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

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

Old Rock Stars

The Rolling Stones

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.

Rolling Stones 1962
Getty Images

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.

Rolling Stones 2022

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.

Queen

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.

Queen 1970

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.)

Brian May at 23
Brian May at 23 years old.

Brian May
Brian May at about 75 years old.

Roger Taylor early 1970s
Roger Taylor early 1970s.

Roger Taylor early 70 years old.
Roger Taylor early 70 years old. (And still yummy as ever.)

John Deacon 197s
Array of John Deacon pics over the years.

John Deacon 1997
John Deacon 1997 at 46 years old.

And of course, our precious Freddie Mercury died at the incredibly young age of 45.

Freddie at 24
Freddie Mercury at 24.

Freddie at 42
Freddie at 42 years old.

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.

Van Halen 1972
Michael Anthony, Alex and Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth in 1972.

Van Halen 2015

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.

Why Not?

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!

Freddie Mercury: The World We’d Created

Today is Freddie Mercury’s 76th birthday.

I was thinking about what it was like for him and all gay men in the early 70s throughout Freddie’s life until he died in 1991. I was in the gay world starting in 1978 through about 1983 directly and then on the periphery for another ten years after that. I stayed in touch with about ten gay friends for many years after that and knew how their lives unfolded in an extremely homophobic time where AIDS was killing every third friend.

Stalking Freddie and Hating Who They Thought He Was

The press hounded Freddie during his life, wanting him to “confess” his sexuality. (I was going to add a picture of him being hounded by paparazzi, but it made my skin crawl just looking at the people stealing pictures of him, so I will not add to that.) Yet, he never came out himself, not even when he said he had AIDS the night before he died. Besides it being none of anyone’s business, the world was not kind to gay people then.

Why would he come out when the world was so hateful? It took an act of extreme bravery for any of us to come out to our parents, our employers, our friends… but for Freddie, it might have been the end of his career. As any gay person who had a high profile career (or a family, for that matter) at that time will tell you, almost across the board, they could not have come out in those years.

Then There was AIDS

On March 22, 1980, a year before that first MMWR report, evangelical Christian leaders delivered a petition to President Jimmy Carter demanding a halt to the advance of gay rights. ‘God’s judgment is going to fall on America as on other societies that allowed homosexuality to become a protected way of life,’ Bob Jones III predicted, according to UPI.”

In 1982, when we started hearing about AIDS, it was almost exclusively gay men who had it. People despised gays to start with, but add their terror of AIDS and thinking it could be caught by touch or breathing or tears. I remember discussions about rounding up gay men and putting them in detention centers or prison to keep them apart from “normal” people.

It was a daily occurrence to hear, “It is God’s Will they are being killed by AIDS.” “It is what they deserve for being so evil.” “God will rid the world of these evil homosexuals. Finally, they will be gone.”

Violence against gays and lesbians escalated fast in the mid-1980s. Homosexual attacks were not documented as such back then, so there is no official record except the records the gay men and lesbians kept themselves.

As Matthew Holloway, a homosexual who works for a major financial institution in San Francisco, waited for his roommate outside a supermarket last December, a teen-age man and woman began to shout at him.

”’We should kill you first, because you’re gonna give us AIDS,” Mr. Holloway said they shouted. He said that a few minutes later, as he and his roommate drove from the parking lot, they were attacked by the couple and a dozen other young people. His roommate, David Johnson, was dragged from the car and beaten with chains and skateboards. He suffered three broken ribs, a broken jaw and bruises. Mr. Holloway fought to stay in the car and was unharmed. The attackers fled before the police arrived; no suspects were arrested.”

So coming out was not only terrifying back then, but you could be beaten, maimed, or killed for being gay. The stigma of AIDS was wide-sweeping.

That fact was not unknown by Freddie Mercury.

1984: I Want to Break Free & Hot for Teacher

These videos are two examples I want to share about how prevalent homophobia was in 1984.

There is a plethora of information about Queen’s 1984 video “I Want to Break Free” and how MTV refused to play it. No one seems to know if it was officially banned, but I want to share my own experience with that video.

I remember being aghast at Queen in drag when I saw the video before MTV stopped playing it. And I had been in the gay community for several years by then, surrounded by drag queens and transwomen! If I was shocked, you can imagine how horrified middle America was.

I wish I could remember my exact thought process. Did I worry for Queen? Did I think it was Freddie’s coming out song? After all these years seeing the whole video, it is still the opening when they are in drag that I remember from when I was 23-years old. It was that jarring.

Another video that came out in 1984 was Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” It was scandalous, but played every hour on MTV.

Irony of Time

In my YouTube foray, I watch Reaction videos… to music and movies, mostly, but also some documentaries. When I’ve watched Reactions to “I Want to Break Free,” adults and kids love it. They think it is great fun. Even Americans.

But when “Hot for Teacher” is shown, anyone younger than 40 cannot believe that was ever on TV. “That had to have been banned,” is a common refrain. Shocked comments about the mother’s moaning, the stripping teacher, and the 4th graders being allowed in the video (“Where were their parents?! Did they have to sign a waiver? I would never let my kid be in a video like this!”) When the older-than-40-year old person says how great it was, how many boys were glued to their MTVs to wait for it, and how no one batted an eye, the youngers cannot believe what they are hearing.

What a difference 40 years makes.

Freddie’s Peace

It was probably very difficult for Freddie Mercury to find peace and quiet in his life unless he was walled in. The press hungered for his soul the same way they did for Princess Diana’s. Paparazzi were leeches and vultures picking apart the flesh and blood of humans, all for a story.

If he were a young man today, he might have come out and had a great time at it. But back then, coming out was everything but an option. If he were a young man today with AIDS, he would have medications to keep him alive. If he were young today and was HIV negative and sexually active, he would have PrEP to keep him from getting AIDS.

But he is not a young man today. He is one of millions that left too soon and in too much pain, physical and emotional. When we remember Freddie’s birthday today, please take a moment and remember all the other people whose birthdays have also passed, most without notice.

Never forget.

You’ve broken free, now Rock in Power and Happy Birthday, Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury with Writing Advice

I came across a stumbling block this morning.

I’m re-writing a section where my main character loses her virginity to a gay man and am developing how they knew each other and how the sex came to be.

Stuttering Along

I’m working hard not to edit as I write. Before, I would typically write, read, back space over a few words, and re-write again. Over and over. Instead, I am plowing forward and letting the words flow out.

But yesterday and today, the words were stuck inside my fingers.

Frustrated, I remembered something Freddie Mercury said in Queen’s One Vision Documentary.

“I like to capture a song really quickly so that’s it’s fresh and then you can work on it afterward. I hate trying to write the song and if it’s not coming, ‘Oh, c’mon. Let’s try this here.’ It either comes quickly and then you have it, like the basic skeleton, and then I say, ‘Yes, we have a song.’ Then we can start putting in all the clever bits.

“But if a song’s not happening, I just normally say, ‘Oh, let’s forget it. Let’s try something else.'”

Closing & Opening

I thought that might be a bit of good advice and randomly moved to a different section of the book. My thought was to let my intuition drive my choice.

Scrolling down the chapters, my eyes lit on the section where my MC has tea with her mother. Those words were already forming in my mind and I opened the page in Scrivener and my fingers started typing.

Her mom went from the front door to the kitchen, leaving Lisa standing in the middle of the living room with her suitcase, not knowing where to put it. She was surprised her mom didn’t have plastic on the furniture like she’d always had when she was a kid. The room smelled odd without the reflective covering over every sitting space.

“I guess mom thinks I’m old enough to sit on furniture now and not make a mess.”

Lisa chuckled to herself and hoped she didn’t spill her sweet iced tea she knew was coming at any moment. Some manners cannot be ignored and serving iced tea was done out of habit, not friendliness.

It felt good to move on to a different section and not fret about the words.

Not Always So Easy

I do understand there might come times when I struggle for words. There will come times.

But for today, Freddie’s words soothed me and helped me move on to something more flowing and easy.

I liked that a lot.

Rabbit Hole: Track 13

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.

Queen
Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May

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.

Dr. Brian May
Dr. Brian May

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!

Brian May Roger Taylor
Brian May & Roger Taylor

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.

Queen Greatest Hits
I will confess that even back then, I had a major crush on Roger Taylor. It wasn’t until now that I realized how I was one of millions.

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.

Queen Made in Heaven Sunrise
Queen: Made in Heaven Sunrise

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 wanted to make it mine.

Queen Made in Heaven Sunset
Queen: Made in Heaven Sunset

Exquisite Music/Exquisite Ponderings

Excerpts from the song “Made in Heaven“:

“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

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.

Queen Track 13

Queen’s Meditation

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?”

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury

“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.

Watch out world!