been trained to talk about this properly, and I legitimately think this song and discussion is likely to be unsafe. Sorry.
So you think it’s the easy way out
Think you’re gonna slash your wrists
Baby when you do it all you do is
Get on my tits
With a bit of distance, it’s hilarious, but it is also very literally someone saying ‘suicide is not the answer because I find it really annoying’.
My understanding of suicide changed quite fundamentally when I read an excerpt of something by David Foster Wallace (who did later kill himself), in which he describes a sort of fire of the mind. If you’re jumping, there’s something hideous that you’re jumping from, unlikely something positive you’re jumping to.
Freddie, normally my hero, boils it down to attention seeking. He genuinely uses the word ‘prick teaser’.
Specifically, it’s grotesque tied to a really catchy blues beat, a punchy chorus and a slamming honky tonk rock middle eight.
I’ve had the song in my head for weeks. It’s hard to push it out. Again, because the main refrain is simply ‘don’t do it’ and the middle eight does lead with the sensible advice that ‘you need help’, it’s not the worst thing to have in your head, but it could easily turn on you.
I have no idea what Freddie’s intention was. Whether he genuinely thought he was being supportive, whether he’s taking the piss and has no respect for people with mental health difficulties, or if he was struggling with his own issues, and finding a safe space to voice them.
It’s definitely ways to chop up the song to make it someone at war with themselves. Someone’s mind arguing about the options, the possibilities, the reasons. Freddie often sounds like his own demons, and this could be another case of that. But wrapped up in the fingersnapping delivery, it just sounds awful.
Because it’s brilliant. It’s a perfect bit of nostalgic jazz, with a dreadfully wrong headed set of lyrics.
And part of me just wants to laugh. It’s so insensitive, it pulls you out of the subject matter, and lets you laugh. It’s hard to laugh while remembering dear friends killed by the subject matter, but then, I most want to remember laughing with them. So maybe, just maybe, it’s okay.
And it’s one of the things about death. It’s impossible to look at. Impossible to think about. Laughter and humour is often the only way to give ourselves perspective, to allow us to look it all in the eye.
Maybe that’s what he’s going for. As I mentioned before, this album is psychologically dark and nebulous. This maybe a bouncy bassline upon which Freddie dissects his own fiery mind, sanitised through musical lightness.
Or maybe he was a dick.
I don’t know.
Remember. If you are having suicidal thoughts, get help. Please.
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.