Read all 6 events for 17 January at diary.QueenSongs.info
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Keys: Db-major, Eb-minor (transposed up by a half-step for the analysis)
| Verse' | Verse |
| X | Chorus II-I-II | Verse |
| X | Bridge |
| Chorus (I-II) | Solo (Chorus) | Chorus' - Tag-Outro |
X: pre-Chorus and pre-Bridge
This is one of Freddie's earliest songs with probably the most mysterious lyrics he ever created. The song form is quite irregular but not quite acyclic, we have three Verses, a Bridge, and four Choruses (one of which is instrumental), but still it's highly creative. Unusual factors are the alternate Verse, a short section (X) which first acts as a pre-Chorus, then as a pre-Bridge; later Choruses omit it. The first Chorus is strangely preceded by its own second half. Of course, such clever details are not only tokens of talent, but of a conscious willingness. Freddie Mercury has definitely had this kind of willingness even in this early period.
The arrangement is dominated by acoustic guitar, suggesting that the song was composed on guitar.
We have bass, electric guitars (only in the Solo sections), three-part vocal harmonies, and unusual-to-Queen overdubbed bongos (and even cowbells) in the rhythm section.
The guitars are tuned down by one half-step or varyspeed is applied.
The first Verse is not like the other two with its different phrasing, eith much more offbeat accents, more spare arrangement, and some different chords. The first two-three and the last four-six measures are mostly the same as in the other two verses. The accompaniment consists of two acoustic guitars (the second guitar joins only in measure four), drums play only short figures at the beginning of measures 4-6. There is no bass yet. The phrasing of the eleven-measure section is 6+5.5, the sung phrases are 2-3 measures shorter.
| D | Dmaj7 | Am7 * | Em C| Em D| Em | * : A-E-F#
| I | - | v | ii bVII| ii I| ii |
e: iv | i VI| i VII| i |
| Em C | Am | G | A | D(sus4) | D |
| i VI| iv | III...
D: IV | V | I | - |
The harmony is interesting. It opens (and closes) on the tonic, then the exotic v (Am) chord in measure 3 starts to carry the harmony toward the neighbor key: e-minor. This new tonic (Em) dominates measures 4-6 while the F#m7, C, D chords pass away quickly. Note the absence of the dominant chord (b/B). From measure 9 the D-major key recovers with a strong IV > V > I cadence. The harmonic rhythm is slower at both ends of the section.
Two syncopated and off-beat rhythm patterns:
1 2 3 4
** * : acoustic guitar in measures 1-2 (except in the last Verse)
1 2 3 4 1 2 1
ee e C a a G : acoustic guitar chords
** * * * **___... : lead vocal in measures 7-8
Note the off-balance effect of the lead vocal stepping on B one quarter before the inner line of the Am > G chord progression does.
Second and third Verses are ten (6+4) measures long; bass and drums enter on the downbeat of the third measure. You can hear some effects in the lead vocal here and there (double-tracked, stereo-floated). At the downbeat of measure 9 drums, bass, and lead vocals stop and the guitar alone closes the section.
| D | Dmaj7 | Em | - |
| I | - | ii
e:| i | - |
| Em | C Am | G | A | D(Sus4)|D (sus2)|
| i | VI iv | III
D: | IV | V | I | - |
This four-measure mini-section is very similar to the first phrase of the verse.
| D | Dmaj7 | Am | - |
| I | - | v | - |
(one of the guitars also plays a D during the Am chord)
Drums again pause on the downbeat of measure 3. The harmonic rhythm and the lead vocal "slow down", while the bass executes a triadic ascent using the familiar 3+3+3+3+2+2 rhythmic pattern in contrast with the other syncopated rhythms played by Roger on low toms.
In the reprise of this section the guitars are strummed faster, and the section is not followed by a Chorus but by a Bridge.
Beside the cliche progression of the first phrase, the full ensemble helps to give the chorus some feeling: drums, bass, acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies, double-tracked lead vocal. The Chorus itself goes like this (note the first Chorus is preceded by its second half (m.7-10)) :
| A1 | B1 | B1 | C#1 |: lead guitar in the second chorus
| D | Bm | Em | A |
| I | vi | ii | V |
l.gtr.in 2nd Ch.:| D1 | C1 |
vocal harmony :| G (IV) | Em (ii)|
guitar chords :| Asus4 | Am |
lead vocal:| B A F# E | EDDD...| F# E D B|A |
bass:| G F# E A | BBAB | D C B G|A |
harmony:| G... A | Bm | D..... | A | A |
| | vi | I... | V | - |
The harmonies in measures 5-6 are ambiguous. The guitar chords in ((5 and)) 7 and 9 cannot be identified well; I'm going to treat these as being counterpoint-driven (between vocals and bass). Note the varying intervals. The second Chorus is gets an additional guitar counterpart. Second lead guitar joins in toward the end of the section. Two lead guitars play "solo" in the first half of the next ( the third) Chorus, first unisono and later in something like harmony.
Note the additional percussion (tablas?) holding a two-measure pause at the end of the section. The lead vocal returns for the second half of the third Chorus. The fourth Chorus closes on the tonic, and gets a Tag-like extension filled partly with repeated phrases and a two-part non-harmonic lead guitar solo. The framework of this tag-section consists of one measure ostinato bass figure over the tonic chord. The bass ostinato is repeated 17 times after the Chorus' normal length, and stops on the downbeat of the 18th repetition. Note that the figure shifts one octave higher for a while.
It's square - eight measures long (2+2+4); harmonic-wise it's open at both ends.
/------- 2x ------\\
| G (/F#) | Em |
| IV | ii |
| G (F#) | Em | A | - |
| IV | ii | V | - |
The lead vocal is heavily reverbed, and the third phrase adds vocal harmony. The last two measures add a four-in-the-bar drum pattern, the upbeat of the next Chorus, and the lead guitar that fades in.