Recipe for gorgeous: kick of with a literal opera, and then sing about how relationships are difficult.
But such an easy song.
Not to write or perform, but to hear. To love.
It does open with a bit ripped off from an opera, giving this huge tearing sense of drama to the opening, presumably representative of the break up bringing about the bout of introspection the rest of the song brings up.
I don’t want my freedom
There’s no reason for living with a broken heart
It’s tough and bleak and powerful. But everything from that moment is empathetic and reassuring and heartfelt and, well, frankly true.
I try to fight back the tears
They say it’s just a state of mind
But it happens to everyone –
Lyrically, there is nothing bold here, but it has a specificity and kindness that makes it feel so damn real. Allegedly intended as a follow up on the same relationship started in Play the game, we check in on Freddie and find things in pieces, inside and out, but Freddie taking a more honest and open approach to it than almost anyone who’s been broken up ever.
I think he’s probably being his own best friend here. Throwing out kindnesses and promises and reassurances to try and mend the unmendable. To try and restore faith in the process of time. The process of living. The things it can do.
It’s hard. But it goes.
And so does the song. It goes on, upwards, outwards, richer and deeper. It’s one of Freddie’s masterpieces. A huge sweeping piece of piano and song wrapped in so much pompous warmth.
In a world that’s filled with sorrow
There are people searching for love in every way –
Is there a more hopeful, more optimistic song about sadness and difficulty out there.
A song that begins finding life worthless but ends with a bold, solid and furtive statement on the deep abiding worth of love and life itself.
It’s a long hard fight –
But I’ll always live for tomorrow
I’ll look back at myself and say I did it for love.
Yes I did it for love – for love- oh I did it for love.
And what did he do for love?
It’s such a humane song. Such a necessary positivity. The hopefullness cuts right into it’s ivory bones, with a welcoming deep hug of pianowork.
Freddie acts as his own shoulder to cry on, and in so doing, gives us all a shoulder (I’d recommend not the one with the enormous feathery shoulderpad).
I can’t separate the voices in the song. On some level, I think we’re supposed to picture two friends walking down the street, deep in self care. One’s travails, and the other’s reassurances. But they aren’t separated out. Because while this is a song about surviving alone, it’s also a song about living together. How hard that is.
But it doesn’t sound needy. It doesn’t sound desperate.
It doesn’t once sound like Freddie is going to go back and try and hold on to the broken pieces of relationship. He just needs the pieces of himself, and the love to carry on..
And he finds it. Not in another person, but in everybody. In the simple act of living
The chorus extends, every repeat. Every time it becomes too obsessed with putting the lost back together, it leaves it hanging, until it eventually finds something else.
The hard fight, not just of a relationship, but of life itself.
Because everybody is searching.
Freddie doesn’t want to fix that one relationship. He starts a new one with the world.
It’s beautiful, simple, and it makes my heart burst.
I think there are few love songs so precise, so correct. So honest, so optimistic, and so willing to let go.
But not of everything.
It refuses to let go of life.
No matter how hard.
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.