It sounds like a joke, a dentist, an artist, an astrophysicist, and an electrical engineer walk into a club … yet these are the real professions of the men who made up the band Queen. Their magic touched countless lives, and the untimely death of Freddy Mercury at just forty-five years of age is still mourned by music-lovers worldwide. Now the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, currently out in theaters, depicts Mercury and the band's journey and the strange alchemy that brought disparate people into rock and roll hall of fame harmony.
The movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, centers on Mercury's life. Often movies of this sort come off tawdry, corny, even tedious. But this bio-pic transported me back to an era that transformed music as we knew it.
The behind the scenes glimpse at how their music was made, the maniacal fervor driving Mercury, the constant restlessness of the musicians and of an era, reminded me of the craziness of that era and the majesty (no pun intended) of their generation. (Come on, need I say more than Live Aid?)
What I love most about Queen's music is the complexity. Whether outright opera, or rockabilly or disco, the orchestration, the poetic lyrics, the rhythm, and the layering of sound, provide a listening experience yet to be duplicated by any other band.
Bohemian Rhapsody Trailer:
Lessons from Queen:
1. Experts can be wrong:
Queen taught me the classical music training I received could be applied to any musical genre and people are willing to try new ideas. Naysayers and negative people — who believed only simple music could be appreciated by a general audience — were simply incorrect. Just as untrue as a six minute single being impossible to release (BR was six minutes long).
2. Don't bore yourself or others:
What Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie taught me, was that Queen was constantly reforming itself, reinventing, experimenting, pushing boundaries. They refused to stick to any one sound or musical genre. Frankly, their constant refusal to be bored was the core of their success.
So when an editor or agent tells me to pick one genre and stick to it — to apply the magical formula my audience prefers and never stray again — I need to know they may be wrong. People out there are willing to give the new a try, and if I'm not true to myself, I'll never attain true creative satisfaction.
So watch out world, here I come, with stories only I can tell, only I can write, and only you the reader can judge.
3. Live with confidence:
What Freddy Mercury taught me was to be myself at full bore. Sometimes I feel my interests are too particular to my own taste. Surely, no one will want to read what I write — either in books or in posts here, but Freddy had no such qualms. He had confidence in himself in a way I envy. Because he was interested and giving it his all, his audience followed. He trusted there were people who would like what he did, and this is a lesson I must master.
So, in this new year, I promise to be brave, and to try, for Freddy, for me, and for you. 🙂
See the movie now:
In the meantime, I suspect Bohemian Rhapsody isn't the kind of movie to play well on TV. The experience of the big screen, an amazing theatrical sound system engulfing viewers in pure audio paradise, the sweeping cinematic photography inserting the viewer into the audience with Freddy and his pals up on that stage, is priceless, and not something replicable at home.
So go, now before it's gone and it's too late. If you love rock, if you love Queen, you owe it to yourself.
Oh, and bring hankies. Need I say more?