The inside out song, with guitar taking the verse and chorus, and vocal doing a solo in the midsection.
It’s a quiet moment, when that idea could have been something huge and ridiculous, given May’s penchant for never using one guitar when a hundred could have done it louder. But actually, despite the above, this is very much a Mercury led thing, and it kind of shows. Apparently Freddie did sing the main melody part, or at least it’s beginnings, and May built from and on top of that.
So we get this melancholic art piece as the penultimate track. A sad, lonely guitar, with nothing put synth chords for company, and that tiny burst of lyrical detail
You and me are destined
To spend the rest of our lives with each other
The rest of our days like two lovers
For ever – yeah – for ever
I’ve seen it guessed that Bijou is the name of another of Freddie’s cats. In which case, fuck yeah. But apparently there’s no evidence Freddie had a cat named Bijou, apart form the fact that Bijou is a great name for a cat.
Picturing Freddie and Brian in the studio, I can’t help thinking that it’s actually just about them. Imagine the time they spent together over the years, pouring over instruments and engineering sounds together. Locked in tiny rooms, working hard and patiently on creative emotions. I can picture them recording this together in a deeply intimate way, but I have no idea if I’m just shipping unnecessarily (and obvs Freddie and John are the OTP here).
Looking at those tiny words though, it’s not entirely untrue. Freddie did spend his last days trying to get in the studio to be with the band whenever he was well enough. Brian still carries around Queen wherever he goes, I imagine he feels the itch of a phantom Freddie more often than not.
But of course, Freddie also spent his last days with Jim Hutton, whose wedding ring he wore as he died. And realistically, this has to be a sweet little piece of emotional labour for the man he shared his last years with. It’s a sweet tiny love song, as bijou as love really is. A tiny, but immensely valuable thing. A tiny feeling that swells to fill lives, to tie them together.
It’s sad, but it’s kind. The kind of gift you need, in those times.
I’m never much of a fan of quiet and sad guitar noodles, but this feels spacious and warm in a way that feels necessary. Small and sweet, with every attention paid to the quieter moments, the slide of hands on the strings delicate and careful as anything more explicit.
And Freddie just owns his brief moment. Keeping it simple and full of heart.
It’s the saddest moment on an often heartbreaking record. And May almost keeps a lid on his most baroque tendencies.
But it isn’t just sad. It’s filled with hope. It’s still calling for eternities. For forevers. Because love.
Unless it’s just about being trapped in a tiny flat, a tiny room, alone.
In which case I’m so desperately sad.
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.