It’s a whole actual song!
I’ve been in to big promises and arbitrary deadlines for a while. So it’s no surprise I’ve done National Novel Writing Month more than once.
The first time I tried properly, I even succeeded. I needed an emotional kick to get me over the line. I felt the moment needed marking. I chose The Bad Plus’ dramatic rendition of Chariots of Fire. But even more appropriately, and entirely randomly, the next thing my computer spat out was this. The Hero.
It’s shockingly apposite. And frankly, I think everyone should play it whenever they are finally finishing anything they’ve been planning and stressing over for a long period of time.
I’m obviously pretty into it right now.
It’s a huge blast of guitar and words. A fully realised and differentiated companion piece to Flash’s theme. Borrowing the occasional motif, but standing alone as a huge burst of release, relief and unburdening. It is an immense and overpowering explosion of upward motion. It’s inspiring and wonderful, and actually represents everything heroic that Flash Gordon himself doesn’t necessarily pull off.
Lift your head to the stars
And the World’s for your taking
(All you have to do is save the world)
May is on top form here. Releasing every bit of restraint he used to build tension, and just letting it fly out and all over the place.
Freddie belts out his vocal, just revelling in heroism for it’s own sake. For everyone’s sake. He wants to be the hero (and he is), he wants us to be the hero (and we could be). Flash is irrelevant at this point, this is something purer and bigger.
Or maybe I’m just glad we’re nearly done.
I’m glad this was the end though. I’m glad this was how we finish. Squadrons of guitars, the battle theme reborn as part of something bigger. Drums raging and flying, and Freddie let loose.
I also love the way it gives precis of the film in the final moments. Bursts of synth and string, from Howard Blake’s score and the band’s. It effectively takes the place of a solo. All raging emotions, surging strings, blazing synths, all woven into the piece before it segues into an actual Brian solo, which builds to huge epic bursts, and actually restates the Flash motifs.
It even ends with a final goodbye to Flash himself, bringing his theme back in yet again (dooming my ‘it’s not really about Flash’ theory).
But it makes a cracking coda. Going all out on the vocals for an increasingly high paced yell.
And of course it ends with a bang.
But the second verse is what actually takes my heart. It’s obvious Brian sappiness, but it’s just kind of perfect.
So you feel like it’s end of story
Find it all pretty satisfactory
Well I tell you my friend
This might seem like the end
But the continuation is
Yours for the making………
(Yes you’re the hero)
We know I have a predilection for squeezing too many syllables into a rhyme scheme, but also that I just enjoy a call to power. Queen have always been beckoning us in, and so of course they want to pass the mantle of heroism on.
Because it was never about Flash, he’s just an avatar for American smug pride. It’s about being a hero. A stupid, bombastic and yet probably wonderful idea.
And that’s for everyone.
Especially the stupid bombast part.
So next time you’ve spent too long working at something, but you’re nearly at the end, remember to inject some heroism into the moment.
And just put this track on to soundtrack your finish.
You’ll feel like a hero.
(Yes you’re a hero)
You may also want to check out the alternate video, with better visuals but worse sound.
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.