I’ve been struggling with parts of the book I’m writing. I was talking to Meghann about them, how hard the sections with crazy, anonymous sex and copious drug and alcohol use are to write about with the post-AIDS knowledge we all have.
What Will People Think?
The book Faggots by Larry Kramer, written in 1978, that, when it came out, was hated and trashed, especially in the gay community.
“Published in 1978 to a storm of controversy, Faggots was one of the most infamous novels of its time, a giant glitter-smeared Fuck You to the gay community it satirised so ruthlessly.”
“What happened next is even more interesting, and nearly unparalleled in the history of satire. Within three years of its publication, New York was in the grip of the AIDS epidemic. The dire predictions in Faggots about the devastation caused by a life of hedonism had come true, in the most horrific way.”
Larry Kramer Didn’t Give a Shit What People Thought
“Of the 2,639,857 faggots in the New York city area, 2,639,857 think primarily with their cocks.
You didn’t know that the cock was a thinking organ?
Well, by this time, you should know that it is.” – Larry Kramer
“I was young and stupid
I didn’t feel no pain
I was looking for trouble
I didn’t feel no shame
I was heading for a long day’s journey into the night… life
I wanted more kicks” – Roger Taylor
“I Didn’t Feel No Shame”
It is that line Roger wrote that’s bouncing around in my head.
Is it shame I feel about my/our hedonistic behaviors from 1978 until 1981? Is that why I’m struggling so much to get these sex and drug stories down? Why can’t I let go and write the truth of those days?
“Opening her eyes wide again, she saw the Top in a leather harness reach into the ubiquitous can of Crisco, slathering it onto -and into – the bottom’s ass before wiping his greasy hand on the bedspread, then jamming his dick into the collared man underneath him. The loud ‘umph’ came not only from the inserted, but several of the folks watching as well.” – In the Bushes/WIP by Barb Herrera
I want to be like Larry Kramer and Roger Taylor. I want to just write.
Roger Taylor drops his new double album The Outsider Tour Live today and I love it!
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 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.
A song about a common outcome of domestic violence?
It’s about time.
“Surrender” by Roger Taylor
Roger Taylor is not only a singer, songwriter, and drummer for the band Queen, but is an incredible solo artist as well. Roger has a new album, The Outsider Tour Live, and the first single released is “Surrender.”
This song has affected me in ways other songs about DV have not; given me shivers and tears of sadness for my friend Silvia who was killed by her husband, Wilbur Frank.
Silvia Frank was a midwifery client of mine through two pregnancies. During our visits, we discussed the domestic violence occurring and her need to leave, but, as is typical of abused people, she minimized the violence she was experiencing, even as she acknowledged the need to escape.
Silvia went to nursing school, becoming a labor and delivery nurse on her way to becoming a midwife. She saw this as the economic way to get out of the emotional and violent ways Frank used to control her.
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!
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.
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.