Song of the Day, November 23: ’39 by Queen

Queen39On their finest album, each member of Queen had one truly magical moment. A Night At the Opera was the moment when the Queen sound fully emerged, a clever blend of camp, drama, bombast, emotion, and musical diversity. Guitarist Brian May crafted ’39, one of the best songs the group ever recorded.

It’s a mostly acoustic sci-fi ballad about the perils of time dilation. And it works. Really. May’s protagonists go on a journey into space, seeking out new worlds for the human race as their old world slowly dies. Because of the vagaries of near-light-speed travel, they return home younger than their grandchildren to a world farther gone. It could be a hokey conceit or a cosmic mess, but May and company invest it with such humanity that it becomes a gorgeous parable. The minimalist delivery helps. May famously asked John Deacon to play double bass on the song, intending it as a joke. The next day, Deacon hand learned his part on the instrument, one of several delightful touches. Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor provide sparkling harmonies on the chorus, rounding out the sense of a folk fable delivered with passion.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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