The Show Must Go On
I don’t know why it took me so long to post something by Queen, as they’re one of my all time favorite bands. If you’ve been following the news, lately there have been a few high profile deaths. For my younger readers, I imagine that you may feel a little indifferent about that. Not to say that younger people are more callous, but these are more than just celebrity deaths to me. Many of the people who have passed away recently were folks that inspired me in my youth, their contributions to our collective culture and society were a large part of molding me into the man I am today. With every one that passes on, I feel more and more like the world I know is coming to end, and it’s kind of put me into a bit of a funk lately.
The Show Must Go On is the last track on Queen‘s last official album, the spectacular Innuendo. Though it wasn’t generally known by the public at large, Freddie Mercury was close to death from AIDS when Queen was recording the album. Brian May was skeptical that Mercury would even be able to sing the incredibly difficult vocal arrangement. Shit, most perfectly healthy singers probably wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but Mercury fucking nails it. The theme of the track is continuing on in the face of adversity, “The Show” being a metaphor for life itself. Mercury couldn’t even really walk by this point, but you would never know it from hearing the track; his performance is passionately defiant: fuck you, AIDS, fuck you, death, I am larger than life and you will NEVER take the joy of living from me.
The single was released a few weeks before Mercury‘s death in 1991, he never even performed it live. Over the years The Show Must Go On has been covered by myriad artists and is held in great regard by many, like myself, who connected with it on an emotional level. As Mercury was gravely ill, there was no new material shot for the promotional video; rather it’s a compilation of Queen footage through the years. It is with great respect and admiration that I dedicate this to all of my personal heroes, living or dead, past and present. My smile still stays on.