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Posts Tagged ‘Freddie Mercury’

This evening I had some quality me time as Hubby was kind enough to let me go into Philly for a friend’s final doctoral recital. This amazingly talented young man sang at our wedding 14 years ago and Hubby knows of the large soft spot I have for this gent, for many reasons. I don’t know that the gent even knows how deep my fondness for him goes, but that isn’t the point. I know, and I maintain my level of trolling on fb to keep up with his glorious adventures as best I can.

One of the reasons I adore this gent is his amazing ability to evoke emotion. Ah, gentle reader, you may recall that’s one of my favorite aspects of the human experience. Welp, tonight he evoked emotions left and right. Somehow I managed to walk out with some mascara still on my lashes. His voice-he is a countertenor, so hauntingly beautiful it evokes images of the poetry of Victorian Romanticism. But this evening he sang in tenor. In my world, his voice ranks up there with Freddie’s. Oh my lanta, I wrote it. His control, richness, quality, and lots of other aspects put them together for me. They’re different, but equally amazing.

You know how Freddie could just scat and the audience would echo it back? You know how Freddie could just vocalize, sing random vowel sounds, and you could feel it in your soul? Same gift. Same blessing bestowed upon this gent. In one of the numbers, I believe it was called “Flight”, (you can yell at me later for not already knowing this beautiful song), he filled the hall with a myriad of emotions just with “ah”. Not many can do that. I can’t. He was raucous and bawdy while singing to us about ” Buddy’s Blues”. He had me weeping while he sang “If I Didn’t Believe in You”.

His accompanist was obviously talented at tickling the ivories, but more importantly he knew how to follow the singer. And he did with flair and bravado. That piano sounded like a full orchestra at times. And as I sat there in the theater I knew my mother-in-law was watching me with Bear at her side commenting that I cry too much. Bear would have probably gone with me. This was one of the types of events we would enjoy together. Of course if he had, we’d still be there because he’d still be talking with the accompanist!

After the official program was over, the gent thanked his fabulous pianist and sat down at the piano himself for one last number. A song special to him for his own reasons, and to his mother, who he sang it for. It’s a song special to many, me included, and I do believe the lady sitting behind me was a crying fool during the song like I was. My brother affectionately calls it “Avalanche” and if you think a wee bit you’ll know which song Ms. Nicks shared with the world. That song is like “Vienna” by Billy Joel. It crosses generations and all other boundaries. So many find meaning in it, even decades later.

Many emotions were evoked. And tonight I discovered a little wisdom that I’ve worked hard to gain. I was happy to be Salieri watching, listening, to Mozart. I left the hall feeling energized and full of life. That’s all.

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freddieStill miss him all these years later.  I still remember finding out about it from my roommate when I got back to our apartment.  Tonight I am watching the We Will Rock You concert.  He just finished singing “Love of my Life”… one of my favorites.  The concert also includes an amazing live version of “Somebody to Love”.  His voice still makes me sit in awe.  I still sit and stare at the showmanship, the performance, he and the band were phenomenal.  I looked again at the sheet music collection for their songs and realized that while I enjoy reading them, I will never be able to play them.  Far too complicated for my humble understandings of music.

I am thankful we have so many different ways of enjoying Freddie Mercury and his music, and Queen, but I still wish he were here making more music with the band, kid.

 

 

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We have resisted.  We still have albums, CDs, hell, we have 8-Tracks.  Still, today we have succumbed to the 21st century.  This evening my sons each got their own mp3 players.  For the price, I got a lot of features and won’t cry if (when) they accidentally destroy it.  I loaded The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” onto it as the debut song (good message to learn in that chorus…”but if you try sometimes, you might get what you need”).  Even as I type my sons are falling asleep to Queen.

The purpose of the mp3 players was to help the boys learn the music of their generation so that they would have more to talk about with their friends (at least that’s the reasoning they used when asking for the mp3 players).  Yet when I asked them for a list of songs they wanted downloaded to their mp3 players, these are the lists I was given.

Older son:  “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Gangham Style” (no, not going on the mp3 player), Justin Bieber songs, One Direction songs, Queen, The Beetles (I explained how to spell it when referring to the band, remember he’s a science guy, but for accuracy that is how it was written on his list), any songs by Batoven (Beethoven), Bach, and Motzart (Mozart).

Younger son:  Michael Jackson, “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, The Beatles, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Beautiful Boy (by John Lennon).   (He’s not necessarily a better speller than his older bro, but he dictated his list.)

I feel we have done a fine job of building their musical foundation.  As we explored the stacks of CDs, they also chose Earth, Wind, & Fire (particularly “that song from Night at the Museum“) and Brian Setzer Orchestra.  I also pulled Billy Joel, a 70s compilation CD, and Peter Gabriel’s So.  I’m smart enough to know to let Daddy pick the Sinatra that they need.  We’ll keep digging through the CDs and we’ll keep buying from Amazon (who graciously load it directly into the cloud for me).

So here we are joining the 21st century and they only ask for two or three artists that originated in this century.

As I played “Bohemian Rhapsody” for younger son, I felt such joy teaching him when to headbang, when to play air guitar versus air drums versus air piano.  We discussed cross-hand pieces for the piano.  I told him how the song was recorded without any synthesizers and the urban legend that surrounds how thin the tape got as they kept re-dubbing it to get the full chorus sound just from their four voices.  Ah, tradition in the 21st century is not so different from the traditions of yore.

I feel a certain peace knowing that my sons are drifting into sweet dreams listening to the beautiful vocals of Freddie, the amazing bass lines played by John, the extraordinary drum solos played by Roger, and the Red Special strummed by Brian.

freddie BrianMayNov1979    john and roger

 

 

 

 

And imagine the joy in our home when my sons discover that Queen has been Lego-ed.                                                Lego_Rock_Band_Queen_Pose

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I really am going to participate in Freddie for a Day one year.  My boss said she’d let me do it.  I need to pick an ensemble and just do it next year.  Put a reminder to myself on my work calendar to start prepping for it in July or something so I don’t forget.  I miss him.  I wish I could hear new songs from him and wish I could hear how his voice would have matured with age.  It was so gorgeous and full of so many emotions.  So rich.  Ah, Freddie, hope you had a hell of party today.

I sharpened pencils tonight.  40 of them-which means my sons are each four pencils short since they are each supposed to bring two dozen.  They can get more later.  I have double and triple checked their new backpacks.  They are set.  Hubby and I gave them new flashcards (math, history, and science) to celebrate tomorrow’s first day of school.  Older son also got a magnetic message board for his locker (first year with a locker!) and younger son got a new backpack clip.  We then asked them what time it is…and they answered with some random responses…dinner time, bedtime, back to school time.  Hubby and I finally said “Adventure Time” and gave them season 1 on dvd.  We watched a few episodes tonight.  Both boys were exhausted this evening and willingly climbed into their beds.  Younger son didn’t come out even once, just closed his heavy lids and fell asleep.  Older son was asleep even more quickly than usual.  It felt like there was a release for them.  Summer is over.  Back to routine.

I’m not going to walk older son to his classroom tomorrow.  Time to give him space.  He’s ready.  I am going to walk younger son to his classroom just in case the boy who spread the rumor is in the same class.  I want younger son to have a good first day and he may need some parental support to walk through the door.  If he decides in the morning to go it alone, I’ll let him.  But if he needs me, I’ll be there for him.

If only I could protect them from ever having their feelings hurt again or more deeply than they have already experienced.  I can’t-I have to let them feel it, live it on their own.  I can comfort, celebrate, and share in their lives.  I hope they learn to play the game, by the rules, while still having fun.  They are two of the loves of my life (Hubby’s the other!).

 

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Today I had the sad epiphany that I am “the man.” When this happened I do not know, but somehow I am the establishment. I am an administrator at a small, private university and work with students. Today, I asked to meet with a student because of a problem. The student was very defiant and defensive from the get-go. Every question I asked and each suggestion I offered were struck down. This student knew everything and had all the answers. The student left after about eight minutes, with the only resolution being that the student had gotten the last word.

I can’t say it was too difficult to get the last word because around six minutes into the exchange, I saw the look on the student’s face and realized…to this person, I am “the man!” I am the establishment trying to hold a student down because the department has policies and procedures that have to be followed. The job we were discussing “was not fun” and a “waste of time.” I’m “the man!”

When I began this job two and a half years ago, I had no idea that one of the unintended consequences would be this. I try to be a person the students can come to and seek advice, or to chat, or to hang. I try to create an atmosphere similar to the one in my student-worker job back in college. The atmosphere is there with some of the students I work with-I know it, I feel it, and they explicitly tell me. But with others, I am and will always be the establishment. How dreadful!

I am fully aware that I am the same age as their parents and so by default I can’t be cool. My references to films, television, and music are horribly outdated. One time, my class made a list of films I should watch so I could be a wee bit more hip. I couldn’t sit through most of them because the movies were rip-offs of the films of my teen years. Why watch a knock-off when I can watch the real thing? Some films, however, are standards-most students today know John  Hughes, they know Disney, they know horror films. But…

A student was telling me about the movies he saw over spring break. I asked if one was similar to Independence Day. He stared blankly at me. He was four when ID4 was released.

Only a few know about Queen. Sadly Freddie was dead before the current sophomores and freshmen were born. They know a few of the songs, mostly through sporting events and commercials. A handful know Neil Diamond because he was in some movie. But Carole King, James Taylor, and the British invasion of the 80’s are a mystery to them.

They watch shows I can’t wrap my brain around. They think the same things about my shows that I thought about the old CBS line-up, Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock (both of which I watch now if I catch them on tv). We do all share Betty White though, don’t we?

I will continue to try to be someone the students can turn to, if they choose. I will embrace what one of my students told me once in class. She said, “You’re not old. You’re cultured.” Cultured like a pearl with bits of wisdom, if anyone wants to listen.

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Ah, lunch with Freddie. Well, I suppose it would be filled with many decadent foods. Or perhaps no food, just the amazing opportunity to sing with him and his glorious set of pipes. Of course I would have my pre-pregnancy voice when I still had a break and could slip easily enough from head voice to chest voice. (Don’t ask how two pregnancies affected my voice. I’ll give you the short version-morning, noon and night sickness for about eight months each pregnancy equals way too many times getting the sicks (as my sons call it). It did damage and has gotten slightly better. Probably would get a lot better if I actually had the opportunity to sing like I used to.)

“Love of my Life,” “Seaside Rendezvouz,” and of course, “Somebody to Love” would be first up. I’ve sung these songs with him hundreds of times, but to hear his voice in person would be extraordinary. My cousin saw them in concert in the 70’s. I was a bit too young to have attended at the time, but she told me about it. She either gave Freddie a rose or he gave her a rose, but clearly they were in the spit zone. How cool would that be?

Eventually I would have to talk with Freddie about what made my connection to him so strong. Our teeth. It is said he was worried if he got them fixed it might impact his singing. I didn’t know about that as a girl. I just knew I hated being called Bugs Bunny. I happily let the orthodontist stick those silver clamps on my teeth. But you never let go of the feelings. Now I don’t sit each day crying about it, but the hurt remains still buried deep down inside. I dealt with my teen angst in a more creative way, perhaps because of my connection to Freddie. He was bold and audacious. He exuded confidence, regardless of what he may have been like on the inside. I adopted the same strategy. No, not as flamboyantly as he did but I was on a tighter budget.

As I began to find my way and feel more comfortable in my skin, I passively participated in the mocking and teasing of another. I have regretted it since the moment I did. I wasn’t like a “mean girl” or at least I tried not to be one. I fought peer pressure everyday and resisted being like everyone else because I didn’t see the fun in it. But on this one day, I passively participated because I did not stop it or even try to stop it. This poor kid had been treated like I had when I was younger, but for him it continued all the way through high school. He hadn’t toughened up his skin, he hadn’t made it so the game was played on his terms, and he still was getting teased, mocked, probably in more ways than I ever want to know.

Now being a mother I worry that my little ones could be in his situation one day. They march to their own drummers, again, not as flamboyantly as Freddie, but we’re still on a budget. My oldest feels more comfortable walking into school as a dinosaur and relates more comfortably with teens and adults than children his own age (his sense of humor is more dry, British and the other second graders tend not to get it). In his kindergarten picture, my macabre youngest looks like Jack Nicholson from The Shining and he has a deep passion for germs and creatures (as in from the Black Lagoon and “Frankenstein’s…”). My prayer is they do keep marching to their own drummer, but also learn how to play the game by their own rules of engagement so they don’t get hurt.

Freddie and Queen helped me through so much as I’m sure they did for many people. They helped me learn to “Play the Game” so we’d have to sing that one too. I think I would be in awe too much to sing “Bohemian” with him, but I’d definitely do the air guitar and head-banging. “I’m Going Slightly Mad” would be sung perhaps while sipping a drink. Then as dessert was placed on the table we could just scat a bit.

A confession would come out about how I helped that boy get mocked, teased, butchered by boys far less mature than him. An apology for going against an unspoken code of sticking together. I’ve tried to locate that guy. Contrary to popular belief you can keep yourself off the internet if you choose to because I can’t find a trace of him. Freddie would get the apology. For not being bold enough to say stop. For not being brave enough to go against the popular mob mentality. For forgetting my roots. The other way to apologize to someone I cannot find is how I am raising my sons. Many of the lessons I teach them have (and will) come from my mistakes. I know they will have to make their own mistakes to truly learn some of the lessons, but I’ll try to head some of them off at the pass.

“I Want to Break Free” of these sad, regretful emotions, but I don’t  want to lose the lessons they taught me. I’d like to not feel like a nine-year old girl with buck teeth, glasses and a cow-lick that makes all the “in” hair-styles impossible to achieve. I suppose we’re all walking around feeling like our nine-year-old selves. The world could be friendlier if we all remembered that feeling and that we’re all simply doing the best we can. That is a tall order. I stumble with it everyday.

After dessert Freddie and I would sing a rousing rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and probably call it a day. When I got home from lunch, I’d give my two little guys great big hugs.

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