Spread Your Wings

Album: News Of The World (1977), 5th track
Single: February, 1978
Meter: 4/4
Key: D-major (with a touch of B-minor in the Bridge)

Intro | Verse | Chorus | Bridge - Solo1 |
      | Verse | Chorus | Outro (Solo2)  |

"News Of The World" was the first album featuring two songs by John. Musically, this one seems to be a "standard" rock ballad, spiced up with some non-standard chord functions. Both Verse and Chorus sections are remarkably long and built out of two subsections. The sections build up two long cycles similarly to the form of "You're My Best Friend". The song does not contain any backing vocals, only some slowly moving three-part guitar harmonies. The latter are closer to simply splitting the "strummed" chords into single notes. The individual guitar-harmony parts often pick up the built-in chromatic motions of the actual chord progressions.


It's a very simple piano figure exposing the tonic chord.

| D5    | -     |
D: I

The first of the two subsections is square, eight measures long and has AA phrasing. The first Verse starts without electric guitar and bass, only piano, fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and hi-hats.

| D     | E9    | G  Gm | D     |
| I     | V/V   | IV iv | I     |

Tonic opens and closes the subsection, so this is a closed harmonic shape. Gm is a leader chord for D. The cross-relation B > Bb > A is "amplified" with acoustic guitar, and the lead vocal also uses the flat-6th degree (Bb). Examples for Queen songs with IV-iv (parallel) chord progression: You're My Best Friend (F), Save Me (G), Play The Game (F). Note that the parallel minor in these examples is often completed with the 6th degree.
The second subsection is nine measures long. Enter the rest of the drum kit, bass, and rhythm guitars (double-tracked). In the second Verse only the rhythm guitars' entrance is held back until this subsection.

| Bm  /A| Bm/G# | G  A  | D    |
| vi    | -     | IV V  | I    |

| Em(7) | C7    | D Em  | Gm   | D    |
| ii    | bVII  | I ii  | iv   | I    |

The Bm/G# is also known as half-diminished G#, and curiously can be found in "Who Needs You", too. That jazzy C7 is functionally close to Gm(6) (iv), and its 7th creates the same correlation with the next D chord as we saw before with Gm > D. Note how Roger uses asymmetric drum lines (emphasis on the 4th 1/8 beat) in the uneven measures. The second verse features some three-part guitar harmonies. The first one is a hocket: a single melody shared between the three tracks. The special effect is formed by the sustained last notes building up a D(6/3) chord.

The first subsection has an AA' (2x4 measures) form, and a cliche chord progression (see also "Love Of My Life"). The guitars introduce each chord with short figures.

| D   | Bm    | E(m)7 | A    |
| I   | vi    |V/V(ii)| V    |

the second subsection:

gtrs: | Gm  | D    |"Gm6" | D    |
bass: | D   | E    | D    | D    |
      |iv6/4| I6/4 |iv6/4 | I    |

Note how the bass puts the chords into their second (6/4) inversion. The guitar in the third measure omits the root of the Gm6, but still sounds much as a regular Gm6 (in its second inversion). The piano, however, does play the G but cannot be heard well until the second chorus at 3:20. In the BBC take of this song the piano track and the G-note in question are much more audible, though. The chorus closes with two extra measures, providing a kind of "thinking time" for the listener. The "bass" line walks through borrowed (from minor mode) notes: b6th > b7th > 1st. In the last measure the piano plays the reversed intro pattern.

| Gm/Bb Gm/C | D     |
| iv6/4      | I     |

The second chorus starts with an upbeat "so honey...". The second "A" phrase adds lead guitar behind the lead vocal.

This section begins with an upbeat and has a square 2x4 measure AA' form. The arrangement is completed with slowly moving three-part guitar harmonies. The melody of the first two measures is a variation of the beginning of the third phrase of the verse. This part has a strong B-minor feel.

gtrs: | Bm  /A |B5/G#     | A     | F#sus4 F |
D:    | vi     |vii-of-V  | V     | V-of-vi  |
B:    | i      |vii-of-VII| VII   |  V       |


| G  A  | D  Gm/D | G#dim/D  E7   | A     |
| IV V  | I   iv  |vii-of-V V-of-V| V     |

The D > Gm > G#dim sequence is created by two parallel-moving chromatic lines with a sustained D; the guitar harmony also shows this approach. Note that the solo guitar doesn't pick up the leader note (Bb) of the Gm but plays arpeggio-like all the notes of the E7 chord and arrives on the 3rd degree of the A. This section is closed by a let-ring-throughout measure like the chorus. The A chord (V) is waiting to be resolved to D. That is called open ending.

Except the upbeat ("come on honey") and a short phrase ("fly with me"), the outro is instrumental. The chord progression is the cliche taken from the chorus' first half. This song provides the rare example in the Queen-canon where a cliche progression is repeated many times in a row. Fade-out starts at the fourth repetition, and the song ends in the middle of the sixth. The long guitar solo with many let-ring notes is pretty unusual for Brian; actually this is his only guitar solo in this playing style. The rhythm guitars do chromatic runs before most of the D-chords.
The BBC version features longer guitar solo and a use a double time feel in the outro until the very last measures. The rhythm and the style of the piano part subtly foreshadow "Don't Stop Me Now" (1978). The video shows John playing the piano (until the bass enters). The CD-booklet does not credit him for playing the piano, though, so it must be Freddie.