The Value of Original Thought


From the time I was in grade school, I had come to understand the world around me in monochromatic equations. I borrowed on this hopelessness as a different way of learning the world; and in so doing, my jaded sensibilities would introduce me to books and girls and music.

Books were an escape to places the real world could not touch. I lost myself in the swashbuckling exploits of Monsieur d’Artagnan, who graduated from rags to the royal guard in The Three Musketeers. I learned the art of feminine wiles when fourth grade Tammy seduced third grade me with her Helen Reddy bob. And music bled all my anger away, replacing it with a sublime equanimity.

I’m thankful for having grown up in a time when books were tactile fascinations, girls were precocious junior members of the Steinem brigade and music was more vast and mysterious than the deep blue of outer space.

Music was a magical enterprise back in the day. New albums would happen out of thin air, without the need for reveals or months long chatter. A hit song would just show up, drop heat on a DJ’s turntable and then jailbreak to the record stores.

It seemed as if every group possessed license to its own unique way of doing business. Lyrics were the birthright and melody the sweet way home. As fans, we were hit and miss when it came to the words; swinging from the arches and striking matches to the pounding of that bass. Because the scratchy grooves didn’t matter a lick, and the right or wrong of it mattered even less than that. Music wasn’t pristine and logical, because we weren’t asking for it to show up in its Sunday best.

And really, thank God for Queen. Because theirs was a sound so original that it stood out even then, inside a world full of musical giants. Theirs was a gift so transcendent that its cosmic bloom challenged our expectations from the very first time.

So it was by the early eighties that my education had coalesced into ever more simple fixations. I loved the palace intrigue of girls who smoked and cussed and wore puffer jackets. I was fascinated at the idea that I could see Ted Williams swing simply by having read about it in so many books and magazines. And I wondered what in the blessed fuck Freddie Mercury was talking about, and the mystery of it all was blissful.

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t so much a biopic as it is a gift, to those of us who grew up on transistor radios and record stores and turntables. Which is why my attempt at doing a movie review was never going to work. Because you can’t grade soul. You either got it, or you don’t.

For what it’s worth, I loved the film in spite of itself. Because truth be told, it comes off as erratic at times and it messes with the facts more than a politician at last call. And I don’t care, because Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury the way Sacha Baron Cohen never could have; with a graceful humility and a genuine awkwardness that belies the ultimate showman’s larger than life presence. And the music is a symphonic palette of genesis and mortality; an emphatic blend of quiet moments and glorious culminations.

Mercury wrote music for the people who didn’t belong to anything, anywhere or anyone. The band turned the monochrome into technicolor. Together, they changed the way we think about music. They spooked the words out of extravagant catastrophes and turned them into operas and anthems, ballads and rock songs.

It didn’t matter what you listened to, because Queen’s appeal struck a chord with everyone. From metal to disco to classic rock and hip hop. They simply belonged.

To all of us.




40 thoughts on “The Value of Original Thought

  1. B,

    This is one hundred times better than any review of a move could ever be. You be shared you.and what a role books and music have played in your life. And still do.

    I could not agree with you more. I couldn’t see Cohen playing Freddie (and not just because I can’t stand the guy) especially now that we were fitted with Rami Malek’s gift of himself in embodying Mercury so well.

    I don’t care that they played with the timelines and fudged some deets. I truly believe they got the essence of the man and the fraternity that was Queen.

    Fabulous writing, as per (as you’d say).


    Liked by 2 people

    • Q,

      A hundred times bettah? That’s hot buttah right there! Thank you for thinking so, because I couldn’t harness the words into a review to save my life. They kept scattering into something else entirely. So I just went with where it all began to here.

      Cohen wanted to buy the deed to Mercury, whereas Malek understood it wasn’t happening. It wasn’t about owning a role, it was about borrowing the essence of a musical genius. Malek’s subtlety was perfect for this role. And the way he transformed when on stage, he nailed it.

      Yes! Like that moment of discovery when Rhapsody is born with a few innocent taps of the piano keys . . . no matter WHERE it happened or how, it happened. Like that. There was a genesis, after which there was an everything else. If you weren’t plugged in to the momentous quality of that quiet moment, then you ain’t got a heartbeat.

      Hahaha! Thank you Q. MWAH!!


      Liked by 1 person

      • B,

        At the least (didn’t want to come off as too gushy…) I will take this type of post over a straight-up review any day.

        That is exactly it. Malek totally respected what he was called on to do. He was Freddie – even if he can’t sing 😉 (Insert plug for Canadian Marc Martel who was called in for the extra signing…)

        Yes, yes and yes. And I swear, Bohemian Rhapsody has become an anthem for the ages… when you have all the kids in my family knowing all the words – remind me to tell you about Antigua – or little three-year olds in cars singing it… you know it has transcended time and will forever remain.

        Always, B, Always. MWAH!!


        Liked by 1 person

        • Ain’t nobody gots time for gushy. Because that’s not what Queen or Freddie ever were, gushy. Real, authentic, true.

          Martel did a splendid job in the voice overs. It’s eerie how much he sounds like Mercury. While Malek, he DID become Mercury in his mannerisms, especially the subtle ones. What a magnificent turn!

          Haha! My kids never dug him, the ingrates! LOL.

          Always to the always . . .

          Liked by 1 person

          • No gushy here or there.

            That he did, Martel, that is; and boy oh boy, that he did fabulously, Malik, that is.

            Well my kid do. Well at least the one song 🙄😏

            A to the A to the A

            Liked by 1 person

          • Here, there, anywhere . . .

            Certain peeps, such as Mercury, are so difficult to play because there’s so much to them. Freddie was the life of the party but also shy. He was gregarious but also withdrawn. He was everybody’s friend, and he was lonely. Malik captured that, brilliantly. The kid should be recognized as such . . . some kinda hardware I mean.

            I think everybody knows Rhapsody. It’s just one of those songs. And unlike “American Pie” which is insufferably long, Rhapsody coulda gone another six minutes and it would’ve been great.

            Gimme an A! Gimme another A! Gimme one more A!!!

            Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha! She introduced me to female Hall of Fame singers such as Helen Reddy, Carole King and Karen Carpenter, among others.

      I came to Queen years later, and like you and everybody else who did . . I never stopped. And YES! Me too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The world is blessed for Freddie Mercury lived. I’m a wee bit younger than you methinks, but he still captured my attention, as good music and especially anyone who lives life authentically always does. Poetry set to music. And a lovely soul to boot. I’ll see the movie when it comes out in an electronic format at home (my own personal theater these days). I appreciate the heads-up on the experience of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful, Marc. I discovered Queen as an older adult. I was an established business person when they came on the scene. It was love at first listen. These guys sang about my childhood, life, and loves. As it ended up, I wrote two of my five (so far) books to Queen’s music. They were the perfect muse. I now write to Spotify and am more than pleased when a Queen number comes up on my playlist. I gotta see the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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