Babies, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” & Uber Rides

I had a wonderful day!

I took an Uber to my daughter Aimee’s a couple of hours away and spent a few hours holding her four-month old baby (my grandbaby!) and had time with my other toddler granddaughter, too. It was glorious being with all of them.

I also got to fold clothes which is my favorite chore to do ever ever.

As I held the child in my family line, I began singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to her. She seemed to like it, smiling at me at one point. Then, from the kitchen, I hear someone joining my voice, singing along. I got chills and kept singing. It was wonderful to know so many people know this amazing song.

Ubering

I was tired when I left, so put my earbuds in for the two hour ride home and dozed to my Queen playlist.

I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” playing and, confused, took one of my earbuds out only to hear “BoRhap” playing on the driver’s sound system. I laughed and asked him how he knew “Bohemian Rhapsody” and he said, “Doesn’t everybody?” When I asked how old he was, he said 22 and I was floored.

“When was the first time you heard this song?”

“I’ve always known it.”

In my head I laughed. I think kids are born knowing it now. A from-the-womb sort of thing.

“Killer Queen” came on and I asked, “Are you playing a Queen playlist?”

“I am,” he said.

All I could do was laugh and thank him for being so cool.

He started “Bohemian Rhapsody” again and we sang together; the entire song.

Second Time

This was the second time a driver had a Queen playlist. The second time the driver was in his twenties and knew every word to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

How random is this?

Apparently, not so random after all.

7 O’clock News/Silent Night

I am making a 70s Playlist to listen to as I write during NaNoWriMo, which starts in one week from tomorrow.

As I pulled up Simon and Garfunkel, I came across the 7 O’clock News/Silent Night that I’d heard as a young teen, but could not have understood completely.

Tonight I listened to it and wept at the juxtaposition they created and how so little has changed. Except there is no 7 O’clock news anymore. But with 24/7 news, it makes it even more alarming because Silent Night would have to be on a constant loop to accompany the world’s horrors.

Young people need to hear this. I hope some will React to it on YouTube come the holiday season.

Or tomorrow.

There is no “season” this sadness is appropriate, but the message is very much needed every day of the year.

What’s an “Operator?” – (Thanks, Rick Beato!)

Rick Beato is one of my favorite YouTubers. He is a fantastic guitar player and music teacher who dissects songs that often go over my head (as a non-musician), but enough of the time I do understand enough to keep watching since I do love music and played flute and piccolo for many years. I watch him even if it’s just to hear music-speak; it’s all fascinating.

He had a segment with Mary Spender, another musician YouTuber, and they talked about Jim Croce’s song “Operator” which was written in 1972. While the majority of the discussion was music-oriented, I was piqued by his mentioning items in the song that younger people probably have no clue about. I am talking about the time around 1972 in this post.

I’m writing this specifically for my kids and grandkids, but I’m spring boarding off you, Rick… thanks!

Operator Jim Croce

Baseline: Our Family’s Telephone

This was on the kitchen wall at the house where I grew up. I made the pic bigger so you could see the numbers in the middle of the dial.

Operator Jim Croce
First, there is the dial. You put your finger in the hole and spin it around to dial the number. This is why we still say “dial a phone” – we did! The area code says 305… the same area code written there decades after it changed to 407. And the phone number where I grew up – 855-9485 – always imprinted in my mind. This phone was corded, as they all were then, with a short cord until they the made longer ones when I was a teenager. Still, the long ones didn’t go very far and got really tangled, so that was annoying.
Operator Jim Croce
Same phone showing the short cord.

Party Lines

Until I was about 11 years old (1972), we had a party line. That’s when several households shared one phone line. Not number, but line. When our phone number was called, we had a certain ring. When the other houses’ numbers were called, they had their own distinct rings. Some rings were two short rings, a break, and then a longer ring. Something like that. But, if you wanted to… and many did… you could pick up the phone and listen in on the other people’s calls. You could talk, too, but mostly people just wanted to listen in. Privacy was not a thing back then. The major reasons, clearly, were the party line and the short phone cord.

If you needed to make a call and someone from the party line was on their phone, you either had to wait until they were done or tell them you needed the phone and hope they hung up. More often than not, they did not hang up and you got angrier and angrier the longer they talked. I distinctly remember my mom trying to get one of the teens off the line for quite awhile and ended up slamming the phone down after calling her a bitch. I asked what a bitch was and my mom, ever the avoider, said, “I said, ‘witch.'” I can hear her yelling bitch all these decades later.

Slamming a Phone Down

Operator Jim Croce

Busy Signal

If you were on the phone and another person was trying to call you, they got a busy signal. They would get a busy signal until you hung up the phone. No one could get through. There was no call-waiting until I was an adult.

We didn’t have Caller ID until well after call-waiting came around.

There was one phone number per house until I was in my late teens when parents got their own lines in their bedrooms. Which we used when they weren’t home because we could lie on the bed and yack for hours. Our parents would call their line and know we were on it. For hours. We always got in trouble, but did it anyway.

It’s so odd to think we know exactly who is calling now. People can call and get a ring even if someone is talking to us, and we can go anywhere there is a signal, even lying on our beds.

Prank Calls

How many of you remember either placing prank calls during slumber parties or receiving dirty prank calls on Saturday nights?

I remember both.

We were giggling girls calling random numbers and giggling more when some unsuspecting person picked up their phone. We would do any number of silly things; ask them what they were wearing… ask, “Is your refrigerator running? Then go catch it!” It’s embarrassing me to even write that I did these things. At the time, they were hilarious.

The scary ones were the calls in to us. Heavy breathing men who, now I know, were probably wanking. We didn’t know that then, though. Men who tried to talk dirty to us. We would quickly hang up and nervously laugh about what they said.

The worst were when they tried to terrify us with murder or rape talk. We couldn’t hang up fast enough, but not before we clung to each other in fear.

It’s odd thinking prank phone calls are a thing in our past that shan’t be repeated.

“Help Me Place This Call?”

In the first line of the song “Operator,” we have an operator who, among other things, was someone who would dial for the caller.

“Operator, oh, could you help me place this call?”

Operator Jim Croce

ATT – American Telephone and Telegraph Company operator. ATT acquired Bell Telephone in 1885 and was the phone company until 1984 when the US government broke ATT into parts, eliminating their monopoly.

Women (and they were always women) were hired to be telephone operators and they had a few jobs, but mainly (from what I know), they talked to people who dialed 0 (zero) on a phone. Back then there was no 911, so if there was an emergency, you dialed 0 and they would connect you to who you needed… fire, ambulance, or police. Operators were initially around the country and you never knew where you would get an Operator so that made it difficult if you needed emergency help, so they were eventually hired more locally, in an area code, for example.

Area Codes

Sorry this is jumping around, but things are popping out as I write that need to be addressed before the next item. Didn’t expect the rabbit hole with the word “operator,” did you?

Before I was born, phone numbers were different than they are now. They often combined letters and numbers. In 1972, they were different, too. Then, we had seven numbers unless we were calling out of our area. Then we had to use the area code before the seven numbers. An area code grouped regions together.

The area code for Orlando and surrounding areas was 305 when I was growing up. That went all the way down the southeast to Key West. So if we were calling anywhere in our area code, there was no extra fee. As Orlando and everywhere else grew, they needed more area codes and in 1988, Orlando’s changed from 305 to 407. It was quite distressing to lose our 305, but now no one gives it a second thought. Today, Orlando also has 321 area code numbers.

As we all know, even if you are calling next door, you have to dial the area code. Ten number dialing is totally normal for us now.

Pay Phones

Operator Jim Croce
A phone booth with the folding door.

In the olden days, we had to pay for calls – to dial the pay phone (hence its name) and to pay for long-distance calls (“distance” being quite arbitrary). If you didn’t have money for a call, for many years, you were out of luck. Rarely, you could beg an operator (who you could call even without money) to place a call for you.

Operator Jim Croce
Note the dial with numbers and letters by the finger slot. Phone numbers used letters in my mom’s day. By the time I was dialing a phone, only numbers were used. See also where you put the coins at the top? You had to carry a lot of change for long-distance calls.

In my mom’s time, calls were a nickel (five cents). In mine, they were a dime (ten cents) and that lasted for a very long time. In 1981, Bell Systems raised prices around the country to a quarter (25 cents) a call.

To make a long-distance call, you would need many quarters to pay for the call, putting the coins in as the operator told you how much to put into the phone. I always found it interesting how they knew the amount I put in and would continue the call. If, while you were talking, the money/time ran out, the operator would break in tell you to deposit more. If you could put a lot in, you wouldn’t be interrupted as much and, as far as I remember, if your call finished before you ran out of money, the coins would drop down into the coin return thingie.

The Coin Return

Operator Jim Croce

An annoying thing happened a lot; when you put a coin in, it would just drop to the coin return. Did the phone or operator think you put a Canadian coin in the phone? You would put the same coin in, trying several times, and invariably, it would fall through to the coin return slot. Occasionally, the repeat try would actually work and that was worthy of a “whoopeeeee!” as it echoed inside the small enclosed booth.

It was normal for everyone to check the coin return for coins someone forgot to get out before they left the phone booth. If there were phone booths today, I would be checking for loose change in them, that’s how ingrained that behavior was.

Operator Jim Croce
Accurate meme.

Collect Calls

If we didn’t have money, but had to call someone, we could… or would… call collect.

Me: “I need to make a collect call to 305-855-9485. My name is Barbie.”

Operator talking to the person called: “I have a collect call from Barbie. Will you accept the charges?” I could hear the operator ask that question.

Whomever I was calling would either accept or refuse the call. If they refused it could be one of two reasons; one, they didn’t want to talk to me, or two, I was calling to let them know I was okay and they didn’t need to accept the charge. We would do that if we needed to check in and didn’t want to spend money.

What machinations!

Operator Jim Croce

Third Party Calling

Third party billing could be demonstrated best by my I-Ran-Away-From-Home story.

Me: “Operator, I need to make a call and charge it to (random area code and number).”

Operator: “Okay.”

Me: (talking to parents for free and some stranger got charged for the call) – (gift: bad karma)

Occasionally, the operator would call that third number to see if they would pay, then I would hang up and try another operator. Invariably, within a couple three calls, I could call for free without my parents ever knowing. Years later, I learned people did not have to pay for those stranger calls. I was quite relieved.

Finding a Number

Jim Croce’s next line is:

“And give me the number if you can find it”

At one time, operators did look things up for us. Remember, there was a time, in my lifetime, that there were no computers. They had to turn the phone book’s pages just like we did on this end of the phone.

Operator Jim Croce
A public pay phone booth with hanging phone book, encased in a plastic cover.

While there were phone books hanging on pay phones, it wasn’t uncommon to have a page ripped out because someone wanted to save the number for future reference. I doubt many people thought, “Gee, what if someone needs this page?” They were in their own heads and kept the page they wanted.

Once computers came around, a new type of operator was born – the Information, or 411, Operator. I had a partner who was a 411 operator and it was one of the strangest jobs ever. A call-center job, people asked the oddest questions.

“What is the airline closest to the airport?”

“What is the closest taxi to my house?”

Operator Jim Croce
Antique Call Center

They thought they called 911 all the time and 411 finally started forwarding it instead of trying to explain the person needed to hang up and dial again. Alternately, 911 had the same issue with people calling to ask for the number to Shakey’s Pizza.

Phone Books

Yes another obsolete item attached to the phones of the past.

Operator Jim Croce
A stack of smaller phone books. Some were several inches thick. The Yellow Pages (what they were called) were ads. The White Pages (also what they were called) were residences.
Operator Jim Croce
Notice the 7-digit numbers. No area code needed to be used wherever this was.
Operator Jim Croce
Yellow Pages Ads

Phone books came every year in December for the year ahead. The ads cost money and it was a big thing to be in the phone book. It was how everyone found what they were looking for.

When people were short, they would sometimes sit on a big phone book to lift them up. In the car, kids at the dinner table, in high chairs.

Come December, when we knew the new phone book would be out soon, a lot of people made Phone Book Christmas Trees. We did this a lot. Tons of glitter. Messy.

Operator Jim Croce
How to make a Phone Book Christmas tree.
Operator Jim Croce
Glitter Phone Book Christmas Tree

Who Does Not Hang Up On You?

The second-to-the-last verse says:

“Operator, oh, let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime”

It was wonderful to hear that soothing female voice on the other end at times, especially when you were scared and waiting for the police or ambulance to arrive. She was someone who would talk to you and not randomly hang up.

I know many of us felt like Jim Croce, only having that voice to validate our existence.

Bless the telephone operators.

“Death on Two Legs”: When a Writer Gets Revenge

There are plenty of songs, articles, and posts about getting revenge on someone through words.

There might not be any better song than “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…)” by Queen on the 1975 A Night at the Opera album.

Death on two legs
Tearing me apart
Death on two legs
You never had a heart (You never did)
Of your own (Right from the start)
Insane, should be put inside
You’re a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride
Should be made unemployed
Then make yourself null and void
Make me feel good (I feel good)

This section is not even the worst of the lyrics. Give a listen for the whole picture.

Warnings Abound

When Googling “Revenge Memoir” a slew of posts and articles come up explaining why revenge memoirs are not the way to go about exacting revenge on someone.

It seems like revenge songs are way more common. They would be fun to sing, wouldn’t they?

Queen’s “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…)” was about their first manager, Norman Sheffield, who swirled in Queen’s money while they were still broke. While Sheffield’s name or job was not mentioned, Sheffield outed himself by suing Queen for defamation. They settled out of court and Sheffield, many years later, wrote Life on Two Legs: Set the Record Straight where, of course, he denied stealing from Queen.

What I Wish I Could Write

There are plenty of people in my life, including midwives, who I wish I could write trash about. Sadly, I doubt that will ever happen. If I do write about my midwifery life, the bitches will be composites and while they can’t know for absolute sure, they will know who they are by their own words still floating around trying to stab me and polluting their own air.

That felt good.

(And yes I know my own words affect me, but they are inside even if you don’t see or hear them and writing them outside is a release. Of sorts. I’ll accept the consequences.)

The following song is perfect to close on.

Funko Roger Finally Arrived! (Quite Hungover)

I got the notice that Roger had arrived, but when I checked my doorstep, it was empty. I looked the 1/8 mile up to the mailbox and saw the box hanging out.

I got dressed, put shoes on, brushed my hair, grabbed my phone in case I fell down and needed help, and began my hike out to the front 40.

Not used to trudging further than to the kitchen, I walked. Rested. Walked. Rested. Cursing Roger the whole way. If there was an Uber that could have picked him up to bring his too-hungover-to-walk-to-the-house-himself Funko, I would have called one. Instead, I had to go pick the yummy idol up m’self (my bad British accent there).

Finally in my arms, Roger’s box (haha, as opposed to allllll the other of Roger’sboxes“) tucked under my arm, I hiked back to the homestead, again in fits and starts. Again, cussing at Roger for not being sober enough to walk his own ass to his new home.

Roger Finally Joins the Queen Funko Team

Once I caught my breath in the house, the journey became irrelevant as I scissored the box open, opened the Funko box, and tipped Roger out of the clear, hard plastic into my hands.

Roger Taylor Queen Funko
Queen’s Roger Taylor Funko

Do you see his hooded eyelids? He even looks hungover! If I had sunglasses, I would put them on him because I’m sure the light is a tad much for his brain at the moment.

My Own Funk-Y World

Above, you get to see how my bizarre mind works. I should put these mental shenanigans on paper and make some cash out of it.

Watch Roger’s amazing live performance of his song “I’m in Love With My Car.” It’s the second song in this medley starting with “Killer Queen.”

It’s gloriously fantastic!

How Have I Lived Without Dolls?

There have been no dolls in the house since the kids were little and even then, I don’t remember playing with them, making them listen and talk. The last time I remember playing with dolls was with Barbie Dolls. I was about eight before I was “too old” for them.

Queen Funkos Are the Bomb

I am having the best time with my Funko Deacy (John), Freddie, and Brian. I’m still waiting for party-boy Roger to arrive. I talk to them all the time. It’s so funny how easy they are to talk to. Avid listeners, they hold their instruments and Freddie has a grip on his mic. I squint and wonder if Freddie is going to hold his microphone out for me to speak into. He’s not remembering that what I share is kind of private.

(I am so crazy.)

Queen Funkos
John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May – Queen Funkos

Writing as Dolls

I have kept journals for decades and suppose I talk to the pages as I am to the dolls, but something feels different. I get up to grab a Diet Coke and ask the boys (for they were boys then; ask Bri) to make sure no one takes my seat. Or I ask them to monitor the phone and let me know if I’m getting a call. I’ve never done that with writing.

With writing, I am talking to myself and then answering myself. In writing, it’s more introspection – just like here in the blog.

Would writing as dolls be all dialogue? Would I ask, then answer?

It seems quicker to just yack with the boys.

Sing for me, Barbie!

Freddie & Bri (Funkos) Move In

Freddie and Brian came today and already I am yacking with them about their new song Face It Alone (below) that came out today. Deacy (John), quiet as always, just listens. Roger needs to get here, but he is probably sleeping with some Funko Babe and running late.

Funko Freddie Mercury Brian May
Freddie Mercury and Brian May Queen Funkos

I’m the Village Crazy Lady

I really am hilariously nuts.

My Funkos Need Air

People are hollering about my taking the Queen Funkos out of their boxes, but I am not a collector. I want them where I can touch them, hold them, and yes, even talk to them.

I haven’t had a doll in far too long.

This is rather cool.

A Writer’s Lament: “Face It Alone”

Queen dropped a new song this morning. It’s so beautiful!

Queen is credited as the songwriters, but it’s clear Freddie Mercury had a large hand in this beauty. It was written as he was sick with AIDS, knowing he was destined to die. The poignancy is palpable.

As is usual with Queen’s music, and all music for that matter, the meaning of the song shifts depending on the listener. I hear it as a writer’s lament, the solitude of writing, and how the words burn inside, needing to escape.

A new song added to my Queen Meditation Playlist, I shall listen as Freddie, and Queen, sing to me as I write.

Queen: Face It Alone (Lyrics)
Video Below

When something so near and dear to life,
Explodes inside,
You feel your soul,
Is set on fire.

When something so deep and so far and wide,
Falls down beside,
Your cries can be heard,
So loud and clear.

Your life is your own,
You’re in charge of yourself,
Master of your home,
In the end,
In the end,
You have to face it all alone.

When something so dear to your life,
Explodes inside,
You feel your soul,
Is burned alive (burned alive).

When something so deep and so far and wide,
Falls down beside,
Your cries can be heard,
So loud and clear.

Your life is your own,
You’re in charge of yourself,
Master of your home,
In the end,
In the end,
You have to face it alone.

When the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon has, when the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon, when the moon has lost its glow,
You have to face it all alone.

Bipolar Diary: “Clocks”

I’m trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my mind. (Is there ever any figuring it out, though?)

The clock is driving me crazy. It feels, quite literally.

That Damn Clock

When the kids were babies, watching the clock was the worst thing I could do. I would look at the clock to see how long I had been asleep before being awakened again to nurse. With Tristan, I would get angry seeing it had only been 15 minutes… or 30… or 50… or even 3 hours. I believed I couldn’t get enough sleep.

Meghann was born when Tristan was 19 months old and I started the same frustrating cycle, feeling my anger rising again. Being angry at a baby isn’t a proper emotion with a newborn/baby/toddler/child especially when it is 100% their innate behavior, so I reached out and asked for help.

Best Parenting Advice Ever

My experienced-in-natural-birth-and-parenting friends had The Solution.

Cover the clocks.

If I did not know how long I had slept, I could stay in the moment and be the mom I wanted to be: present and relaxed.

I’ve since shared that advice hundreds of times, knowing the benefits first-hand.

Clocks Meghann
Meghann sleeping with newborn Gabriella… without a clock.

If There Were No Clocks

If we lived in the wilderness, the jungle, the desert, hundreds/thousands/millions of years ago, we would look to the sun, moon, and seasons for the passage of time. If the sky was covered with clouds, we would be guessing. Nursing moms would look into the eyes of their babies when they cried, not upward to watch the passage of time in a 24-hour day.

“Watch the baby, not the clock,” was a mantra I shared with all new parents.

Clocking the Time

My job requires a clock. I have to know the time a call starts, then look at the work timekeeper to see how long I have been talking. I have to write the time down for each call three times. While I can clock in and out when I want to, I have to “clock” in and “clock” out.

I look at my (now) blue glowing digital clock dozens of times a day for a variety of personal reasons pertaining to health and household needs.

The clock hangs heavy around my neck. Especially the digital one because it does this fluctuating weird shit I can’t explain. Sometimes it glows. Sometimes it’s 3-D. Sometimes it’s flat. Sometimes the numbers float.

Clocks

I thought when my hallucinations stopped, the clock was going to chill, but it has not. Instead, it’s taken on a new design of continuous motion within its metal container.

Disconcerting doesn’t begin to explain how it feels.

I wish I could cover it. I really wish I could yank the plug and throw it away. I’ve thought about getting a new clock, but the idea of a strange resident is scarier than what I have looking at me right now.

I’ll look outside the window as much as I can.

“Confusion never stopsClosing walls and ticking clocks, gonnaCome back and take you homeI could not stop that you now know, singing”

“Clocks” – Coldplay

Stormy “Love of My Life” – Writing Meditation

I came across this beautiful YouTube audio of Brian May playing Freddie Mercury’s “Love of My Life” on his classical guitar set to a wonderful gentle stormy night backdrop.

It’s an hour long – set on constant repeat for me – writing meditation. I thought someone else might benefit from this beauty.

Below the solo guitar is the video of Brian playing in concert while Freddie Mercury sings.

Exquisite.

Thank you, Freddie and Bri.

Thank you so very much.

Love of my life, you’ve hurt meYou’ve broken my heartAnd now you leave meLove of my life, can’t you see?
 
Bring it back, bring it backDon’t take it away from meBecause you don’t knowWhat it means to me
 
Love of my life, don’t leave meYou’ve taken my love (my love)And now desert meLove of my life, can’t you see? (Please bring it back)
 
Bring it back, bring it back (back)Don’t take it away from me (take it away from me)Because you don’t know (ooh-ooh-ooh know)What it means to me (means to me)
 
You will rememberWhen this is blown overAnd everything’s all by the way (ooh)When I grow older (yeah)I will be there at your side (ooh)To remind you how I still love you (to remind you)(I still love you)
 
Back, hurry back (back, back)Please, bring it back home to me (bring it back home to me)Because you don’t know (ooh-ooh-ooh know)What it means to me (means to me)
 
Love of my lifeLove of my life(Ooh, ooh)
-written by Freddie Mercury

“Mama Told Me Not to Come”

On the heels of my “How Can I Write This Crazy Drug and Sex-Induced Book?” comes Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”

“Want some whiskey in your water?
Sugar in your tea?
What’s all these crazy questions they’re askin’ me?
This is the craziest party that could ever be
Don’t turn on the lights ’cause I don’t wanna see”

Clearly, it’s encouraging me to just keep writing.

Everywhere I turn, there is The Message.

“She saw Fancy pressed up against a wall in Leo’s room while a muscular man held his head by the hair and, through gritted teeth said, ‘Spread your legs. I’m gonna fuck you, faggot.’” – In the Bushes/WIP by Barb Herrera

“Write, Barb! No matter how crazy. Just keep writing.”

I’m am! I am.

Under-Appreciated: Hate/Love of Artists II

In Part I of Under-Appreciated: Hate/Love of Artists, I shared thoughts about critics, one in particular, John Rockwell of the New York Times who critiqued a Queen concert on the Jazz Tour in 1978. I saw a concert on this tour in Lakeland, Florida two weeks before he did in New York City.

Roger Taylor and Brian May
Roger Taylor and Brian May 1970s

More Recent Judgements of Queen

While I have not seen a Queen concert live since 1978, I have watched as many as exist on YouTube showing the Queen + Paul Rodgers tours beginning in 2005, continuing with the Queen + Adam Lambert tours beginning in 2011.

Being a Queenie, of course I love the following reviews, most taken during a Queen + Adam Lambert tour, and I agree with them wholeheartedly.

Amsterdam

“The show at the Ziggo Dome was nothing short of majestic and overwhelming.”

‘”…a setlist that goes from climax to climax.”

Cologne

“… in the sold-out Lanxess Arena in Cologne, the 51-year-old Queen presented itself breathtakingly vital, and it did not seem that this rocking monarchy with masterfully staged theatricality and glitter pomp is anywhere near its end.”

Berlin

“Champions, that’s what Queen were on that night…the show must go on, and that for years to come, it certainly wouldn’t be a mistake.”

“One could literally see their joy to play in May and Taylor’s eyes.”

Roger Taylor Brian May Getty
Roger Taylor and Brian May – Getty Images

“Queen anthems such as ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, ‘Crazy Little Things Called Love’ and ‘Love Of My Life’ all sounded really fresh…and May happily demonstrated again and again with impressive, but never too long, solos why he and his guitar have created a sound for eternity.”

Birmingham

“Brian and Roger put on an energetic display that would put most younger bands to shame. Cracking gig!! 5 Stars.”

“A wonderful night and a wonderful show. Queen still rock.”

“…an emotional universe and beyond.” 5 Stars

Belfast

“For any Queen fan, this will be the closest thing to a religious experience.”

“Two and a half hours of jaw-dropping spectacle and euphoria.”

“The rock icons blew the roof off the SSE Arena with a simply electrifying performance.”

What I Love

Roger Taylor Brian May
Brian May and Roger Taylor

Knowing the critics can see the joy and love in Bri and Rog’s eyes while they perform propels my continuing to read reviews at all. Queenies can’t be the only ones who get why Queen still performs.

If you have not watched or listened to Queen in awhile, it’s time you do.

Start with the last album they completed before Freddie died, Innuendo. It has become my absolute favorite. I still love Made in Heaven, of course, but Innuendo is incredible.

Enjoy!

12-Year Old Nandi Bushell Drops “The Shadows”

If you have not discovered Nandi Bushell yet, now is the time. Nandi’s YouTube channel will introduce you to her amazing talents that include incredible drumming, great guitar and bass playing, time on the piano, and now professionally showing us her singing skills.

Not only singing for us to hear, but she is demonstrating her beautiful songwriting talents, too.

Nandi Bushell Shadows

Nandi Sings for Her Father

As she tells it, her father fell into a depression earlier this year so she wrote him a song to let him know how loved he is and how he is not alone. What 12 year old understands the depths of depression in a parent so intensely, she writes a love song to him?

“When your fears have taken their toll
When the demons have gotten control
When the shadows won’t leave you alone
I’ll be there
When all your rainbows turned into black
When the sun has turned its back
When all of your power bled itself dry
I’ll be there
For you”

Nandi is that child.

Her family is so blessed to have each other.

Listen and Pass It On!

Roger Taylor Drops The Outsider Tour Live

Roger Taylor drops his new double album The Outsider Tour Live today and I love it!

Roger Taylor Outsider Live Tour

Rog, as he is affectionally called by Brian May and others, is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter in his own right, and the drummer as well as back-up singer and songwriter for Queen for the last 50 years. Besides his own songs, he’s written such hits as “Radio Ga-Ga,” “I’m in Love With My Car,” “A Kind of Magic,” “The Invisible Man” [which I adore], and more.

As I’ve written, I had a serious crush on Roger Taylor when we were all younger. Cute as fuck, he glows with sexuality and charisma.

Roger is also snarky (exhibited on this album by calling the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie he helped make!, “Bohemian Raspberry” despite professing to love the movie) sarcastic, sometimes very rude, and, at least in his earlier incarnation, quite oversexed. Of course, all of this is based on what people have recorded and shared on YouTube and in the press over the years. So, I could be way off, but suspect he would laugh and nod along with my/their assessment. 

22 Tracks & Many Sooooo Good!

What shines through this music is Roger’s kindness towards humanity, usually an obvious trait reserved for Brian May. It is beautiful to hear Roger sing about the pain of domestic violence in “Surrender,” and our collective need to take care of others in “Foreign Sand.”

“As far as we know it’s the only way to be
Try to plant a seed, fulfill, the need
To make it grow, just say hello
And though you’re far from home try to learn what you could be
Your heart will tell you everything you need”

These Days…

“These Are the Days of Our Lives,” a song written by Roger for Queen, continues to bring me to tears, knowing where the birth of the song came from. As Freddie was dying, Roger penned this beautiful ballad as a reminder for where they had been and that they were, even in darkness, still all together. It was Freddie’s last recording on camera.

Roger’s solo version remains a beautiful gift for all of us, Freddie included. His voice, perfectly nuanced, pulls the emotion we share with each other into the time we have left and the reminder to stay present, even when things are impossible to accept or understand.

Who Has Control (And What Do We Do About It?)

“Gangsters Are Running This World” illuminates another part of Roger’s gentle consideration of humanity and what it does and should look like.

“I wanna fly on the wings of love
I want the clean fresh air in my face
I wanna tear down every border and wall
I wanna take part in the human race
I wanna fly on the wings of love
I wanna run down a path of hope
I wanna fly on the wings of love

Gangsters are running this world
You can shout but never be heard”

This is one of my favorite tracks, one I had not heard before this morning. It’s perfect. A deep ballad with a beat of walking feet that keep moving even with the realization that we don’t have all the control over our destinies. Roger implores us to reach higher than we think we can and not to give up. 

I promise, Roger. I promise you, I will.

Click Here to Buy or Stream The Outsider Tour Live by Roger Taylor.

It’s magnificent!

Under-Appreciated: Hate/Love of Artists

Nothing New

Critics are unable to decipher good music/art/books/fill-in-the-blank. This is not news to most of us, but when looking at a band like Queen and knowing how reviled they were for decades, yet are beloved now… this has to offer hope to other artists of all types.

“Good Company”

Painters not appreciated in their lifetimes include: Vincent Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and more.

Writers not appreciated in their time: Zora Neale Hurston (one of my favorite authors ever), H.P. Lovecraft, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and surely many more.

Composers that had no acceptance during their lifetimes include: Johann Sebastian Bach, Igor Stravinsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and many others.

And Then There Is Queen

Queen

I remember when I was an older teen and Queen was hated by critics as well as by many of my friends. Of course, I was one who loved them and found other Queenies of the day who did, too.

Sitting back 44 years later, I’m amused at how things have changed over time. Sure, there are still Queen-haters, but, from what I can see, there are far more Queen lovers now than there were then. Especially with the critics.

The article “Queen Draws Fans With Flashy, Semiprogressive, Semimetal Rock” by critic John Rockwell oddly semi-s their music’s description several times. It came out on November 18, 1978 in the New York Times. He speaks about how Queen’s music is “mostly pretty empty, all flash and calculation.”

Empty? Queen needed to create a wide variety of styles and sounds in order to survive their tenure (with Freddie Mercury). It was a hallmark of the band. Queen refused to be pigeon-holed. They had an intense desire to be heard in a thousand different ways.

“Lyrically, Queen’s songs manage to be pretentious and irrelevant.”

I believe the intelligence of the band members remained a mystery to those who judged their songs negatively. Either they didn’t know each member had a degree in various specialties or, and this is my best guess, Queen’s band members’ smarts were so far above their heads, they used the word “pretentious,” as an epithet instead of confessing they didn’t understand the nuances of their songwriting or compositions.

Rockwell’s article came out two weeks to the day after I attended my only Queen concert at the Lakeland Civic Center outside Orlando. I had just seen the same concert on the Jazz Tour as he saw at Madison Square Garden, so feel good sharing my young opinion with you all.

Queen Ticket Nov. 4, 1978
(not my ticket)

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Rockwell continues:

“Musically, for all the virtuosity — though it was cheating a bit to turn over the complex middle portion of their “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a taped version, with empty stage and flashing lights — the songs still sound mostly pretty empty, all flash and calculation.”

Empty? Flash? That baffles me.

I’ll agree with calculation. For fuck’s sake, they were incredibly perfectionistic!

If he means formulaic, that is absurd. Queen was/continues to be anything but formulaic.

With regards to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in concert, I have to wonder how the reviewer expected Queen to do the operatic section. I think they handled the dilemma perfectly.

I remember listening to/watching “Bohemian Rhapsody” in concert as if it was yesterday. The gong hung behind the drum set and it caught our eyes as we walked into the arena, the anticipation of its being slammed palpable from the beginning of the concert.

1977 BoRhap Concert
This is a photo of the stage during BoRhap on the same tour in 1977. You can see the gong in the back.

As the concert unfolded, Freddie playing piano and singing to us was exalting, his voice pouring over everyone in the arena. I remember having tears in my eyes from the gloriousness of that song.

Judgement of Freddie and Queen

Some reviews just suck.

“With this sort of (seemingly deliberate, but who can say?) pandering to an obvious need in the late‐teen and early 20’s rock market, Queen has won an audience, and that audience’s more flamboyant members certainly gave every sign of rapture Thursday. But it will be hard for the band to reach a really huge market this way, and at the same time, it will be equally hard for many people to take them seriously in ‘artistic’ terms, or even pop‐artistic terms. Still, it’s a living.”

Freddie Mercury 1977 Jazz Tour
Freddie Mercury on Jazz Tour in 1977.

Ahh, that word “flamboyant.”

In 1978, more than now, flamboyant meant gay. The underlying sentiment is Queen is “pandering” to the gay population and “regular” (straight) folks are left out of the mix, unable to have their musical needs and desires met.

With the word “artistic” in quotes, Rockwell uses yet another euphemism for gay and seems to be saying that even if the public can accept Queen’s gay terms/actions, they won’t be able to take them seriously musically.

Love Eventually Arrives

I have a Part II planned that shows the love Queen has gotten decades later and how they have grown on critics and the public. I wonder what took them so long to see what I saw way back in the olden days.

For you folks struggling to make it in the arts, hang in there.

You are in good company.

Tiny Boxes (via Scribbled Verse)

Afzal Moolla of Scribbled Verse put up this Pete Seeger version of Tiny Boxes (aka the Ticky Tacky song aka the Weeds Theme Song).

You know if it’s on YouTube, I am going to jump on it. This was a fantastic way to wake up this morning! Thanks, Afzal!

I wanted to put up the original by Malvina Reynolds, which is the one sung for the Weeds opening credits.

It is so darned perfect for today’s world, which is kind of sad since this originally came out the year I was born: 1961.

Enjoy!

Bipolar Diary: Stabilized (I Think)

My clock numbers are flat again. The blue has stayed, but not nearly as pronounced as it was. I swear they used to be red, so am really confused why they are blue now. Whatever.

I don’t feel sad or depressed… or even as flat as I did yesterday

I hope this is as low as I go.

I’m trying not to be bummed about losing the hypomania, enjoying what I have and glad it isn’t depression.

Tattoo

I want a tattoo. I usually get tattoos when I am manic, but right now am wanting one. A half-sleeve on my upper left arm under my Pulse tattoo.

Queen Innuendo

Queen, of course. From the song “Innuendo.”

“You can be anything you want to be
Just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be
Be free with your tempo, be free, be free
Surrender your ego, be free, be free to yourself”

I want to “Be Free with my Tempo.”

“We’ll keep on trying.”

 

Thanks to Brian May & Roger Taylor

A quick note of thanks to Bri and Rog for keeping their mouths and fingers shut about what happened behind the scenes with Queen, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, and their own foibles.

What we saw in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was not only fairly public information, it was also a consolidation of events created for dramatic effect. That was fine by me.

Brian May has been open about his own mental health issues (and Goddess love him for it, too!) and his life as an astrophysicist, but he has been delightfully silent about the inner workings of Queen.

While there are snippets of arguments online and Roger and Brian have talked about their own head-knocking behaviors together, generally, very little is known about what went on amongst all of them.

I don’t expect any tell-all books after the remaining three from Queen are gone, either. They all respect each others’ privacy too much.

It makes me weep with gratitude they love and care about each other that much.

Too many others can’t wait to blab their dirty laundry.

Queen has class.

Queen

“What’s a Centerfold?”

I heard that question today.

What?!

I came across J. Geils Band’s video “Centerfold” and listened to the Reactor ask what a centerfold was. They did not even understand the song, which shocked me.

Thinking it was a fluke, I watched another Reaction. Then another. And another. One after the next, people under 45 missed the obvious (to me) storyline of the song/video.

Litmus Tests of the Elderly

I’m one of the elderly now.

My life includes these experiences:

  • Party lines
  • Life without microwaves
  • TVs with three channels
  • No remote controls for TVs
  • Having to hang clothes on the line
  • Phones having cords on them and dialing the number one wanted to call
  • Prank calls
  • Rolling car windows
  • No seat belts
  • Phone booths
  • Waiting for pictures to be developed
  • Few divorces
  • Moms who didn’t work
  • Running around outside until the streetlights went on, never checking in
  • Driver’s Ed classes in high school

And surely dozens more we had in the olden days.

Ultimate Test of Age

Now there is the centerfold.

The young have never, will never, experience the joy of opening a Playboy (which stopped printing magazines in 2020) or Penthouse (which stopped printing in 2016), inhaling the wafting scent of manufactured pages, before immediately turning to the centerfold.

She, the woman whose body graced those double pages, opened herself to us, allowing us to see her body close-up, her eyes staring right into ours.

The Young…

…will never have the experience of having two pages stuck together.

That’s just sad.