As this is slightly different to my previous challenge weeks, I thought that regular diary updates would be the best plan – so you can see how I’m keeping it Queen on a daily basis! Throughout the week I’ll be visiting as many key London locations from the band’s history, plus I’ll be sure to link to any blogs and social media posts from that day (if you’re on Instagram, remember to keep an eye on my stories) so you don’t miss a single thing.
Something else I’d like to flag up is that it’s World AIDS Day on Sunday 1 December. I’ll be rocking my red ribbon all week (I’ve actually been wearing it all month!) and I hope you will join me in this – so if you enjoy my posts from Queen week, please make a donation or buy a ribbon/badge from their online shop to contribute to the great work that’s being done to find more effective treatments for the disease across the world. You can also head to the Mercury Phoenix Trust website to donate or buy items from their shop.
Sunday 24 November 2019
When I started thinking about doing this week, these particular dates were the only ones left in 2019 that had a completely blank canvas – and that couldn’t have worked more perfectly for the whole Queen theme. In an ideal world I wouldn’t be heading out and about on a Sunday (especially after being out for some time on Saturday as well), and when the weather looked a bit grim I did almost chicken out entirely, but I’m glad that I stuck to the plan. What made it slightly more challenging for me was that I needed to keep to zone 3 to avoid paying a fortune on my transport… So it ended up taking around two hours to get from south east to south west London! (Bus-Tube-Tube-Bus-Bus: all connections relatively smooth.)
My main aim was to go and see the blue plaque on Freddie’s childhood home in Feltham; I didn’t actually realise until last year that it had been installed, so this was pretty much the first opportunity I’ve had to visit! I can’t help but wish that it was possible to turn it into a bit of a Queen museum (Brian grew up a few streets away), like the Lennon & McCartney childhood homes in Liverpool – partly because I feel for people living in a house that will regularly have people stopping outside to take photos, but also because they’re a band with a great history (particularly in London) that deserve to be celebrated.
While I was in Feltham I made the trek over to the high street to find the memorial – I hadn’t realised that a) the road & path I needed had been completely dug up, and b) the original memorial was scrapped a few years ago and a smaller one put up in its place… But it was worth those extra 3,000 or so steps while I was in the area. Though it was dark by that point, I had one last stop for the day: Garden Lodge. There were a few people there when I arrived, as expected; again, it was a bit strange standing out there (as the house is still lived in) but it was the perfect opportunity to think of what happened 28 years ago today.
I had probably heard some Queen songs by that time in my life, but there was no way of me being aware of them as an entity – let alone know that their singer had just died. It took quite a few years for me to find that out, from reading the Guinness Book of the 20th Century (I think, anyway!), so I’m glad that I can now rectify my years of ignorance and remember Freddie in as many ways as possible. Soundtracking my day with Never Boring, Queen and Innuendo tied in with this at what felt like ‘relevant’ locations, and allowed me to celebrate the band’s work on my pilgrimage.
Every other day this week there will be a post during the day, but as I ended up being out for so long this hasn’t transpired today… (Plus my laptop is so slow & awful that it’s taken hours just to get this single post out.) Hopefully the rest of the week will make up for this!
On this day in Queen history: Freddie Mercury dies from bronchial pneumonia (resulting from AIDS), 1991
Track of the day: These Are The Days of Our Lives
Monday 25 November 2019
First workday of the challenge week, so the balancing act properly begins… I have the whole Queen collection on my mp3 player, so thought Monday’s commute should just dive right in and shuffle through them all! It started out as the Mondayest Monday ever (it never rains but it pours), threatening my motivation completely – but I at least managed to kickstart the day with a bit of #MayMonday over on Twitter.
I also had a moment to get to work on some of this week’s posts, starting by sharing my thoughts on 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack in the first of this week’s “I Can Hear Music” posts on records celebrating significant anniversaries in 2019. I’d forgotten how much I love that album! 70s Queen is definitely my current favourite – when I was younger their 80s material grabbed me, but that’s possibly because they really went for it on the video side of things by then, and I was fixated on their ‘Greatest Flix’ collections.
Initially I hadn’t planned on having anything non-Queen going on during the week, but then some things cropped up… And first up was a gala performance of White Christmas – but, fittingly, this was at the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Road. Freddie performed in Time there back in 1988, and it was obviously the 12-year home of We Will Rock You; there’s even the Freddie Mercury Suite available inside. Not a bad way to spend the evening!
On this day in Queen history: Another One Bites The Dust is certified platinum in the US, 1980
Track of the day: Put Out The Fire
Tuesday 26 November 2019
Well, yesterday didn’t quite go according to plan… Nothing scheduled for the evening, so I was intending on heading out around west London to find some more Queen locations – but then realised the sky wasn’t just dark because it was near the end of the day, and didn’t manage to make it home without getting an absolute drenching (oh well, Rain Must Fall)!
At least once I’d dried myself off I could get round to sharing my next “I Can Hear Music” post – this time marking 35 years of The Works, coincidentally shared on the 35th anniversary of the release of standalone Christmas single Thank God It’s Christmas.
Earlier in the day I celebrated #TaylorTuesday, as my favourite member of the band couldn’t be overlooked this week! I’m still getting to grips with my new mp3 player and working out how to create playlists on it (it doesn’t seem to be as simple as my old one, where you could copy a playlist directly onto the player), otherwise I’d have themed my listening more for Monday & Tuesday… This, however, has given me the idea of creating a Spotify playlist comprising key songs from the week. It’s looking pretty good already, but keep checking back as I’ll be adding to it as time goes on.
On this day in Queen history: A reception to promote A Day At The Races was held at Advision Studios, 1976
Track of the day: Spread Your Wings
Wednesday 27 November 2019
Perhaps November wasn’t the best time to do this week after all! The rather damp conditions continue… If I was really hardy then it wouldn’t matter, I guess, but only Sunday’s was important enough to justify committing to exploring. But hey, I’m in London (the place most closely connected to all of the band, and where it all began), and I work for Imperial College – Brian’s university, and where they made their first public appearance as Queen – so that’s something to cling onto.
Over on Twitter there was a bit of #WednesdayWisdom going on, which was a good excuse to delve into the wealth of song lyrics for inspiration – and read up on some outrageous Freddie quotes! One that I didn’t share, but feels increasingly relevant, is Hammer to Fall; Brian has said that it’s about life & death, but the great thing about art is
that you can interpret it in different ways and apply it to your own situation – and lyrics like “Convinced our voices can’t be heard, we just wanna scream it louder and louder and louder…” and “What the hell are we fighting for? Ah, just surrender and it won’t hurt at all” just shout out to me at the moment.
I did at least have a couple of incredibly tenuous links to Queen for my evening activity: An Audience with Taron Egerton at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly. The dodgy links are Bohemian Rhapsody winning at the BAFTAs earlier this year, and in Rocketman Egerton plays Elton John, who of course was a great friend of Freddie’s for many years. Yes, I know. But I was so lucky in finding out about this event (I did a rare glance at my Twitter homepage almost the second it was posted), so I couldn’t pass it up.
And I did at least manage to conclude my “I Can Hear Music” series with a post on The Miracle, shared on the 30th anniversary of the release of the title track – now that was planned.
On this day in Queen history: The Crazy Tour continues at Apollo Theatre in Manchester, 1979
Track of the day: Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)
Thursday 28 November 2019
For some reason I decided I needed to do some album listen-throughs on my commutes today – I started a bit out there with Hot Space (which I actually think is rather underrated), before heading back to Jazz for a bit, and then News of the World took over later on in the day. Other than a little bit of a blip post-Taron talk where I predictably relapsed into the Rocketman soundtrack, it’s been really nice to get such a range of Queen tracks in my ears all week.
I did a bit of a #ThrowbackThursday during the day, looking at a couple of the band’s live performances from way back when; unfortunately I don’t have any of my own to look back on yet (aside from the tribute act Magic: A Kind of Queen), so we’ll have to wait until June 2020 for any personal contributions…
My main thing for the day was looking back through Queen’s quite incredible videography – yes, some of them are a bit dated and very much rooted in their time (Brian May on a skateboard shooting lasers out of his guitar in The Invisible Man springs to mind), but there is an exceptional body of work there. To think that they gave that medium the boost it needed to become ubiquitous in the music world is quite a thought.
In the evening I was at something completely unrelated (even I can’t forge a tenuous link to A Christmas Carol, whether a sober or drunk version), but I did have time afterwards to stop by a location that should look familiar from the A Kind of Magic music video! It’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing. Especially as it took me until last Christmas to realise that I’d technically sat on the set of a Queen video – sort of!
On this day in Queen history: Gold & platinum awards for Jazz USA sales
Track of the day: If You Can’t Beat Them
Friday 29 November 2019
Talking of this week not going to plan – yesterday was an absolute case in point. And proof that the best laid plans can always be derailed when you least expect it! Thankfully for me (in the context of other things going on in London) it was simply a case of it being an incredibly stressful day, from work to transport to being kept awake by other people in the house running a loud midnight bath…
I did at least manage to do #FreddieFriday over on Twitter during the day; I was planning on doing a Freddie-related post to go along with it, but stress really stifles creativity. It will hopefully surface once I’m in a slightly more relaxed environment!
Listening through A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races and Queen II during the day definitely alleviated some of my irritation – when you look at the track listings, how could they not?
On this day in Queen history: Peter Jones Rostrums produce the ‘Dancers’ animations for the Innuendo video, 1990
Track of the day: White Queen (As It Began)
Saturday 30 November 2019
The moment I’ve been waiting for: We Will Rock You Day! The tour was in Nottingham this week, so it was a nice cheapo National Express return for me – finally, two days this week where I don’t have 6am starts… Coincidentally, there’s a Queen link to Nottingham: Freddie’s sister Kashmira moved to the city, and following Freddie’s death her parents came up to join her. Getting out of London was exactly what I needed, and having a few hours set aside to read & listen to audiobooks really helped to soothe any residual nerves.
It was also supposed to be the day of the best/worst hashtag of the entire week: #SaturDeacy! However, due to travelling and then getting psyched up for the show, I may have forgotten to do it… I’ve made up for it now though! And as it was the last day of the week I was back to full Queen back catalogue shuffle – there are so many songs that I don’t think I’ve actually heard them all over seven days.
And I have nothing but good things to report from We Will Rock You. I’m not trying to make out that it’s perfect or anything, but it’s yet another case of critics insisting on going against Queen; as I noted in my #MissedTheBoat last year, Bat Out Of Hell was basically a rip-off of We Will Rock You with worse songs and even less of a story, yet that was given a ridiculous amount of 4- and 5-star reviews. With no real context, of course the show sounds like it’s up its own arse, but in actual fact it’s camp & ridiculous and really doesn’t take itself at all seriously – I bloody loved it. I’m working on a review, so stay tuned for that…
On this day in Queen history: Tim Staffell introduces one Freddie Bulsara to Brian May and Roger Taylor, 1968
Track of the day: It’s Late
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