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Brian May - Freddie and I

Novembre 2011
Una voce su tutte, quella del mito Freddie Mercury, e tantissime canzoni indimenticabili.  Nel quarantesimo anniversario dei Queen,  il chitarrista Brian May ricorda Freddie e spiega come mai l’America smise di amare la sua band.

di Marcel Anders

File audio:

Brian May
Brian May

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

November 24th marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury. He was, of course, the flamboyant lead singer of the group Queen, who also have an important anniversary: they were officially formed 40 years ago, in 1971. 
The band’s original line-up consisted of Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bass guitarist John Deacon. Deacon left the group shortly after Mercury’s death, but May and Taylor have continued playing with other musicians. Last year Queen even changed record labels, moving from EMI to Universal, and this year they re-released their first five albums. When Brian May met with the press to talk about the 40th anniversary, the conversation naturally turned to the young Freddie Mercury:

Brian May (Standard British accent)

He was a very shy boy, very shy, very insecure, I would say, you know, and came from a very strict public school upbringing, very kind of repressed, in a sense. And so his reaction to that was to go completely the other way, to be completely outrageous and build a character around himself, which he inhabited. And it came to its climax when he actually changed his name as well and became Freddie Mercury, instead of Bulsara. 
I regard Freddie as a completely self-made man. He had his vision, he had his dream, and he constructed everything about his life to make this dream happen. And we were part of this whole kind of journey!


Brian May was interviewed in the famous Trident Studios in London, where the band’s early albums were recorded. He was asked what the young Freddie Mercury had been like as a singer:

Brian May

He was very undisciplined when we met him as a performer. He would run around and scream and generally be quite shocking! But, as soon as he heard himself in the studio – and it’s quite interesting that we’re sitting here, because I remember sitting here and Freddie listening to himself back and being very critical and very unhappy about the way he sounded. And he worked and worked and worked – night and day – to fashion his voice and the way he controlled it, into the way he wanted it to be. 


In addition to his amazing ability as a singer, Mercury was also famous for his colourful lifestyle. He was a promiscuous bisexual and died of Aids-related complications at the age of 45. Queen were initially very successful in the United States, but later suffered a decline in popularity. Brian May was asked whether Queen’s explicit 1982 video “Body Language” had been a factor:

Brian May

Well, you know, the word G-A-Y was really very dodgy for a long time in the States. And in some ways it still is. 
You know, I mean, you look at these people who are trying to go back to the original constitution, the Tea Party people. You know, it’s all highly… what’s the word? Not just retro, but it’s very retrogressive thinking. And that element will always probably be alive in America. 


Here Brian May talks about Queen’s complicated relationship with America.

Brian May:

It’s a very, very long story. Because America is the place we grew up, we sort of owned America at a certain point. “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” were bigger hits there than they were in Europe, and “Another One Bites The Dust” was an enormous hit. And I think there was a moment where we were not only the biggest group in America, but probably the biggest group in the world. But I think two things contributed to us losing America.


One of them was the video for “I Want To Break Free,” which was regarded as something completely outrageous. Rock stars just don’t dress up in women’s clothes. In England people got the joke, because we were spoofing (the cult British TV series) Coronation Street: they didn’t understand that in America! 


The second thing happened when the record companies were investigated by government department about bribery. And our record company, Capitol Records, refused to pay anybody to promote anything. And so nothing got promoted. I remember the moment. The song “Radio Gaga” went from about 60 to 30 in the charts. And the next week it disappeared: nobody would play Queen records any more! 

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They re-released their first five albums. Il prefisso re- è generalmente usato con parole di origine latina e può avere significati ben distinti. Per indicare ripetizione può essere tradotto con di nuovo, nuovamente o con il prefisso ri-: Hanno lanciato di nuovo, o rilanciato i loro primi cinque album. Può essere anche usato per indicare un movimento contrario, all’indietro: They reverted to their original style, sono tornati al loro stile originario. 

His reaction to that was to go completely the other way. To go the other way, letteralmente andare nella direzione opposta, in senso figurato vuol dire fare l’esatto contrario. La sua reazione alla rigida educazione fu di comportarsi in modo esattamente contrario. 

Brian May was interviewed in the famous Trident Studios in London. Il passivo. Usiamo la forma passiva quando siamo più interessati all’azione e al suo soggetto piuttosto che a chi l’ha compiuta. Dal contesto è chiaro che è un giornalista ad intervistare Brian May ed è dunque superfluo specificarlo. 

Dodgy. Espressione colloquiale, generalmente usata in senso negativo, derogatorio per indicare una cosa dubbia e un po’ sospetta. 

The Tea Party people. Il Tea Party è un movimento politico americano populista e conservatore, l’ala estrema del partito repubblicano.