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Sebastian: Songwriters Article - New Version11 Jan 2004 18:13

here it is, tell me what do you think:

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While working in the new album around 1988, the Queen members decided they should share all the credits of the songs, that way they wouldn’t fight over royalties and choices for single releases. The way how they worked in the arrangement turned a little more collaborative than before, but still somebody was the (main) author.

This document attempts to picture what would be the credit of each track if they hadn’t made that decision, and also there are included a couple of songs before the Miracle album in which they were all credited. Please note that I’m not dismissing the role of Queen as a “team” but still there is somebody responsible for the pieces. In most cases one person wrote the song and the remaining members (with the producer) changed some parts, added ideas and in general terms re-arranged the track.

Queen Credit Before 1988:

Something important is to clear the fake legend that the band credited the songs only to the lyricist. That gossip was born due to misinterpretations of what Brian commented in the ‘As It Began’ book. He mentioned that Liar was a song based in a piece of Wreckage called Lover. They kept one of the main riffs and changed the rest of the track, using Fred’s lyrics, some riffs from Brian… but eventually everyone in the band contributed. They discussed if the track had to be credited to everyone in those cases, and, according to what Brian mentioned, Freddie “imposed” the rule that the person who came up with the lyrics came up with the song.

If they had actually followed that law, then Is This The World We Created would be credited to Freddie, as well as Cool Cat, and One Vision would have Roger Taylor’s last name instead of the word ‘Queen’.

That “lyricist = writer” rule was applied in the cases like Liar, that everyone contributed but one person had the main input. It’s known also that Freddie participated overly in both lyrics and music of Radio Ga Ga, but still the track was credited to Roger, because the chords and general ideas were from him.

It’s important to differ between the arranger and the writer of a song. Brian tended to give “free hand” to John and Roger to create their own parts, based in his general instructions. John wrote most bass-lines in Brian’s songs, but the credit still went to May because the melodies John came up with were based in Brian’s chord progression.

Ethics played an important role too. Freddie took over Roger’s and John’s songs and changed them, sometimes radically, without asking for a credit there. While A Kind Of Magic only mentions Roger as songwriter (though Freddie virtually locked himself with the song and re-formed it), John asked that Pain Is So Close To Pleasure should be credited to both of them, not only Deacon, because Freddie’s contribution must be recognised and acknowledged.

Those double credit songs deserve a separate chapter. It seems that in most cases there’s only one (main) creator and the other person helped to polish the ideas. David Richards always has referred to Mother Love (May/Mercury) as a song by Brian. Freddie said Cool Cat (Deacon/Mercury) was “his” track, and Brian credited Thank God It’s Christmas (May/Taylor) to Roger. Peter Freestone – Freddie’s personal assistant – said both Pain Is So Close To Pleasure and Friends Will Be Friends are John, while Brian said ‘Friends’ is Freddie’s.

Musical Analysis:

Each person has its own way of working, and Queen were four musicians with personal forms of writing the songs. It is difficult of course, but it isn’t impossible either.

Something very important to clarify first is that a proper analysis can’t draw deep conclusions out of simple arguments. All possibilities have to be taken in account and they’ve got to be analysed from different points of view. What makes a song John-esque, Brian-esque, Freddie-esque or Roger-esque is a combination of many, many small differences, not just one or two big ones.

For example Brian was the guitarist, but that doesn’t mean a song with many guitars (e.g. Headlong) was written by him. Consider all of them wrote guitar songs (Modern Times Rock N’ Roll, If You Can’t Beat Them, Ogre Battle), and consider another possibility: what if for example Freddie wrote the song in piano and then Brian arranged the guitar version? Still the song would be Freddie’s.

In a similar way a song with much bass isn’t necessarily from John, it is very possibly arranged by him but not written. Roger, Brian and John rarely wrote songs with more than one flat note, but if a track is in Eb key that’s not a 100% proof that it’s Freddie’s: it could be that one of the others wrote it in E major and tuned down the guitars one half step.

Some more band’s traditions are that if keyboards are not played by Freddie, they’re played by the song creator. Brian played synth in Hang On In There’s intro, but there’s a possibility: Somebody else wrote the song, and Brian added the intro. Another very common is that if lead vocals are not taken by Fred, it’s by the songwriter. But still Roger sang in Doin’ All Right and some parts of The March Of The Black Queen, Father To Son and even Keep Yourself Alive, and didn’t write any of those.

Harmonies are something else, usually they’re expected to be sung by the creator of the song. But the truth is that the person who came up with the idea of those harmonies is the one who decides who sings them (in Queen that person mostly chose just himself). Brian for example sang all harmonies in Hitman, but we can’t conclude it’s his song just because of that. The song can be someone else’s but Brian had the idea of adding those harmonies, or his voice sounded better than the other’s for that specific part. He also sang a one minute demo of that track, but it still “suggests”, but doesn’t “prove”. He could have sung the demo because Fred was unable to do it at the time, or just for fun, or to test his ability as metal singer, or because he wrote it, but that’s just one of the possibilities.

Again it’s important to distinguish the song writing process to the arrangement process. The chord progressions of the song are part of the song writing, the lead guitar melodies and the order of sections are part of the arrangements. In 90% of cases, if the song was arranged by John, for instance, it’s because he wrote it, but there still can be exceptions. That goes also for Brian. The main song writing trademarks from the band members are:

Brian:

§ Pedal Bass: That’s something almost entirely May-esque (Doin’ All Right, Hammer To Fall, Las Palabras De Amor, Flash, Keep Yourself Alive, Fat Bottomed Girls, The Prophet’s Song, Teo Torriate, …). Still there are exceptions. Freddie used it in The March Of The Black Queen and My Fairy King, and even John did for minimal extent (In Only Seven Days). Anyway, considering Fred only “flirted” with that feature in the very early days, it’s almost a concrete evidence that, in the post Works era, a song with pedal bass is Brian’s. Definitely not Roger’s.

§ Chord progression with ascending chromatic inner line: Leaving Home Ain’t Easy, The Prophet’s Song, Tie Your Mother Down, Now I’m Here, Flash, Brighton Rock, Sail Away Sweet Sister… A notable exception is the ending of Bohemian Rhapsody’s rock section, which was entirely created by Freddie. Also a part of Bring Back That Leroy Brown and the intro of In The Lap Of The Gods.

§ Intro taken combining the first four and last two measures of the verse: Teo Torriate, Prophet’s Song, ’39.

§ Parallel Key Modulation: Teo Torriate

John:

§ Latin, Funk or Reggae influences: Who Needs You, Cool Cat, Another One Bites The Dust, Back Chat… The other three weren’t fond of that kinds of genres.

§ Asymmetric 3+3+2 beat: Cool Cat, In Only Seven Days, Who Needs You

Freddie:

§ Descending chromatic line cliché: Death On Two Legs, The March Of The Black Queen, Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon, Killer Queen, Bicycle Race, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Lily Of The Valley, The March Of The Black Queen…

§ I > V > vi progression with step-wise descending bass: We Are The Champions, It’s A Hard Life, Bohemian Rhapsody, Friends Will Be Friends, Life Is Real, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke… There are two cases in which Brian practiced it a little bit: Save Me and Dear Friends.

§ Acyclic Song forms: My Fairy King, Liar, The March Of The Black Queen, The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, Bohemian Rhapsody, Princes Of The Universe. It’s almost a definitive proof, since all the acyclic songs in the Queen song-book are written by Freddie

§ All in all, there are some very complex achievements in the band that only Freddie could have enabled. Even though the other three (mostly Brian) arranged some short counterpoints and harmonies (both vocal or instrumental) beyond three-parts, the use of extended and complicated tempo, meter and key changes, chains of different sections and orchestral interludes were beyond Roger’s, John’s and Brian’s abilities, not only for knowledge and expertise, but also for practice. Examples: Bicycle Race, Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, The March Of The Black Queen, and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody

Roger:

§ One Bridge-Model: Modern Times Rock N’ Roll, Loser In The End, I’m In Love With My Car, Tenement Funster, Drowse… Counterexamples: Life Is Real, Lily Of The Valley, I Want To Break Free

§ Alternate Verses: Fun It, More Of That Jazz, Drowse, Tenement Funster… Counterexamples: One Year Of Love, I Want To Break Free

§ Lack of Modulation: I’m In Love With My Car, The Loser In The End… Counterexamples: songs without modulation written by someone else (Friends Will Be Friends, In Only Seven Days), and Roger’s tracks with modulation (Modern Times Rock N’ Roll).

For a “conclusive” answer we can’t just look for a personal trademark and then just take as fact that it’s his song, but possibilities grow if there are more than just one. Naming the previous cases, if a track has modulation it still can be Roger’s, but if the song has modulation, pedal bass, and inner line chromatic progression, and Brian sings all the harmonies, it’s very definitely from the curly one (at least musically).

 Collection Of Quotes:

For a more complete research it’s very useful to count with different quotes from the people who was there, because they can be certain about the origin of the tracks. In my opinion musical analysis is a stronger proof because if the song has acyclic form, it has it forever, but the comment from a person (even from a band member) can have some mistakes: he can be confusing the song with some other, or perhaps his memory tricked him in that moment…

Of course that’s different in each case. A quote from the same year the song was recorded should be taken as fact, but one from ten years later or more can be just considered “evidence”. That evidence becomes stronger if it matches other comments (later on we’ll see how Brian contradicted himself three times telling the Show Must Go On story).

David Richards’s quotes have a vital importance here. As the producer he probably had more idea of that than the band members themselves, because for example John wrote the songs in the piano, then did a demo in his house and brought it to Dave so they could polish it before Freddie came in and added vocals and keyboards. After that the song was officially presented to the rest of band. But note that in those cases David was the connection between John and the band, and he got to know the songs even before Freddie, Brian and Roger.

In a similar way all the songs written in the studio (which were a lot in those days) were written in his presence. And also, being there all the time, he could overhear when somebody came in and said “I just wrote a piece called…”.


All God’s People

The credit is Queen/Moran, and it was Fred who wrote songs with Mike. Moreover, the orchestral sections are something neither Brian, Roger or John could do, but probably they’re Mike’s instead of Freddie’s. The song sounds like the Barcelona project anyway.

Quotes match this time: Brian said in 1991 that it was the song in which he was less involved, it was just something Freddie had and eventually they all ended up playing on it. Three years later he said “All God’s People came from Freddie at the same time as the Barcelona project”. David Richards answered “Freddie and Mike Moran” in 2001.

- Conclusion: Freddie (and Mike Moran)


A Winter’s Tale

Typical Freddie-esque descending bass line cliché that can be found in almost all his songs. Besides that, Brian, David Richards (twice) and Jim Hutton all credited it to Freddie

- Conclusion: Freddie


Bijou

The orchestral section is clearly Freddie, note it has his descending bass trademark. Brian said he did write the guitar parts, with Jeff Beck in mind. David Richards commented in 2001 that the title came from Freddie, who played the string part in the synthesiser and then Brian came and did the guitar. It took about one hour in the whole writing, arranging and recording process.

- Conclusion: I’d give the credit to Freddie, because Brian wrote the guitar parts over the chord progression Freddie had played in the keyboards. Brian also wrote the guitar parts in most Roger’s songs, but they’re still Roger’s, aren’t they? And the lyrics of Bijou are Freddie’s too, so the song is 85-90% him.


Breakthru

It seems like the union of two different songs. The intro is completely Freddie-esque in the harmony style (double or triple tracked five-parts, something never used by the others), piano playing, the step-wise bass (reversed form of Freddie’s cliché). The rest of the song doesn’t have modulation, something a little more Roger-esque.

Freddie confirmed that theory in 1989, he said that the song Breakthru is basically Roger’s, and the intro is another song, written by Freddie. Brian and Roger himself supported that in 2003.

- Conclusion: The same David Richards said in 2001: “Freddie & Roger”


Chinese Torture

Brian already had the solo in 1986 when he played it in Madrid. The keyboard isn’t played by anyone actually, it was just programmed by all four in the computer.

- Conclusion: Brian, although Freddie produced the mix, but that’s different to the actual writing of the song.


Delilah

Again it’s pop in a way I doubt very much Brian or Roger would do. Still that’s not concrete evidence, you know. First verse ends with the typical Freddie descending bass line cliché, as well as the bridge.

Quotes help again: in 1991 Nuno said “Delilah is all Freddie”. Brian was with him and didn’t correct him, hence, it must be true. Same year in a radio interview a fan asked Brian if Fred wrote the song about his cat, and Brian answered “yes”. Ten years later David Richards said “Freddie”, and Jim Hutton (Freddie’s lover) said in his book that Fred wrote the song in Switzerland.

- Conclusion: Freddie


Don’t Try So Hard

The bass-line cliché at the end of the chorus is totally Freddie-esque. Just sit in a piano and play it and you’ll note it. The general structure only fits Brian though, specially the parallel keys (E major and E minor). The little orchestral mini-section before the solo is completely Mercury, as the oscillating harmonies (check You Take My Breath Away or The March Of The Black Queen). Keyboards are not Brian – at least the main ones -.

- Conclusion: David Richards said music is Freddie and Brian, and lyrics are Freddie, so it’s Freddie & Brian, just as the musical analysis said as well.


Hangman
(Never Credited To Anyone)

Very similar to a pre-Queen song by Freddie called Vagabond Outcast, this track is riff-driven and based in power chords, something that is a little more characteristic of Freddie’s guitar songs in 69-72 (e.g. Jesus), but it could also be a contribution from the others. In terms of arrangements, bass doubles rhythm guitar, something that also Brian (Son And Daughter) and Roger (Modern Times Rock N’ Roll) applied at the time

- Conclusion: Fortunately Peter Hince (band’s roadie and assistant for Freddie and John) remembered about this track and cleared the case: it was written by Freddie.


Hang On In There

Brian played keyboard in the intro, so it’s reasonable that he wrote it (the intro, not necessarily the full song). The little jam in the second half of the track is conducted by Freddie in the piano, something that suggests he was the main creator. There isn’t a very strong evidence, but in 2001 Dave Richards said it was Mercury’s.

- Conclusion: Freddie, although it wouldn’t hurt if we have more information about it someday.


Headlong & I Can’t Live With You

Brian played keyboards in both songs. That already points to him. The chord progressions are very May-esque, specially if you look at his solo album ‘Back To The Light’. Brian himself said he wrote both songs for that solo album but ended up giving them to the band. Case closed.

- Conclusion: Brian


Hijack My Heart

The chords are similar to what Roger used in Sheer Heart Attack, besides, lyrics are way closer to him – blonde girls and fast cars – and he sings it. But no quotes yet.

- Conclusion: Roger, hopefully we’ll find some quote to support it


Innuendo

It’s a combination of many different sections. The main section sounds Freddie-esque in the transposing of the riff/hook (check My Fairy King, Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, Bohemian Rhapsody). The orchestral section is definitely a no-one-but-Mercury thing. The flamenco solo was played and arranged by Steve Howe, later on Brian did it in electric guitar, adding arrangements of his own too, but, who wrote it?. It’s not very difficult to write, as it’s diatonic, it could be easily be written in piano (the main guitar plays only natural notes, i.e. the white keys of the keyboard), even by Roger or John. The descending chord progression (Am > G > F > E) is more characteristic of Brian or Freddie, but again it’s so simple that the others could have tried it out too. The difficulty of the flamenco solo is to play it, that’s why they asked Steve Howe to do it. But the writing is not that tricky.

Quotes come and go here too. The initial idea came from a jam session. Dave Richards said twice that Fred wasn’t present in the jam session, he just heard the rhythm and chords and went there and started to sing along. But who were jamming? Brian and Roger? Brian and John? Roger and John? Brian, Roger and John? No idea. Brian also said it started as a jam session but didn’t mention if it was all four, or three of them, or whatever.

What Brian did say (in a guitar magazine in October 1994) is that Freddie started off the lyrics and Roger did the rest of them, and that the middle section is Freddie. Roger in 2002 said the lyrics were mainly him. David Richards said in 2002 that The Miracle, Was It All Worth It and this one were mainly Freddie.

- Conclusion: Freddie (music) and Freddie & Roger (lyrics).


It’s A Beautiful Day

The piano has that typical descending bass at the end of the bridge. Completely Freddie-esque detail. Something also Freddie-esque is the song-form, acyclic. Only he did that. Moreover David Richards cleared that it’s Mercury’s in 2001.

- Conclusion: Freddie


I’m Going Slightly Mad

It’s kind of weird, musically. Just like The Miracle, there are many slash chords full of sharp notes (Ebm, Ebm/Gb, Ebm/Bb). It uses half-diminished chords as well. Even transposing it it’s still tricky and still has black notes all over the place. All of that points to Freddie of course.

About quotes, Jim Hutton (Freddie’s lover) said in his book that Freddie wrote it in London, with some lyrical help from Peter Straker (a friend of Freddie’s). Brian in 1994, David Richards in 2001 and Roger in 2002 also said the song is Freddie’s.

- Conclusion: Freddie


I Want It All

The chord progression is simple but we have some Brian-esque details: the complex guitar riff (hard to imagine as being written by a not-guitarist musician), the use of parallel keys (like in Teo Torriate) and the crescendo feel of the choruses and switch of singer in the bridge(Sail Away Sweet Sister). And who sings in the bridge? Brian!

Another clue is that May included the song in his ‘Another World Tour’ (although he also played Love Of My Life, which is Freddie’s). But the theory of being by Brian is reinforced by the producer’s comment in 2001, who credited it to the curly one.

- Conclusion: Brian. In fact in the Greatest Video Hits II DVD it’s credited just to him.


Let Me Live

Apparently there’s a book that includes the lyric manuscript, written by Roger. That still doesn’t clarify the music though. It’s a piano ballad, Freddie’s home style, and the song was born in a jam session with Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck in 1983. The piano is very definitely played by Freddie.

Music-wise, it doesn’t change key, which is closer to Roger’s style. Instead of descending bass line cliché we find an ascending one, but it’s still a Freddie-esque detail. The bVI > bVII > I cadence in the bridge is also a fingerprint from Mercury (Play The Game, Crazy Little Thing Called Love).

- Conclusion: It seems Roger & Freddie, but it’s still not confirmed.


Lost Opportunity

Three chord song, something almost entirely Brian-esque. Also Brian sings it.

- Conclusion: Brian, although it’d be nice to find a quote to confirm it


My Baby Does Me

It’s a pop song, pop in a not-Taylor and not-May sense, definitely. In the last interview to the band they were asked about it and Brian said “you have to look at that side of the table”, referring to John and Freddie. Then John said Fred wrote the bass-line, Fred said “no, it was you”, then John answered “no, it was you!” and then Fred said that basically the song was John and himself. Freddie wanted to put something light headed and listen-able to calm down the album, and that’s how they ended up writing it. David Richards said that Freddie wrote the lyrics and melody while John beat rhythm.

- Conclusion: I’d personally credit it to Freddie, because it seems like he did more for the song than John. But a Deacon/Mercury credit is right too.


My Life Has Been Saved

Very clever track. It’s a piano ballad, but not Brian-esque at all. The descending bass is practiced for minimal extent compared to most Freddie’s tracks, so it’s also unlikely him. The modulation type excludes Roger. Brian was asked in 2002 about the piano tuning and he said “you should ask John”. David Richards credited the song to John as well.

- Conclusion: John


One Vision

Brian played keyboards. That’s a serious clue about he as the main writer, at least musically. More Brian-esque details include the reprise of the intro as bridge, the ascending scale from A to E (e.g. Prophet’s Song, Now I’m Here), intro based on parallel sixth-motion (Hammer To Fall, Doin’ All Right) and the pedal bass (Las Palabras De Amor, Flash, Keep Yourself Alive, Fat Bottomed Girls, The Prophet’s Song, Teo Torriate).

Roger said once that he wrote the lyrics but Freddie changed a lot of them. In the Magic Years video you can see that John was absent in the moment (he was in the same room but in another corner), Brian was mostly looking and sporadically added ideas, but mostly it was Roger writing and Freddie approving or disapproving what he wrote.

- Conclusion: John got a credit for it although he didn’t have much input, as he admitted. Even though Freddie worked a lot in the arrangement I doubt it was more than what he did in for example Radio Ga Ga or A Kind Of Magic. So I’d credit it to Brian and Roger.


Party & Kashoggi’s Ship

Both songs are simple and don’t have anything specific from anyone in the band, but the connection and the way one is followed by the other in a similar structure suggests that, musically, they’re both written by the same person.

Roger was asked in 1989 (in the last interview done to the whole band at the same time) about the origin of Kashoggi’s, he said that it was mainly Freddie and Brian, then he corrected himself and said that he was there, but that Party  arose without him.

David Richards mentioned in 2001 that they were both from the same session in London, lyrically they all contributed, and that the first idea came from Freddie at the piano singing “ we have a good time ”

- Conclusion: The lyrics are apparently a band collaboration, it is unknown though if John was actually there or not like in One Vision, where the video proves he didn’t take part in the words. Musically it’s still unclear, yes, Freddie started off the theme, and it’s more possible that he kept leading the chords and stuff even if they all contributed ideas. Meanwhile I would “credit” the song to him but this couple of tracks are among the ones we less information have about.


Rain Must Fall

The Caribbean style is a direct clue to John. It’s very untypical for Queen, but untypical in a typical John way if you know what I mean. Roger said in 1989 that the guys made him take off a lot of additional percussion to make room for vocals and guitars, but he didn’t say at any moment that it was his track (as many, many people interpreted).

David Richards made the only comment about song-writing in 2001 “It’s John’s, but Freddie wrote the lyrics”.

- Conclusion: John & Freddie


Ride The Wild Wind

Musically it seems Roger, following his Machines – Don’t Lose Your Head chain. He sang it in his solo tours, besides, the song has no modulation and Roger co-sings the track with Freddie (and sings it all in the demo). All of that points to him, and David Richards confirmed it’s a Taylor track in 2001.

- Conclusion: Roger


Scandal

Brian played keyboards in this one, something that is a very serious clue to him. The key choice is more Brian-esque than Freddie-esque (G and F major). Brian and Roger were asked about the story behind the track in 1989, Roger turned to Brian and said “I think this is yours”. David Richards credited it to Brian in 2001, and May himself said in 2003 that it was written in the studio, particularly by Freddie and himself.

- Conclusion: Brian credited it to both Freddie and him, in the same way Freddie credited The Miracle to John and himself, but it was much more Freddie. I think it’s the same case here. Freddie perhaps helped in the arrangement of Scandal, much more than Roger or John, but the song is Brian’s.


Soul Brother

The chord progressions (e.g. bVI > b VIII > I) completely match Freddie in the Game era. It’s also his home style: piano ballad. It’s not something definitive but it’d be very surprising if it wasn’t his song.

- Conclusion: Brian closed the case in 2003 when he said Freddie wrote it.


Stealin’

The style is almost like a jam session but there are signs of planned song-writing on it. The chords aren’t so difficult, although not in Brian’s or John’s style at all. The only quote about it is from Mack, who said Freddie called him in 1987 and said he was working in that very track, and he owed the way he wrote and arranged it to the Game period in Munich.

- Conclusion: Freddie


Stone Cold Crazy

This one’s apparently a Wreckage track. The structure is so simple that anybody could have written it. Brian mentioned in 1986 that it came from all of them, but it’s doubtable considering the band performed it on stage before John joined.

- Conclusion: If it’s in fact a Wreckage track, then Freddie, but it isn’t a bottom-line yet.


These Are The Days Of Our Lives

No modulation, which suggests Roger and almost completely excludes Freddie. The chord progression sounds very similar to another Roger’s track, Heaven For Everyone. The keyboards were programmed by all four in the studio. Roger sang it on his solo concerts.

Roger was asked to name his favourite own song in Queen, The Cross and his solo projects in 1994. His answer was “Happiness, Days Of Our Lives, Final Destination”. Three years before Brian had told he did the solo as a first take, and asked Roger to wait it to grow on him. That way he suggested the song belonged to Roger. David Richards did another confirmation when he said “it’s Roger” in 2001.

- Conclusion: Roger


The Hitman

All musical factor guide to Freddie: the small orchestral parts, the way the key is switched down and then up again (although Roger did that in his own arrangement of Racing In The Streets), and specially the acyclic form. Again, note that all the acyclic songs in Queen are Freddie’s: Bo Rhap, Black Queen, Fairy Feller’s, Fairy King, Princes Of The Universe… The demo is sung by Brian though. That can suggest Brian wrote the lyrics, but not the music, not necessarily.

Brian said he was heavily involved with it in 1994, but that doesn’t mean he’s the (main) writer. Dave Richards said after all those years two different memories were created in his mind: one of Brian writing it, and one of Freddie. Fortunately Brian had said the story in 1991 at Sunset Strip Hotel: Freddie wrote the track, Brian wasn’t even present when he did, but he did change the key and some notes to make it playable on the guitar (which means Fred wrote it in keyboards), and that the arrangements are John’s.

Conclusion: Freddie. Even though John and Brian are the main arrangers, that’s not enough for a credit, or else Radio Ga Ga would be Taylor/Mercury.


The Invisible Man

The song-form is one-bridge model, something more Roger-esque (check Modern Times Rock N’ Roll, Tenement Funster, I’m In Love With My Car, Drowse, The Loser In The End) but also used a couple of times by the others (I Want To Break Free, Life Is Real…). The techno influence doesn’t have any historical connection with anybody in the band except for Roger, who wrote several New Era influenced songs.

In the last interview made to all the band together (in 1989), they were asked who was responsible for Invisible Man. Both Freddie and Brian said “Roger”. Mr. Taylor said twice in 1989 that the original idea came from him. David Richards in 2001 also said it was Roger’s, as did Brian and Roger himself in the audio commentary of GVHII in the year of 2003. All the versions seem to match.

- Conclusion: Roger.


The Miracle

The key choice is unlikely from Brian, Roger or John (Eb, Cm, Fm and Db), but it has a possible explanation: they tuned down the guitars. But there are more Mercury-esque details: the I > bVIII > bVI progression is a reversed form of what he used in some earlier tracks (like Play The Game), also the heavy use of slash chords (Ab7/Gb, Gb/Ab, Eb/Db, Db/Bb), the vocal duet in the second bridge (one voice sings and the other voice speaks the same lyric, as in Fred’s solo song How Can I Go On), stepwise bass in the verse. Still with tuned down guitars the key choice would be Freddie-esque in the verse (C#m).

Fortunately so much has been said about this one. Freddie said twice in 1989 that all four contributed to the lyrics, and in one of those interviews he also added that the first idea came from John and himself playing some chords and deciding the melody line. Brian referred to it as mainly Freddie in 1994, in 1998 he listed it as one of his favourite Mercury songs together with Killer Queen, Lily Of The Valley, Bohemian Rhapsody, Play The Game and The March Of The Black Queen. In 2001 and 2002 David Richards said it’s Freddie’s, and in 2003 Brian talked about it as “one of Freddie’s most magical songs”.

- Conclusion: Freddie


The Show Must Go On

The use of verse and chorus over the same progression is more common of Roger although it can very easily be the first time one of the others tried that. First chorus is only lead voice, the next one is with choir. That’s something Brian-esque, and although it reflects arrangement more than song writing, it’s unlikely that Brian arranged a song he didn’t write (even though it’s still possible). Brian said he played keyboards so that leads more to his side anyway. Both Brian and Roger did in their solo tours.

This song has a lot of contradiction in the quotes. In 1994 he said that the sequence is Roger and John, then Fred and himself sat down, wrote the lyrics of the first verse and decided the theme of the song and melody. In 2001 he said Roger, Fred and John were just playing and that Brian heard a sequence he liked. He wrote the song basing on it and showed it to the guys later. In 2003 he said the sequence was Roger and himself.

Elton John said Fred wrote the lyrics, but I guess he just assumed it because of Fred’s condition. David Richards said in 2001 that it was Brian.

Conclusion: Lyrically it seems Brian, but the sequence (which is more or less most of the music) can be someone else. Everything points that it was Roger + someone, but meanwhile I’d credit the song to Brian only.


Under Pressure

Credited to Queen and David Bowie, this one’s a very long story. There’s an almost definitive link to Freddie, musically: a-cyclic song form. In terms of arrangements it’s Roger-esque in the guitar arpeggios and the four-in-a-bar piano chords. Still Roger could have arranged it but someone else wrote it. According to John the bass-line is David’s, according to Roger and Brian the bass-riff is John’s, but even if that’s true it isn’t enough for a song-credit. Apparently it went through so many changes, and different productions Roger, David (Bowie), David (Richards), Freddie and Mack.

- Conclusion: There are very few conclusive quotes, and it’s in fact a collaboration although the main reason for a group credit must be commercial (a “Queen/Bowie” credit would have more press coverage than a “Mercury/Bowie” or “May/Taylor” credit). Brian said that it was David Bowie who organised the lyrical part and decided what to include and what not to include (all five had added ideas). John said that the song is in essence Freddie’s although all contributed, specially Brian in the main part. This track is very much a group thing, but perhaps no more than Liar or Father To Son, so I personally would credit it to Freddie and David Bowie.


You Don’t Fool Me

The use of alternate verse is slightly Roger-esque although it’s something that the other three could easily do. On the solo there’s the descending bass line cliché. That Freddie-esque detail is not as obvious as in other songs (like Bohemian Rhapsody or Lily Of The Valley), but it’s still there.

- Conclusion: Just what David Richards said: music by Roger and Freddie, lyrics by Freddie.


Was It All Worth It

The orchestral interludes are a no-one-but-Freddie thing, but still the (main) section could have been written by some one else. In fact the riff is played by Brian in keyboards and guitar, which suggests he wrote it. But writing a riff doesn’t equal writing a song anyway.

Brian said in 1994 that it was more Freddie, something confirmed by David Richards in 2001 and 2002. David said though that all four contributed to the lyrics, particularly Roger in the “we love you madly” part.

- Conclusion: It’s still Freddie, he was the main writer, although of course the track wouldn’t be the same without the others.

1.BrianMay 12 Jan 2004 02:23
"It’s A Beautiful Day

The piano has that typical descending bass at the end of the bridge. Completely
Freddie-esque detail. Something also Freddie-esque is the song-form, acyclic. Only
he did that. Moreover David Richards cleared that it’s Mercury’s in
2001.

- Conclusion: Freddie"

I think it isn't really right to give 'all' the credits to Freddie for this one, I think it's fair to say it was Queen. Don't forget Freddie started it off in 1979/1980, for The Game, and that the guys found only the piano and vocals and build a whole song around it.
The guys just had a little bit of the song. Kind of like The Beatles with 'Free as a Bird'

2.BrianMay 12 Jan 2004 02:24
nice article, btw!
3.Sebastian 12 Jan 2004 14:22
about Beautiful Day, Brian, Roger and specially John arranged the track, but they didn't write new sections or whatsoever. The bass and guitar parts are based in the chords Freddie had written in the piano. Freddie in a similar way wrote the bass-riff of 'A Kind Of Magic' but as I said, that's part of the arrangement more than writing.

About 'Free', yeah it can be more or less considered a collaboration since they added some new parts, as opposed to 'Real Love' where they just arranged but didn't write chords or lyrics.
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