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.
Thank you, Freddie and Bri.
Thank you so very much.
Love of my life, you’ve hurt me You’ve broken my heart And now you leave me Love of my life, can’t you see?
Bring it back, bring it back Don’t take it away from me Because you don’t know What it means to me
Love of my life, don’t leave me You’ve taken my love (my love) And now desert me Love 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 remember When this is blown over And 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)
So, there is this guy named Brian May. He happens to be the guitarist and a singer for the rock band Queen. He’s also an amazing soloist. Those alone make me swoon, but there are facets of Bri (as he is often called) that must be mentioned beyond what one sees in the news and rock ezines or YouTube videos.
Yes, Yes, He Has a PhD in Astrophysics…
… which proves he is incredibly brilliant in his brain. It took him over 30 years to get that amazing degree. His PhD thesis was A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud. I doubt I would understand the first line of Dr. Brian May’s book, but good on him.
Yes, He is an Animal Rights Activist
And Goddess, do I love him for that!
Mental Health Advocate Starting with Himself
I’ve already blogged about Brian’s experiences with depression and ongoing healing and how profound that is to know I am not alone. Bri shares this with the world, so none of us are alone.
He is Single-Handedly Bringing Back Stereoscopy
If you don’t know what stereoscopes are, it is time to learn! It took me a few times to be able to see the images in 3D, but I can see them now and they are incredible!
Yes, He is an Amazing Musician, Singer, and Songwriter
Bri plays several instruments and sings with a gentle lilt that soothes so many who listen. With Queen, it is easy to pick which songs were written by him. Roger Taylor’s are also easy to distinguish. Freddie’s are fairly obvious, but John Deacon is a dark horse and wrote most of the hits Queen had over the years.
Brian May Wears His Heart on His Sleeve
Many of the songs he has written for his solo albums tear open his chest so he can share his heart with the listener.
“Too Much Love Will Kill You” is the best example of Brian’s tender and loving side that he holds out for the world to witness. A song written about an affair and his divorce; many of us know that exact pain.
The Part I Never See Written About…
…is how Brian May is a most giving teacher.
During the COVID years, Brian did Tutorials on Instagram, giving lessons to others about how to play Queen songs.
That morphed into challenges for artists to sing, dance, draw, whatever their art was, to his playing a Queen song.
Which became amazing videos like this one with Debby Holiday, Jeff Scott Soto, Justin Murphy, Cameron Brown, Ron Bumblefoot Thal, Alex Skolnick, James LoMenzo, Stu Hamm, Kenny “Play-Along” Aronoff, Marco Minnemann and Jay Hannon:
Along with this isolation jam came a magnificent piece from Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tosin Abasi as well as Brian May himself, all playing a guitar version of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I know many people did a plethora of similar reaching out to their fans and friends (I see a book from someone called Isolation Connection somewhere down the road), but these specific jams that came from Brian May made him accessible. Sure, he is still an icon, but he sits around in his shorts not worrying if his hair is perfect… just like the rest of us did when we were on camera a couple of years ago.
Even though the jams were as far reaching as Brian’s thesis, I watched dozens of them. Brian’s smile was always kind and encouraging. When he brought Roger Taylor in for “We Are the Champions,” more magic materialized. (Roger has more tattoos than I have! Awesome!)
These two are definitely the coolest grandpas in the world!
If I Could…
I would thank Brian for being such an amazing man… in so many ways, but mostly for being a fantastic teacher and a man who shares his feelings and experiences with everyone. As freakin’ brilliant as this man is, he never talks down to anyone. He speaks on everyone’s level and that is a beautiful thing. He has every reason to be annoyingly arrogant, but he is humble and gentle and kind.
Thank you, Dr. Brian May, for all you are and all you give. You bless the world with your heart.
When I saw the Rolling Stones in 1981, Mick Jagger was 38 years old. I was 20 and he seemed ancient. I remember our saying, “Look how old they are!” They had been out for 19 years by then and that seemed forever, especially since I was born a year before they began in 1962.
The Stones just finished touring Europe as a celebration for their 60th year together.
Mick Jagger is 78 years old. Keith Richards is also 78, and Ron Wood is 75.
For fuck’s sake, they are more spry than I could ever hope to be! Especially considering the lifestyle they all participated in for a few decades.
When Queen began in 1970 (I was 9 years old), Freddie Mercury was 24, Brian May was 23, Roger Taylor was 21 years old , and John Deacon was the youngest at 19 years old.
Brian May is now 75 years old and Roger Taylor is 73 years old. John Deacon is now a mere 71 years old. (I will have no older pics of Deacy than from 1997 because that is when he retired from public life and I want to respect that.)
And of course, our precious Freddie Mercury died at the incredibly young age of 45.
Queen is now Roger Taylor and Brian May and they are still performing in 2022.
My (NSH) Thoughts on Older Bands Touring
Because I heard the crowd of people around me, and thinking it myself when I was younger, I thought older bands should just stop presenting themselves on stage. I thought they were old farts and why not just go away for the newer bands like Van Halen and Styx. Little did I know Van Halen would end up touring for 43 years and Styx would still be on the road 52 years later.
Who cares if they have to spread their gig dates out. Who cares if Roger Taylor isn’t as fast on the drums as he used to be. Who cares that health challenges crop up and tour dates have to be adjusted.
They are out there. They are fucking out there.
And that means the world to me.
Wolfie, Eddie, and Alex Van Halen in 2015.
Who Is Still Out There?
What amuses me from this 61-year old vantage point is how many bands I saw way back in the day that are or have toured for 40+ years.
Queen – formed in 1970
Aerosmith – formed in 1970
Styx – formed in 1970
Eagles – formed in 1971
Van Halen – formed in 1972
Def Leppard – formed in 1977
I would pay giant bucks to see any of them again. They were all amazing.
So why shouldn’t they be out kicking ass in their 70s? Fuck growing old!
It’s an attitude I am working hard to adopt.
Even More Bands Out on Tours
These bands (and the year they were formed) have been out on tour for over 40, and some even 50, years.
Blue Oyster Cult – 1967
The Doobie Brothers – 1970
KISS – 1973
Blondie – 1974
Iron Maiden – 1975
U2 – 1978
The Cure – 1978
Metallica – 1981
Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1983
Go On, You Bad Asses!
Note: I got edited by YouTube! The video I had up was taken down. I have arrived!
After watching the Taylor Hawkins Tribute earlier this week, I fell in love with Dave Grohl. I’ve now watched him on different shows on YouTube and with each segment I see, I love him more. I’ve never listened to either Nirvana or Foo Fighters (until the Tribute Concert) and not sure they are my kind of music, but this guy is fantastically bright, witty, and talented as hell. I will give his bands a go, but it is because of him. (Might I be expanding my tastes? Perhaps!)
One of the favorite things I’m learning about him is his I Don’t Give a Fuck attitude about convention and conformity. He did a drum battle with a Muppet, for crying out loud! What proper drummer would consider doing such a thing? Only someone with a complete lack of modesty and concern for what anyone else thinks.
I love that attitude!
I bought his book The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music and already there are quotes that fit me well. It’s reassuring someone put them out there for me to see.
This one resonates so deeply, I am strapping it on as wings to keep myself aloft.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
I know. It’s been said a million times in a million different ways. But you know how something comes to you just when you need it most? This fell in my lap and said, “Hey, you! Pay attention!”
I’m going to have fun. Stop worrying so much about what anyone else is doing but me. Just love everyone and have a blast when I am able to.
Not so long ago, I was in a very sad and depressed state. When I started watching videos on YouTube, I thought it was a distraction and worried I was sinking deeper.
Instead, what I found was a way out of depression.
However, I am having hallucinations that are annoying and need more help with. Ants crawling on me… visual and tactile. Annoying for sure.
Having hallucinations reminds me my brain doesn’t usually work like it’s supposed to. Even when I feel good. That bugs me (so to speak). I am not in a manic state. I’m getting enough sleep. My meds haven’t changed. I am pretty sure I am going to have my Risperdal upped and that really makes me cranky because that shit makes me gain weight and I am on a losing streak, 60 pounds so far. (That’s a story for another day.)
Clearly, I have been writing more. Not just here, but also in my book. I feel so good, which makes the hallucinations especially annoying as fuck.
Brian May to the Rescue
Brian May is the guitarist for Queen and a soloist as well.
This is part of the transcript from a podcast “Brian May – How Do You Cope? Elis and John” found HERE. The entire transcript delves into Brian’s ongoing life as a “depressive” (his word) and how he works through it, including the time he went to a treatment center. I highly encourage reading the entire piece because there are 1000 nuggets of understanding and inspiration there.
“Some of it was actually incredibly difficult to get through to even get in a studio because it made me massively depressed, and when you’re really depressed you’re not writing songs or you’re not writing the Blues. You can’t write anything. You can’t even get up in the morning. So I went through a lot of trials and I remember sitting in the studio feeling so incredibly bleak and wondering if I had anything to say. All I could feel was pain.”
“Yeah, I kind of felt life was over and I just wanted to try to get to the point where I could put it into music, and again this idea of sharing it with other people. I thought, if I can get through this then maybe I can help other people get through it.”
Again… and hope.
(Besides Bri helping me, his matter-of-fact speaking about having off and on depression has de-mystified and normalized mental illness, especially depression. I can’t thank him enough for his gift of speaking out loud about his struggles and triumphs.)
Watching Myself Fall Downward
I was stagnant for so long, for well over a year. A friend with whom I’d been sharing my work and getting lots of great feedback and encouragement from to keep going ghosted me. Crushed, I stopped writing. It took a few months before I realized why. I missed him and our interactions about my writing. It didn’t seem worth doing if no one was going to read it. I couldn’t find the inspiration to pick up the pen again and get any words on the page. Honestly, I thought the words in my mind had vanished.
I tried reading, but that gave me very little pleasure and no inspiration. I did read War and Peace and Anna Karenina , both by Leo Tolstoy, and loved them, but still they did not nudge me to write in the way I had hoped. Anything less intense was a bore.
I’m “On My Way Up”… and Out!
It is through music I have found my way out of depression and the immobility with writing.
I did not know that would be my path and am still a bit amused this is the territory I’m traversing. How could old rock music get my creative blood pumping and have me waking at 5:00am eager to tap, tap, tap on the computer? I keep going until I feel the words begin to slow, winding up, and then working much of the day. But, even my work writing is going so much better.
Dr. Brian May wrote a song called “On My Way Up” that has become my anthem.
“I’m on a roll
Gonna have it all
It’s gonna be fine so fine, baby all the time
I’m in control (on my way up)
I’m mighty bold (I’m telling myself)
I’m looking good (I’m totally sussed)
I’m quitting the neighbourhood
On my way up (yes I am)
(On my way up) Gonna get right with them
Got all of my life left for living”
I listen to this first thing in the morning, even before Track 13. I feel strong and powerful.
I watched the Livestream, thank goodness, because all but tiny snippets are gone now, so I apologize if the links above have vanished by the time you read this. Videos are being taken down fast and furiously. The Powers That Be have blocked it all, so you will have to wait for the concert to be available online to buy. It’s worth it.
Taylor Hawkins & Queen Connection
Taylor’s first concert was Queen when he was 10-years old and he said that every concert he went to after that dimmed by comparison. He was a Queen encyclopedia… songs and trivia. Roger Taylor was his drum idol who became a friend. Brian May also became a friend and they all mixed their talents on several projects.
I’ve spent the morning watching Taylor Hawkins doing covers of Queen songs at his concerts and love them all so, so much.
Random Amazing Aftereffects
Therefore, I was hyped up yesterday after the concert and visited my mom via Uber. I was blabbing to the driver about how wonderful everyone was and it was clear how many loved Taylor Hawkins. The long-bearded, 20-something driver knew exactly who I was talking about.
I then started talking about how Brian May and Roger Taylor did a 5-song set with a variety of singers. I had not mentioned the name Queen yet, but the guy reaches over and puts on Bohemian Rhapsody. It was #1 in his playlist.
Duet with Queen
This guy, who could be my grandson, and I sang our hearts out to BoRhap which lasted almost all the way to my mom’s house. I imprinted the experience in my heart and mind because it was so random and so glorious. After the song, I regaled him with Bohemian Rhapsody trivia. He seemed to lap it up.
As I got out he said it was the best ride he had ever given and I told him that was good because it was the best ride I had ever taken.
I’m reading how guitarists choose a guitar, that there are certain brands that create specific sounds.
I didn’t know how many guitarists develop their own sound that distinguishes them from others. I’m shocked at how many guitarists I know just from their sound. How I never noticed this before is beyond me.
I’m learning the nuances of how amplifiers affect the sounds and that feedback is not always a negative.
I’m even learning about the individual types of picks guitarists choose and why. (I still find Brian May’s sixpence the coolest pick out there.)
I Know Nothing About Technology
I can’t figure out why I am so excited to learn about guitars considering I am clueless about the technical aspects of anything electric. I’m 61, have no intention of ever learning how to play even an acoustic guitar, yet I keep reading about the workings of guitars and the musicians that play them.
I had no idea how hard an electric guitar was to play. I thought someone picked up a guitar, plugged it in and were off and running. Ha! It’s a math problem to the 50-thousanth degree. It’s geometry, algebra, and physics with a ton of passion on top of it all. The dexterity required is incredible. Watching the flying fingers and hands sometimes makes me dizzy. These musicians are amazing.
Every one of these guitar players started out not knowing how to hold a guitar. And now, they are the best of the best in the Western World. They practiced endlessly. I especially love hearing about how the musicians got started, when they got their first guitars, how they learned or taught themselves to play.
It’s quite incredible knowing that my guitar is pen and paper. I must practice to get better. I must practice with love filling my heart and with the passion of the world pushing me forward to finish what I started.
Instead of getting sidetracked by guitars and guitar players, I have been writing more… still to Queen’s Made in Heaven, including Track 13… but the accumulation of guitar solos, riffs, and shreds feels like a Hawaiian wave pulling me to ride it, to curl under the water’s canopy, and soar with the Universe.
Watch me fly!
*Eddie Van Halen
Be sure to watch the link to Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption.” It is, in my mind (and many others’) the best guitar solo out there. At least the ones I have seen so far.
He is one with the guitar; they sing together.
Note: He smokes in the video and it is painful knowing that smoking contributed to his death in 2020. Oh, the choices we make when young that don’t affect us for decades.
For some odd reason, like I hear from several others, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole.
From the COVID Years, Back to Life
I was in a 2.5 year funk during the COVID years. Depression, fear, and anxiety is a more accurate description.
As I came out of this period of advanced mourning, I wondered why I had not worked on the four books I have had in the works for several years I was horrified when I looked back and saw the last time I’d put 10 words on the page.
Watching YouTube was not a conscious thing, but the rabbit hole led me to Queen.
Re-Fallen in Love With Queen
I have re-fallen in love with Queen… Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.
I first discovered them when I was 14 with A Night at the Opera and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I danced around the living room with the speakers blasting as I acted out the song. I know every note’s rise and fall. I called BJ105 requesting it several times a day to make sure it was the number one requested song of that day. It was. For a lot of weeks.
I can sing “The Prophet’s Song” still. “You’re My Best Friend” was played whenever my group of girlfriends got together. Watching “Love of My Life” on YouTube transports me back to those teen years.
1978 Queen Concert
I was blessed to see Queen at Lakeland Civic Center on November 4, 1978 when I was 17-years old.
I remember a lot, but mostly I remember how the audience in the Arena stomp stomp clapped for at least 30 minutes before Queen even took the stage. I can feel the reverberations still, 44 years later. (The bleachers were made of wood back then so the stomping really kicked ass!)
But I did not know so much about the intricacies of the band and how their music was created. While I know a bit more now, I am still learning and they are freakin’ geniuses, including Dr. Brian May, an astrophysicist, who started towards his degree in 1971 and received it in 2007 at the age of 60.
Fascination Turns to Inspiration
So, in listening to Queen for a few weeks, watching interviews they have done, studied the 30-years-later thoughts and memories Brian May and Roger Taylor share (John Deacon retains his privacy… it has been said he took Freddie’s death quite hard), I am moved by their tenacity to continue performing in their 70s when they started singing together in the 70s!
As I learned more, I wanted to know more and began listening to their albums, in order of their release. I have found real gems – Sheer Heart Attack and News of the World, for sure, and then others that didn’t resonate so much.
I replayed their Greatest Hits albums, too. I owned several as a teen/young adult, so I was traveling down familiar territory.
With each step I grew stronger, still not aware of my destination.
Then Finally Comes Made in Heaven
I came to the end of the discography list with Made in Heaven, the album that was released 4 years after Freddie’s death, culling together pieces-parts of lines, verses, singing-thoughts Freddie sang near the end of his life.
Freddie said to his friends and bandmates, “Get me to sing anything, write me anything and I will sing it and I will leave you as much as I possibly can.” He knew and welcomed they would finish his work after he was gone.
How fucking powerful was his urge to perform even as he was so close to dying?
I got chills and a soaring inspiration from that artistic ethic.
“I’m taking my ride with destiny Willing to play my part Living with painful memories Loving with all my heart”
“Made in heaven I’m playing my role in history Looking to find my goal Taking in all this misery But giving it all my soul”
Track 13 is the 13th song on the album, but has no name, although some call it “Ascension.” It is formally known as “Track 13” or just “13.” Ascension comes from the image of Freddie rising to his greatest heights after death: Heaven, Nirvana, the Great Rock and Roll Band in the Sky.
I am used to meditating/pondering to Pink Floyd, but to Queen? Not so much. They do have wondrous lyrics to consider as one considers poetry or art, but for me, meditating is another art form altogether.
But Track 13 is amazing for meditation. 22:32 minutes long and only a few interjections by Freddie’s words: “Are you running?” and the last word, “Fab!”
“Are You Running?”
“Are you running?” might seem an odd thing to put in a meditative song, but it seems a directive to me. Am I running as fast as I can so I can get to the finish line accomplished and complete? Am I running as fast as I need to to complete at least one of these books before my demise?
The answers are no, but I am fixing that now.
Who Knew Queen Would Kickstart My Writing?
I never expected this outcome when I watched that first Disney World YouTube video. I berated myself for not writing and spending hours a day watching video after video. For weeks.
The choices winnowed their way down to Queen, pre- and post-Freddie Mercury. I love Brian May’s and Roger Taylor’s solo works, too. (If you have not listened, do so!)
I watched Bohemian Rhapsody a dozen times, squinting trying to see what was just out of my range of vision.
And then it clicked.
“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now!”
I wrote for a three hours yesterday and it was a joy. Made in Heaven and Track 13 on a loop played in the headphones, urging me on.
Every time Freddie said, “Fab!” I knew he was saying it to me. “Fabulous! Keep going!”
I woke up at 4am this morning, eager to get writing, putting the headphones on and tap, tap, tapping, hearing the stomp, stomp, clap of “We Are the Champions.” I wrote for three hours again and feel the urge to write more after this post.
I Will Rock Me
Of the hundreds of ways I’ve tried to get myself writing again, I am thrilled it was Queen that pushed me to get on it already. Goddess bless that Freddie Mercury with his endless desire to be heard and seen. I am soaking that up and spilling it out my fingers.