Like the last one, this was never officially titled, but it’s listed as thirteen on the fourth side of this record, a side which it occupies the entirety of.
I don’t think anyone expected Queen to do a twenty minute ambient track, but then, what else were they supposed to do.
It’s just a looped and slowed drone, lifted from the start of It’s a beautiful day, and stretched into forever, with occasional details and fragments layered over the top. Rain and haunting voices, and little bursts of other instruments. It was the producer’s handiwork, mostly, with details from Roger and Brian.
Essentially, it’s schmaltz, some kind of abstract representation of heaven to keep the title relevant, and give somewhere for Freddie to rest. It is quite challenging schmaltz, though, as these things go. It shifts in volume, but rarely tempo, not quite entirely wordless, but most of the words sound alien and lost and forgotten.
Are you running?
It’s a haunting and weird thing, but I can’t work out if it feels right. It’s not very Queen, but then Queen without Freddie was never going to be Queen, really. So stepping out, and just firmly pushing this strange little thing into the ears of those left listening to the CD (until this reissue, it wasn’t on vinyl or tape versions of the record, at least not in full). It’s an indulgence, in some ways, but not an unpleasant one. It feels a bit too aimless, for my ambient tastes, or rather, it lets itself get distracted.
But it feels about right.
And Freddie gets one more chance to get the last word in. With one final word, after everything’s gone quiet.
It’s strange to think it’s over. That Queen finished here.
It’s not entirely true, of course, with some of the band forming a new variant with other singers, but I’m not going to go near that stuff with a barge pole.
For me it always ended here, if not before.
Endings are strange things, because they aren’t entirely real. They tend to be a simplification, or only make sense on certain levels of understanding. Mostly things just become other things, it’s almost a law of nature, as I understand it.
Freddie died, but he became many other things at that point. In practical terms, he stayed being a body, just one that started rotting and decaying. His matter remains, left behind and blurring back into everything else. More romantically, he lives in these records, and in our memories, and every time we sing along.
And I guess that’s what this track is trying to convey. It might be another simplification to call it heaven, but it’s saying there is something after the end. The record finish, but there’s something left to do, to say, to leave behind.
I don’t think it’s a great piece of music, or even a great piece of production, but it is what it is, and that is okay.
Because it makes sense to remind people that nothing ever gets used up, only changed into something new.
Because we do keep on forgetting.
Or at least, I do.
Having said that, though, this is the end of this.
Thanks Freddie, Roger, Brian and John.
I still love you, after all you’ve put me through.
Because without you, I wouldn’t be here, and this wouldn’t be me.
You helped me change and become.
We’re not finished.
Even at the end.
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.
Thanks everyone. This was hard, weird and probably not what you were looking for. But I did try!