Sunday, October 09, 2016

Q Is For . .

26 artists, A to Z. Not a lot of contenders for Q, but oh Lord, these guys command the field.

Queen / "Don't Stop Me Now"

Fun on sooooo many levels. 

Released in 1978 on the album Jazz, then as a single in 1979 (it climbed to #9 in the UK, nowhere near that in the US), "Don't Stop Me Now"" is a joyful statement of pansexual hedonism. Even today, it sounds a little naughty, but in 1979 it was downright wild.  

At the outset, he announces his intentions in a stately waltz-like intro -- "Tonight I'm gonna have myself a good time / I feel ali-i--i-ve." (Dig the whiff of orgy already in the panting "i-i's"of  "alive").  He's already "floating around in ecstasy." But after the chorus chimes in "Don't / stop / me / now" -- every warning syllable taut as a whip lash --  the song suddenly takes off like a firecracker. He's a "shooting star, " a "tiger defying the laws of gravity," a "racing car passing by like Lady Godiva." The copy editor in me wants to quibble -- how can a car be like Lady Godiva? -- but I'm content if Freddy Mercury just wanted to name-check Lady Godiva, with his own special vocal frisson of affection.

Guitarist Brian May may have been (and still is) a serious astrophysicist, but Freddy Mercury's line of star lore is all sexy metaphor: "I'm burnin' through the sky, yeah / Two hundred degrees / That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit [now there's a memorable moniker] / Travelin' at the speed of light / I'm gonna make a supersonic woman of you." Although by the later verses, it has mysteriously morphed into "a supersonic man out of you." (What?  Who? You thought we wouldn't notice you slipping that in in there, would you, Freddy?)

About 2 minutes in, the mood abruptly shifts (this is, after all, a Queen song, full of the cabaret flourishes that were their trademark). The roller-coaster melody dives sharply into a tic-like two-note bridge, underlaid only with spanking drums. While the back-up singers obsessively repeat "Don't stop me / don't stop me" over and over, Freddy exultingly cries "all right" and "I like it," followed by one of the most onanistic guitar solos ever. How many teenage boys have jacked off to this song over the years, I wonder?

He's a rocket ship, an atom bomb, a sex machine. He's wild, he's out of control, and -- most important of all - he's having a VERY GOOD TIME. The tempo is hyper-accelerated, the guitars are crunching and wailing, and the riffs are all mascaraed eyes and drag-queen dramatics. For 3 minutes and 30 seconds, this track takes us on a fun-house ride we won't soon forget.


Just as a footnote, here's a lip synch battle from the Jimmy Fallon Tonight show, in which the ever-delightful Paul Rudd does a rendition of this song that has blazed into my consciousness. You may have to fast-forward to get to the meat of this clip. (Jump to 4:25.) All I can say is that it will be worth it.

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