Monday, April 30, 2012

Queen II comes in at 12


As their About section says: “io9 is a daily publication that covers science, science fiction, and the future. Time to get ready for tomorrow.” I’ve been following this site on Facebook for quite a while now and was curious to see how their four-part series on the “top 100 albums every science fiction and fantasy fan should listen to” would look like.

Maybe Queen would make an appearance somewhere in there with Flash Gordon or even A Kind of Magic since it was the unofficial Highlander soundtrack. To my surprise, they ended up as #11 with Queen II. I suppose it is a great fantasy concept album, so why not?

Here’s the list, in case you missed it:

100. Mastodon — Crack the Skye (2009)
99. Alain Goraguer — The Fantastic Planet soundtrack (1973)
98. Yellow Magic Orchestra — Solid State Survivor (1979)
97. Add N To (X) — Avant Hard (1999)
96. Ayreon — Into the Electric Castle (1998)
95. The Residents — The Commercial Album (1980)
94. Front Line Assembly — Tactical Neural Implant (1992)
93. Eon — The Void Dweller (1992)
92. Joe Hisaishi — Princess Mononoke Soundtrack (1999)
91. Space — Space (1990)
90. Black Sabbath — Master of Reality (1971)
89. Intergalactic Touring Band — Intergalactic Touring Band (1977)
88. The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice — Moon Colony Bloodbath (2009)
87. Frank Zappa and the Ensemble Modern — Yellow Shark (1993)
86. Muse — Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
85. King Crimson — In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
84. Goblin — Suspiria Original Soundtrack (1977)
83. Bo Hansson — Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings (1970)
82. Clint Mansell — Moon Soundtrack (2009)
81. X-Ray Spex — Germ-Free Adolescents (1978)
80. The Chemical Bros. — Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
79. Uriah Heep — Demons & Wizards (1972)
78. Blue Öyster Cult — Fire of Unknown Origin (1981)
77. Alan Parsons Project — I Robot (1977)
76. Praxis — Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) (1993)
75. Electric Light Orchestra — Time (1981)
74. Fela Kuti — Zombie (1977)
73. GWAR — Lust in Space (2009)
72. The Heavy Metal Soundtrack (1981)
71. Voivod — The Outer Limits (1993)
70. Sukia — Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo (1996)
69. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band — Solar Fire (1973)
68. Genesis — The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
67. Coheed and Cambria — Second Stage Turbine Blade (2002)
66. Blind Guardian — Nightfall in Middle-Earth (1998)
65. Yamasuki — Les Monde Fableaux des Yamasuki (1971)
64. Atari Teenage Riot — Burn, Berlin, Burn! (1997)
63. Gravediggaz — 6 Feet Deep (1994)
62. Fantômas — The Director’s Cut (2001)
61. Misfits — Walk Among Us (1982)
60. Manowar — Hail To England (1984)
59. Cybotron — Clear (1990)
58. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — original soundtrack by James Horner (1982)
57. Björk — Homogenic (1997)
56. Scientist — Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (1981)
55. Guitar Wolf — Planet of the Wolves (1997)
54. Godspeed You! Black Emperor — F♯A♯∞ (1997)
53. Tangerine Dream — Phaedra (1974)
52. Deltron 3030 — Deltron 3030 (2000)
51. Iced Earth — Dystopia (2011)
50. UNKLE — Psyence Fiction (1998)
49. Jean-Michelle Jarre — Oxygene (1976)
48. Jefferson Starship — Blows Against the Empire (1970)
47. Man or Astro-Man — Eeviac: Operational Index and Reference Guide, Including Other Non- Computational Devices (1999)
46. The Decemberists — The Hazards of Love (2009)
45. Aphex Twin — Selected Ambient Works 85—92 (1992)
44. Global Communication — 76:14 (1994)
43. Mike Oldfield — Songs of Distant Earth (1994)
42. Gary Numan — The Pleasure Principle (1979)
41. Philip Glass — Einstein on the Beach (1974)
40. The Orb — The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
39. Sonic Youth — Daydream Nation (1988)
38. Goldfrapp — Black Cherry (2003)
37. The Sword — Warp Riders (2010)
36. Yoko Kanno — The Cowboy Bebop soundtrack (2002)
35. Princess Superstar — My Machine (2005)
34. Meshuggah — Destroy Erase Improve (1995)
33. Hawkwind — Space Ritual (1973)
32. The Flaming Lips — Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
31. Rick Wakeman — Journey to the Center of the Earth (1974)
30. OutKast — ATLiens (1996)
29. Brian Eno — Before and After Science (1977)
28. Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
27. The Splash Band — The Music of John Carpenter (1984)
26. Dio — Magica (2000)
25. Emerson, Lake and Palmer — Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
24. Wendy Carlos and Journey — Tron Soundtrack (1982)
23. Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack (1975)
22. Devin Townsend — Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007)
21. Thomas Dolby — The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)
20. Yes — Fragile (1970)
19. The Beatles — Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
18. Sun Ra — Space Is The Place (1973)
17. Underworld and John Murphy — The Sunshine Soundtrack (2008)
16. Queensryche — Operation Mindcrime (1988)
15. Joe Satriani — Surfing With The Alien (1987)
14. Gustav Holst — The Planets (1916)
13. Iron Maiden — Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

12. Queen – Queen II (1974)
Side two of this album (“the Black Side”) is basically a series of dark fantasy short stories, in song form, written entirely by Freddie Mercury. This was the first sign that Queen would become the ultimate fantasy/SF/glam band, who would later add their epic sound to movies like Flash Gordon and Highlander. - AN

11. Dr. Octagon — Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996)
10. Daft Punk — Discovery (2001)
9. Vangelis — Albedo 0.39 (1976)
8. Radiohead — OK Computer (1997)
7. Pink Floyd — Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
6. Kraftwerk — The Man-Machine (1978)
5. Parliament — Mothership Connection (1975)
4. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds (1978)
3. Rush — 2112 (1976)
2. Janelle Monae — The ArchAndroid (2010)
1. David Bowie — The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Speaking of Ziggy Stardust, perhaps io9 should have considered William Shatner’s space opera Seeking Major Tom that was released last year. It is a full-on sequel to the Major Tom character introduced by Bowie, and Shatner even does an interesting spoken-word rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (we’d even get some more Queen on the list again). I blog about it here.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

She came without a farthing...


I attended a local numismatics club meeting here in Calgary the other night. They were having a guest speaker give a presentation on Masonic coins and related numismatic collectibles so being a fan of the craft, I was very interested in hearing his talk.


After going through his collection of Masonic drink tokens and lodge medals, he showed a British coin whose reverse face had been punched with a Masonic compass and square symbol. The specific coin he showed was a farthing.

A farthing?

Here in Canada, this is not a well-known term. As a matter of fact, the only time I’ve ever heard the word was in All Dead, All Dead which probably explains why I was hearing the song in my head as the presentation wound down for the evening.

And then I got thinking about Brian’s series of sixpence coins he’s had minted over the years. From what I can find online, he first had them produced for this Back To The Light tour in 1993, another series was produced for the We Will Rock You show at Paris Las Vegas in 2005, and another series for the Queen-Paul Rodgers tour in 2008. Damn, I’ve been to all three of these events and haven’t been able to find a single coin.

I wonder if Brian ever considered producing a Queen farthing coin. It wouldn’t have the same connection to his preference for sixpence coins as plectrums, but it would have been a unique collectible from the News of the World era.  

I see that the Canadian penny will be suffering a similar fate that befell the lowly British farthing back in 1960. Canada will be removing the penny from circulation in the fall of 2012 due to the rising cost of production and peoples’ tendency to hoard them instead of using them as currency.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Queen on Idol


Media Moment: American Idol
Queen-related: Queen week


Although this is the goal of American Idol every week, having a Queen theme allows the show producers to state it colloquially, it would seem. 

After receiving a heads-up email from Queenonline about their upcoming appearance on Idol, I PVRed both the performance and elimination episodes and have just now gotten around to watching them. Yes, Queen factored heavily in the series this week and I think the special guests were pretty pumped about them as well.

After the obligatory career recap of the band, Brian and Roger were shown speaking to the six remaining Idol contestants about everything from how to mimic Freddie to dealing with rejection and failure. (I’d be very interested in seeing the entire footage of this meeting rather than the three minutes that ran on Idol.)

The show then cut to the six contestants performing a medley of Queen tunes. A few seconds into the start of the show, Brian and Roger emerge from the shadows to help out the group.

The first hour of the two-hour show was dedicated to each contestant singing a hand-picked Queen song; and the second hour was filled with an R&B song choice of their own.

Another aspect of American Idol that occurred to me after this latest elimination round was that mentor-in-residence Jimmy Iovine is filling the void created by Simon Cowell’s departure. As an unofficial fourth judge, Iovine seems to have the lion’s share of harsh criticisms for the contestants. Here’s what he had to say about each of their Queen-song performances:

Jennifer [Sanchez] singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is just a plain ol’ mistake. And then, add to it the three faces of Jessica that came on the screen — I was watching the show and it actually scared me. That bit was less Queen and more Stephen King.”

“I think Skyler [Laine] did a very, very competent job on The Show Must Go On. It’s a great song, she sang it powerful [sic], a little out of her thing . . . it wasn’t really a country song . . . more like a pop song but she did a very, very, very good job.”

“I was really impressed last night with Joshua [Ledet] doing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. He showed me something in the crossover aspect of his career that he can really hit on . . . that Gary U.S. Bonds feel with Sam Cooke singing a Queen song shows he knows how to interpret. And he can cross over to pop.”

Elise [Testone] . . . I believe she picked the wrong Queen song [I Want It All]. She picked sort of a monotone, stadium anthem. What happens when you do that is it comes off as ‘clubby.’ I felt like I was in a night club somewhere in the back or beyond. It didn’t move me. I didn’t want to hit rewind, I didn’t want to hear it again. She’s a great singer . . . wrong song!”

“Ryan is not the only person not feeling well on the show this week. Phillip [Phillips] is really having a rough time and it’s starting to show and by not feeling well, I believe he’s lacking in the energy he would need to pull that sort of character off on Fat Bottomed Girl [sic]. If you watched Jack Black and Casey [Abrams] do it from last year, they exploded that song. I don’t think we got that tonight . . . it wasn’t, uh, it was just missing something.”

“I wonder if Hollie [Cavanagh] by choosing the song Save Me by Queen was a subconscious plea to the public here. She did a very good job — this was a hard one. Freddie Mercury is top because of the way he sings . . . it’s so, so unique. He takes words and turns them into things that no one would ever think you could turn them into. She tripped up on the very end and she got slightly out of tune. Can she get through the lyrics of the song and the meaning of the song? Technically, she was a B+.”

What I noticed about this particular episode was that the video projections on the back screen and side panels of the stage were tailored to the song or served to reinforce the current personality on stage. Most of this stage design stuff worked really well particularly if the song already has a strong visual connotation to capitalize on.

The Mick Rock/Bruce Gowers homage behind Jessica Sanchez did seem a bit creepy, as Jimmy stated. During I Want It All, there was some funky typographic animation playing out behind Elise as she belted out the chorus. Not sure what the purpose of it was other than to make sure the audience knew the words. With Crazy Little Thing Called Love, there was, I think, an interesting nod to the design trends of the 1950s, which was the rockabilly era the song typically gets ascribed to. Curiously, the video accompaniment for Phillip showed a bunch of child-like drawings. I’m guessing that’s a reference to the drawing ability of a boy who’s been left with a Naughty Nanny. (I’d really like to see the set designer’s notes for those sketches.)

As for The Show Must Go On and Save Me, I don't think they had much to go on other than Queen footage which wouldn’t have worked, so the set designs for Skylar and Hollie seemed non-specific.

Elimination Episode

I got a sneak peek at what I’m in for on July 2, 2012 when The Queen Extravaganza opened the show with Somebody To Love. Seeing Marc Martel without his ’stache was a surprise. Brian and Roger joined the tribute band onstage for the final moments of the song although it’s too bad the three judges (and Jimmy!) didn’t give feedback on the performance. That would have been an interesting twist but I’m not sure Roger would want to risk any negative criticism before the QE hits the road on their North American tour. Personally, I’m hoping there’s no backflips by the guitarist when they swing through Calgary in July. It’s already a stretch to accept two guitarists in a Queen tribute band, even worse when one wants to be in a Cirque show, too.

Two other incidental Queenish moments happened during this elimination episode: Casey and Katy.

Season ten finalist Casey Abrams spoke with Ryan Seacrest briefly and it was my wife who noticed he was wearing a We Will Rock You t-shirt beneath his sport coat. And Katy Perry performed her latest single, A Part of Me, looking a bit zombie-ish, in my opinion. I think it was partly the heavy eyeliner and the stark stage lighting, but the military night vision goggles effect really made her and her dance troupe look like the undead.

How is this Queen related? Her performance certainly wasn’t but backstage, however, things must have been abuzz with Katy mingling with Brian and Roger since she’s known to be a huge Freddie fan herself. As an aside, I thought of Steven Tyler’s comment to Hollie Cavanagh after performing Save Me which had a strong, simple melody. . . something that he thought was missing in a lot of today’s music. I didn’t feel Perry’s song had much of a melody either.

And finally . . . this opening credit on the elimination episode pissed me off:







Really? All it takes is to win one season of American Idol and you’re a music legend? My mistake . . . I thought it required a lot more effort than that.



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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cohen vs Jackman?


I can scratch another item off of my bucket list . . . to see a comic book that features Wolverine — Marvel Comic’s favourite Canadian superhero — and Freddie Mercury!




What madness is this?

Apparently, it was a mid-1990s pitch to Marvel Comics by an unspecified artist looking to break into the industry as either an artist or writer, or both. (You can read about it here.)

When this pitch was made public in 2010, another comic artist felt compelled to take the unbelievable story and tighten up the visuals and the Mercury-Wolverine pairing went viral again with this more polished panel from Colleen Coover:

Wow, this storyline is full of potential, eh? Perhaps Roger and Brian should sponsor a contest to have fans explore this idea even more.

Now that I’m thinking about it, this could easily have been an issue of Marvel’s old “What If…” series from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Those “alternate universe” story lines would have been perfect to allow these two characters to share the same page. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that series served as inspiration for the pitch to Marvel.

Freddie was featured in a now discontinued digital comic called Black Opus Vol. 1 that was a free download from Dog Star Comics back in 2010. Below is a sample panel that was used as a promo back in 2010.

The comic has since disappeared from the Internet and even the Dog Star website now defaults to a web design company, presumably affiliated with Dog Star in some way.

I do own a copy of a Queen-themed comic called — surprise, surprise — Queen, A Night at the Opera. It’s been a number of years since I flipped through it but I seem to recall that it was essentially the story of the making of ANATO with comic book panel interpretations of a few DoRo videos.

The big difference between the ANATO comic and the Marvel pitch, in my opinion, is one of fantasy and escapism. The Hard Rock comic (shown to the left) is grounded in reality whereas the Wolverine and Freddie story is pure fantasy. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for what to do with the Freddie Mercury persona.

He covered a lot of fertile ground from a storyteller’s point of view. It’s all there: kings, queens, fairies, ogres, far away lands, religious overtones, killer robots, sports anthems, vaudeville, and even pet cats. Throw in Brian’s time travel themes, Roger’s political angles, and John’s Emerald Bar location and storylines can go in any direction.

What if Freddie had never died? Maybe Marvel should tackle that one.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

A tribute to a tribute


Twenty years ago today I was glued to my apartment-sized Sony Trinitron watching the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. I was prudent enough at the time to record the whole five-hour Much Music broadcast onto a six-hour VHS tape and  even managed to record some of the related news coverage after the concert to round out the extra hour I had left over at the end of the tape.

Since I had a homemade video recording, I thought I’d do up a homemade video sleeve since, in 1992, I had the tools to do so: an early version of Aldus PageMaker, a scanner, and a 300 dpi LED printer. (Hey, the Queen crest may be distorted but modifying it on screen, adding some text, and then printing it off was nothing short of magic.)

The television broadcast was interesting because it invited us backstage to see how other musical icons grieve when one of their own has been lost. To this day, however, I’ve never really come to terms with Cindy Crawford’s off-hand comment to Erica Ehm — the Much Music VJ who was tasked with hosting duties at Wembley Stadium — about why she was there. Crawford merely said she thought it was “cool to hang out backstage with the other celebrities.”

Really? That’s the highlight of your participation?

Spinal Tap was cool, however, as were many of the other surprise combinations that night. And let’s not forget that it was George Michael’s performance here that kickstarted the whole discussion of Freddie’s “replacement” . . . a discussion that is just as relevant today with Adam Lambert about to join them on-stage soon.

So with an estimated global viewership of close to two billion* and funds raised in the tens of millions for the newly formed Mercury Phoenix Trust, I think it was a worthy send-off for Freddie.

Now, if I can only find a way to get that six-hour video recording off the tape and onto a DVD, I’d have it made. But that tape ain’t getting any younger; not to mention that finding a decent VCR to play it back on is nearly impossible as well.

* Quoted from one of the organizers in the video.

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Serendipity alive and well in Kensington


Serendipity is my philosophy in finding topics for this Queen blog. I usually let the blueprint of life determine what random Queen event happens to enter my field of view at any given moment.

Here’s another great example.

I recently became Facebook friends with another student of mine and I happened to notice that she listed her employer as being ‘Queen Boutique.” Not a big surprise, I suppose, since we in Canada frequently capitalize on our royalty-laden British heritage as a convenient platform for commercial purposes. Even so, I clicked on it to see for myself whether “Queen Boutique” actually embodied the band’s motif in some way.

Clicking on the Facebook link brought up their store’s FB page. Hey, would you look at that . . . a store called Queen Boutique that sells clothes and is located in a neighbourhood called Kensington? Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

After some snooping on the official Queen Boutique website, I came across some Freddie Mercury references, most in the form of quotes that relate back to his fashion sense and outlook on life. Obviously, the store name wasn’t a coincidence.

As I dug deeper, I started to wonder how such a prominent Queen-related store could have eluded my attention for so long. I live within walking distance of Kensington, for heaven’s sake. Oh well, I guess it shows that there’s more going than what first meets the eye.

I’m now curious as to why the store owner(s) used Queen as part of their identity, so I sent my student a quick note asking if her employer would be willing to discuss it with me. With an affirmative answer, I made an appointment to go down to Kensington and meet with store owner and Queen fan Rio Smith.

She, along with her younger sister Cyd Connell and their mother Jo Connell, opened the Calgary store about two-and-a-half years ago. The Queen Boutique, however, goes back six years before that when the three of them opened a seasonal clothing store in Osoyoos, BC to cater to an upscale, summer clientele.

According to Rio, the name ”Queen Boutique” wasn’t originally intended to honour Freddie or the band at all. No loss there because on a semiotic level, the notion of being treated like a princess or a queen would work as well, and the fact that the two words — queen and boutique — have a subtle alliterative quality to their pronunciation, the name does work even without an overt Freddie connotation.

For the Connell clan who are native Calgarians, this meant a few road trips back-and-forth between Osoyoos and Calgary. Thankfully, Rio’s dad cranked Queen’s Greatest Hits for many of those trips. With the band now on her mind, Rio found herself Googling Freddie and came across some of his quotes regarding fashion that she felt “. . . were so exactly what the store was about.” So began the serendipitous connection between Queen and the Queen Boutique.

With a move back to Calgary and a minty-fresh store front location, Rio felt the Freddie-isms needed to go beyond just their website and find a place in their retail environment.

So, she plastered the wall of the store’s back room with these quotations as well as sayings that reflected the “no boundaries” philosophy that Queen was famous for.









At this point, serendipity finds Rio again when she learns that Freddie died in the Kensington area of London. Kensington, as mentioned already, is also the name of the trendy shopping district just outside Calgary’s downtown core where the Queen Boutique calls home.

As well, Rio’s dad is also of English heritage — which may explain at least a passing interest in the music of Queen during the long car rides — and even Rio’s nanny’s name is Queenie (no joking!).

Add to all of this, one of her employee’s teachers comes knocking with a Queen question, thus adding another layer of coincidence.

There’s one more Queen-related item on Rio’s wish list: to get a bunch of old Freddie photos framed and assemble them into a collage on one of the store walls inside her retail space. This is something that would visually tie in the connection between the mission statement of the store and Freddie’s perspective on fashion. Maybe I can help her scope out a few images that would fit the bill.

If you find yourself in the Kensington area of Calgary, I’d recommend stopping in to the Queen Boutique and say hi to Rio and her staff if you can. If you buy something, you’ll even get one of these lovely paper bags as a parting gift:





https://www.facebook.com/www.queenboutique.ca
http://www.queenboutique.ca


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In honour of 4/20 . . .


. . . I think I’ll listen to Another One Bites the Dust backwards until I get the munchies or really paranoid.



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Thursday, April 12, 2012

How much is that Brian in the window?


When I paid a visit to West Edmonton Mall (WEM) in the summer of 2011, it was my first time there since 1987. The Mall had definitely changed but in many ways it has stayed the same. One of my favourite stores back in the day was Mr. Entertainment, a retail franchise offering instruments, sheet music, and related paraphernalia.

One thing that did change after a 24-year hiatus was the name of this store which was now known as The Rock Shop. I must admit, though, that that name struck me more as a jewelry store or precious stone museum. But no, it was the old Mr. Entertainment outlet repackaged under a new moniker. (At least that was the story I got from the sales clerk when I stopped in.)

Out of curiosity, I asked him if he had any Queen items in the store since I didn’t even see any sheet music of theirs for sale. To my surprise, he pointed to the glass display case behind me and said that this…



Brian May pedal was actually on sale for $250, which is half of what the retail price is. I was giving serious thought to shelling out the cash but in the end decided it was too much for a spontaneous purchase.

I found myself rethinking the purchase though when my wife went to Edmonton a few months ago with her co-workers and she asked me if there was anything I wanted from the Mall.

Well . . . there is one thing.

I gave her the details on what the item was but had to look up the exact store location on the WEM website. To my surprise, the storefront photo of The Rock Shop on the Mall’s website looked like this:

Holy shit, is that a life-sized cardboard display of Brian? How come I didn’t see it in the store when I was there last summer? Maybe it was a new display? Whatever the case, I told my wife to look for “Brian” in the window.

It turns out he’s not there anymore, so WEM must not have updated their website in at least a year.

Damn, I wonder what store management did with the cardboard display? That would have been a cool collector’s item.


http://www.wem.ca/#/store-directory-maps/photo-music-books-stationery/the-rock-shop
http://wonderverb.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/digitech-brian-may-artist-signature-model-pedal/


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter weekend gives rise to Queen connections




During this Easter weekend I thought it would be appropriate to call attention to many of the Internet discussions which draw Queen into Christianity as well as other religions.

As a body of work, their music has garnered both favour and derision from those religious voices seeking a poster child for their scorn or for their ideals. Freddie, with his incredibly complex but shy persona, is a frequent target for these groups. If it’s not his music itself that is the point of entry into a debate about religion, it was his decadent lifestyle that led to an early death which seems to be fair game for symbolizing all that is wrong in the world.

Since it is Easter, let’s start with Christianity . . .

Christianity

With Catholicism, convergence with Queen doesn’t get more literal than comparing Freddie to the Pope and that’s exactly what this Washington Post panelist chose to do with his article called What the Pope and Freddie Mercury Have in Common. What I find interesting is that the journalist appears to be of Indian descent himself but is discussing a Catholic issue — condom usage. Does he have street credibility in covering this topic? I think so since he is merely observing and commenting on a world event and drawing upon Freddie’s reputation as a high profile AIDS victim was a good one given the recognition factor he could tap into. And the fact that both Mr. Singh and Freddie were of Indian heritage brings a refreshing perspective to the story.

A random visit to a demoted Catholic cathedral in a French seaside locale gives a tourist (and Queen fan) an unexpected surprise when a group of three people break out into a gospel hymn and followed that up with Somebody to Love. Interesting. Were the visitors Catholic themselves? Did their leader think that singing STL was apropro in a church given the song’s gospel underpinnings? Whatever the case, it would appear that most if not all visitors to that church at that moment were Queen fans.

Judaism

Since Jewish Passover is also being observed (April 6-13, 2012), check out this Bohemian Rhapsody spoof that’s been reworked as Bohemian Passover. I take it that the song’s layered reference to Allah didn’t cause the parody writers to reconsider another less culturally sensitive song. Everyone knows this song, though, so if it’s good enough for the Muppets to spoof, why not the Jewish community. 



Islam

Boy, Freddie gets pulled in both directions with Islam. On one hand, he is a trailblazer for pop musicians in Iran when Queen became the first government-sanctioned western musical act to be openly marketed in that country. This is particularly intriguing because an Iranian stamp of approval for the music is also a tacit approval of homosexuality. Even Elton John got the nod in Iran, so maybe Ahmadinejad’s administration is not as socially conservative as we’re led to believe — or they’re merely oblivious to that side of the artists’ lives.

Another Islamic group that wasn’t so accommodating to Freddie’s legacy was Zanzibar’s Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation which successfully shut down a Freddie celebration scheduled for his birthday in 2006. Wait a minute. Shouldn’t there be mutual agreement on these things within such a high context culture? Either accept the music due to the odd Allah-inspired lyric, or condemn Freddie because of his lifestyle. If not, there’s some picking-and-choosing of moral absolutes going on (which seems very Western, I must say). This cartoon sums up the silliness of the situation.

Zoroastrianism

When Freddie was cremated after a formal Zoroastrian funeral service, I think many fans were surprised to learn he wasn’t Christian, or even a Muslim by association. He wrote songs about Jesus, for Christ’s sake (pardon the pun). He wrote songs that referred to Allah, for God’s sake. But we never heard a song that featured Ahura Mazdā (or maybe he did, I’ll have to go back and give everything a close listen!).  Freddie warrants an appearance on this site about cremation rituals within various religions, which includes an entry on Zoroastrianism. I suspect one of the reasons Freddie and/or his family opted for cremation, which is typically forbidden in Zoroastrian burial tradition, was to intentionally avoid his burial location being turned into a shrine, a la Jim Morrison at Père Lachaise  Cemetery in Paris.

Mormonism

With GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney making the news almost daily as he inches closer toward the Republican candidacy in the U.S., his family, Mormonism, and slick hair were bound to attract media attention outside of his political views. His son, Craig, is being compared to Freddie as they share similar physical characteristics and now the gay community is pre-declaring him one of their own, as this anonymous group member posted:

“With no disrespect to Freddie Mercury, this guy is a Queen Mercury clone. Has anyone looked more gay than him??!!! A sixth-generation member of The Church of Lady Divine & Latter-day Cockettes.”
Mormons, by and large, seem to have a tremendous amount of respect for Freddie; at least from what I could find online. Many Brigham Young University alumni seem fond of him to a point that I didn’t expect to find that level of recognition. In one issue of Marriott Magazine, the quarterly periodical of the Marriott School of Business at BYU, a feature story on Carine Clark, a 1993 MBA graduate, cites Freddie and BoRhap as a metaphor in her quest to be a rock star in addition to being CMO at Symantec. What’s not clear in the article is whether the Freddie reference came from Ms. Clark herself, or was introduced by the writer as part of the rock ’n’ roll theme throughout the story.

In the brief biography on her website, novelist Linda Paulson Adams, a 1990 BYU graduate in English, mentions Freddie, Brian, and Roger as three of her favourite songwriters. Why would a novelist mention favourite songsmiths? Well, the site also states that she’s a “. . . singer-songwriter, she performs under the stage name Linda Phoenix.” Hey, maybe there’s a tie-in to the Mercury-Phoenix Trust? Probably not. You can follow her blog here which frequently includes Queen in her posts.

This poorly drawn rendering of Freddie was posted as a reply to a subject line of “Your heart will definitely be beating fast” on a discussion board for the BYU Cougars sports fans. I’m not sure why it was posted but someone in the group named “BYUBandfan” recognized it as Freddie.

Salt Lake City itself even seems to be in the mood to celebrate Queen’s music. Their annual Deer Valley Music Fest is billed as “Classic, symphonic music meets jazz, Broadway, and even Freddie Mercury with this very accessible set of performances that are set to electrify the Deer Valley Snow Park Amphitheater . . . The music of the Eagles and Queen get the classical treatment . . .”

Even a few New World Mormons have fondness for Freddie. One discussion board contributor called Going Slightly Mad is a frequent poster on topics related to ex-LDS members. This person’s tagline is a Freddie quote: “Oh, I was not made for heaven. No, I don’t want to go to heaven. Hell is much better. Think of all the interesting people you’re going to meet down there!”

Unfortunately, not all Freddie occurrences in the LDS community are so positive. The controversial Mormon practice of baptism for the dead has generated unsavoury comments about post-mortem baptisms and many people have taken pot shots at the religion as a whole. One particularly harsh critic decided that no less than the founder of the LDS church, Joseph Smith, deserved to be mentioned in the same sentence as Freddie.

“. . . so here are some facts about some dead Mormons: Joseph Smith Junior. Founder of the Mormon Church: Gay – Raped by a cowboy at age 15, Joseph Smith Junior found that he loved it up the arse and was gayer than Freddie Mercury. Had gay sex right up to the week of his death, and leading theories suggest that he and his brother (also gay, also Mormon, Hyrum Smith) were actually shot for starting a gay paedophile ring in Illinois.” 
Good, bad, or otherwise, I’d like to see Rock Hudson or Liberace used as the poster-child for being the epitome of gayness. Why does this burden always fall on Freddie’s shoulders?

Scientology*

I would be curious to know whether John Travolta or Tom Cruise are Queen fans. Whatever the case, Scientology got a beatdown by some L. Ron Hubbard haters when they decided to redo Death on Two Legs but this time it wasn’t dedicated to Queen’s ex-manager . . . it was dedicated to Scientology.



Astrology

Hey, it’s not a true religion, per se, but we might as well throw in all of the horoscopes associated with Freddie’s astrology charts while we’re at it. What a surprise . . . the metal ascribed to him is hydrargyrum, better known as mercury.

Freemasonry

It’s true that Freemasonry is not a religion either but it seems that any high profile personality from any point in history has been a mason at some point. So how does Freddie factor into this scenario? He appears in a few online discussions of the topic such as this one. And this one which claims BoRhap is an allegory for a masonic conspiracy.

Finding spirituality in Queen’s music

M.V. Ahundova goes to great lengths to explain every spiritual aspect of Queen’s musical oeuvre. The problem is, he (she?) claims that pretty much every Queen song has a religious basis to it, which is patently untrue. Why analyze the song ’39 through a religious lens when Brian himself has already explained the motivation for the song being a Hermann Hesse poem.

God loves Freddie

A local pastor with the New Hope Church here in Calgary actually had a sermon back in 2006 that incorporated Freddie and Queen as an entry point into understanding God’s love.

God hates Freddie

Not all religions are as progressive as the New Hope Church is, I guess. Just take a look at the venom spewed towards Freddie by David J. Stewart here

So which is it . . . does God love or hate Freddie? It doesn’t really matter because Freddie’s cosmology didn’t include an Abrahamic God anyway. He acknowledged many forms of spirituality which, in my mind, made him an even more exceptional human being.

Postscript (August 30, 2012) — Well, I guess we know how Tom Cruise feels about Freddie . . . at least as it pertains to promoting his movie, Rock of Ages.











Freggie Mercury pic - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/photos/jowhiley/5828/14#gallery5828
Craig Romney pic – http://www.gay.net/entertainment/2012/02/09/hey-gurls-internet-turned-mitt-romney’s-son-fully-grown-meme
http://www.thecityofsaltlakecity.com/salt-lake-city-local/salt-lake-city-festivals-shows.html
http://www.immortality.co.nz/lds.html
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Foolish Quiz


In honour of April Fool’s Day — and my birthday, I’ll add — here’s a little foolish quiz. Can you match the lyric to the song title? The winner gets an all-expense paid trip to the lovely island of Sans Serriffe.

Song Lyric
“…a fool for your love”
“…a fool to make you a home”
“Beyond the rage of foolish pride”
“But I'm no fool…”
“Don’t be a fool…”
“Don’t fool with fools…”
“Fool always jumping…”
“…fools of the first division”
“I’m a fool, for I believed your lies”
“It’s only fools they make these rules”
“…make us out to be fools”
“My heart makes a fool of me”
“Oh no matter fool”
“One foolish world…”
“…she’ll take you for a fool”
“…that dog-gone fool”
“They’d say we’re all fools…”
“You’re just another fool”

Song Title
Dead on Time
Death on Two Legs
Don’t Try So Hard
Fight From the Inside
Good Company
Hang On In There
The Hitman
I Go Crazy
In the Lap of the Gods…Revisited
Las Palabras De Amor (The Words of Love)
More of That Jazz
Sail Away Sweet Sister (To the Sister I Never Had)
Scandal
Sweet Lady
Teo Torriatte
Time To Shine
Who Needs You
You Don’t Fool Me

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