It’s literally just Freddie saying the word ‘yeah’.
I think this is just a weird bit of trolling as much as anything. The CD ends with a hidden track, but in fact, it’s two. This is quite clearly the end of the last one, but it gets its own track marker, making this four second mostly (not quite) silence the shortest Queen track in existence. I’ve got the vinyl here, and it doesn’t show up as a separate track, but I’m going with a combination of different interpretations of the finale here.
Why, would I want to review a single word?
Because it’s Freddie, isn’t it.
This isn’t the best example of Freddie’s vocal work. It’s a recording from the middle of the band’s career, and it’s already at least the second time we’ve heard it on this record. It’s just the word yeah, ever so slightly distorted. It’s not like one of his distinctive ad libs, or those great caterwauling moments or one of those weird little scatty details or anything, it’s just the word yeah.
But it matters, because Freddie is everything. He had to get the last word, and it might as well be yeah.
Freddie’s voice is this magnificent and immediately recognisable thing. It’s this perfectly welcoming tone, begging you to sing and play and dance along. He builds words with that voice, and takes you into them. It was so obvious from the very start of the very first record, here was someone who could sing to entrance. It’s still apparent in these last fragments too. The last recordings that do make it on to this record remain powerful, honest and wonderful.
It’s that voice. So familiar, so immediate.
While all talented, and all bringing their own wonderful things to the band, without Freddie, and his voice, Queen could never have been.
It’s a simple thing, and I think that’s why this record contains this, and why this track is all on it’s own.
Partly it’s for the segue, from the ascending power of the reprise, to the blissful and otherworldly landscape of the actual ending, something needs to bookend and begin, and given this ritualistic set of music is all about Freddie, it had to be Freddie.
And actually, for all the relative blandness of this Yeah compared to so many others, or so many other possible moments, this was just a simple Freddie. This wasn’t something with baggage. It was just a yes, a simple statement.
I’m going to mention one thing about this version, even though I don’t think it’s in anyway canon.
I’ve got the vinyl remaster of this record, and it’s what I’m listening to now. But there’s a weird feature here, and one that is weirdly, personally for me, inextricably linked up with death.
You see, this four second track, normally just the word yeah and the beginnings of the ambient soundtrack of the next and actually final track, is infinite in this medium. The quiet synthesised background hum, almost inaudible really, runs into the end groove of the record. It is looping forever, and will continue until the power runs out.
A few records do this, and it’s always kind of fascinating, but the one that springs to mind is personally just a little heartbreaking for me.
As a teenager, at the same time as I was ironically loving Scandal, I was also very fond of Warp electronica, and developing my taste for minimal techno. Two Lone Swordsmen’s Tiny Reminder was a favourite, including its short ambient pieces. In particular, that one time my friend told me that Constant Reminder, the final piece, was just a perfect thing that should go on forever.
He died later that year, and I also eventually got it on vinyl. Drunk one night, I put it on before falling unconscious, and woke in the middle of the night to find it still going. You can see where I’m going here, I’m sure. The end groove of the record was still playing that final constant reminder.
I drunkenly rolled over, and tapped my partner’s shoulder excitedly, ‘Oh my god, I have to tell Will about this, it actually does last forever.’ Only as I finished the thought did I remember. I could never tell him. He was gone.
I think I cried for an hour or more.
Eternity, even feigned at, is always wrapped up in death. Perhaps they are the same thing.
So yeah. I’m sitting here, listening to this track spin forever, and I’m haunted.
Which I guess is the point, but I just don’t know how they knew.
Let me know what forever looks like.
(Or maybe don’t. Forever scares me more than anything.)
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.