Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Mark Owen, We Lost The Sea – ‘A Night at the Opera’ by Queen (1975)
Dear A Night at the Opera,
Hello, my dear old flamboyant friend. Has it been a while? Maybe. It doesn’t ever seem to matter if it’s days or years that have passed since we last hung out, it’s like the first time, every time. You’ve always been electric, colourful and fun as hell.
From the time I was about eight-years-old, you were the first album I really remember loving. I used to have my mum jump on our computer (which was cutting edge at the time with its five-inch floppy disc drive) and type up all the lyrics and print them out on that crazy paper with perforated edges so I could sing along while blasting it on my Dad’s stereo.
Fast forward decades and I’m now a grown man who continues to enjoy you with my own sons. The grown man who still sings to all the rounds in ‘The Prophet Song’ and plays air guitar to the unmistakable sound of Brian May. The grown man who still headbangs like he’s in Wayne’s World to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and does all the voices.
You are such a wide and varied pallet of colour and mood. Colourful and extravagant, absolutely unashamedly over the top. Early on I remember seeing footage of Freddie singing these songs and performing so powerfully that it left an impression on me about the power of music and performance. You taught me to never be disingenuous with music, always be honest with it, share with it your hopes and fears and use it as a way to communicate.
You are a teller of stories – about the ruthlessness of the record industry, about romantic seaside rendezvous and whatever the hell ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is actually about. You do it with such confidence and such command. Who the hell would release a song about being in love with your car? You would. And you would own the shit out of it.
Many years after listening to you countless times, I would go from standing on a wooden table in my backyard, using a rake as my guitar, imagining I was playing to Wembley-sized stadiums and honestly believing in my naive little heart that I WOULD BE FAMOUS ONE DAY to getting to stand on stage with a real guitar and play some cool as shit venues to great audiences. While the famous bit hasn’t exactly panned out accordingly, I would like to think that a bit of that attitude, that Freddie flare, is still in me somewhere. He’s encouraging me to go bigger every time, reminding me that sometimes more is actually better and sometimes you have to do things exactly as you see them regardless of what everyone else thinks.
Thank you for being a trailblazer. For making songs longer than three mins cool (or I’d be fucked). For just doing whatever the fuck you felt when you felt it. From both the little kid who had no idea Freddie was dead when he first heard you and the 32-year-old dude who still calls him Mr. Fahrenheit.
Your true and loyal friend,