Queen, "I'm Going Slightly Mad"

>> Saturday, September 15, 2012

This was me yesterday, actually. But then somebody said something clever about Mitt Romney saying something stupid, and we went with that. But I figured, "Hey, set it to go tomorrow."

There's a certain ambivalence watching the video again after all these years. The campiness is grating, but you're watching a dead man walking (and crawling, and mugging, and all that), which gives the thing a gravity it wouldn't have if Innuendo hadn't been the band's final album.

Final album for all intents and purposes. The survivors staggered on, sort of, with various tribute-ish products, though I don't think they ever really tried to put out any new material under the Queen band. Hard to know what to do, I guess: it's sort of obvious, and probably was obvious to the remaining members of Queen, that Freddie Mercury defined the band, somehow, even if Queen was one of those rare acts where all the individual members not only got single songwriter credits, but each of them even had penned at least one number one hit for the band. Sort of hard, though, to just give up on something you've spent your whole life building, though.

And it's impossible to define why some bands can go on without a core member with equal or greater success (e.g. Genesis, post-Peter Gabriel) and some bands can't (e.g. Genesis, post-Phil Collins). You might suspect it has something to do with charisma, but then you'd have to account for why any band with Robert Fripp is King Crimson even though Robert Fripp just isn't a particularly magnetic personality. You might suspect it has something to do with creative genius, but Pink Floyd did very well for themselves without Syd Barrett. (I was tempted to use Fleetwood Mac for that example, but I have to be honest: I consider replacing Peter Green with Lindsey Buckingham a trade up, and I can't even think that's a controversial opinion beyond a small clutter of crazed zealots living in some kind of bunkerlike Green temple waiting to be swept up in the Grapture during the Greenpocalypse.)

I also have a little bit of a hard time deciding if Innuendo was really ever as good as I thought it was when it came out, or was my judgment of it fossilized when Freddie Mercury semisuddenly died? Semisuddenly. Because it was out of nowhere and yet you saw him and heard him during the year he stuck around to promote the new record, and you knew he wasn't well and had it in the back of your mind what the cause of death was going to turn out to be. He kept it a secret, but I don't think it was much of a secret. It's a measure of how things have changed for the better, not just that people live longer and better, but I don't think he would have felt condemned to silence in this day and age, could have just said, "Yeah, I'm HIV positive, doctor says I'm doing well, thanks for your concern." Back then, well, you know--we were pretty stupid. Twenty years, a long, short time. But, yeah, I think the songs mostly hold up. It's no Night At The Opera, but nothing else ever was, was it?


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