A flavour of that other, darker album returns, as Freddie offers a set of falsetto, howling pieces of sentimental advice. Then pretends you’re a pretentious soldier. Then it goes a bit horror movie.
I like it.
Trapped in some icy chasm, Freddie wants us to not try to hard, sit back and not worry too much about the problems. Procrastination is a shield. It’s fine.
This is jarring against my present deadline, but I’m going to carry on, but perhaps not try too hard, just in case Freddie notices.
To be fair, Freddie belts and falsettos and sings with such an enormous fury, that he’s clearly not taking his own advice.
Or, possibly more likely, it’s all just too easy for him.
If you’re searching out for something –
Don’t try so hard
If you’re feeling kinda nothing –
Don’t try so hard
Honestly, it’s useful to hear Freddie this effortlessly fragile and so strong at the same time. It’s clearly a genuine message he wanted to get across, a genuine feeling. It doesn’t quite line up with most prior Queen tracks, but the vulnerability is clear and real, and not sounding like anything else is exactly what Queen have always done.
Of course, it goes a bid weird in the middle too.
One day you’ll be a sergeant major
Oh you’ll be so proud
Screaming out your bloody orders
Hey but not too loud
Polish all your shiny buttons
Dressed as lamb instead of mutton
But you never had to try
To stand out from the crowd
It’s surprisingly venomous, in the midst of something so caring and thoughtful. There’s a brittle anger, a fragile hate. Someone Freddie still has to rail against. Possibly just conformity. Possibly something more personal.
I don’t know.
I do know that as the song rips into it’s final third, the guitars swell and swoop and rip shreds through that ice, while still keeping their cool.
As Freddie proclaims how beautiful the world is, we hear that beauty, but also something colder and more dangerous. It’s one of the finest and most subtle of Brian May’s sonic suggestions, just three rising chords pulling upwards. I love it.
Then the ominous horror stabs, and an actual guitar solo that’s fairly mundane. But Freddie tears back in, belting in about not trying too hard with all the energy he begs you to save. It works.
It’s a strange piece. Calling for inaction. Raging at conformity. Celebrating beauty. All in one, it’s a heartfelt but confusing message. Freddie wants to show us his heart, but he doesn’t want us to understand it.
That’s fine though, clarity is not what we look for when we want to be close to something, we just need them to hold us, be with us, be themselves, maybe lift each other up.
Or just fall into a ball, curve around each other. Quietly being lonely together.
I feel close to Freddie here.
Oh don’t take it all to heart
It’s only fools – they make these rules
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.