God Save My Queen (The Freddie Fragments)
"Mr. Narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me." D. Boon, The Minutemen, "History Lesson-Part II"
In June 2000, I had a crisis. In a club called "Fun," an dank, empty club deep in Chinatown, I sat down for an interview for the VH1 show SoundAffects, and talked about how Queen changed my life.
I left so much out in that interview that I tried to write more poems about Queen, but hit a wall. Call it problems with verisimilitude, whatever it was, poems weren't doing the trick.
So I started writing a confessional book, freeing myself from what I think are very real aesthetic contraints on today's poem. The result is a kind of prose poem, with narration leading to definitive moments where I think my history and the object of my obsession's history-and I say this with a straight face-intersect.
The day I bought the Flash Gordon soundtrack, the cashier, whom I knew to be in a shitty suburban punk band, offered me my first record store clerk snide comment.
"Nice bass line," he said, looking down at the banana yellow album on the counter, punching up the price.
I walked away, meek and ashamed that my purchase had not passed muster. He was, of course, referring to the single-note bass line in "Flash's Theme," the single from on the soundtrack. But I was steamed. It was one of those times you think of with the perfect comeback later that night, and you lay there, beating yourself up for not coming up with it at the time.
In 1977, when Queen were recording The News Of The World, legend has it that the Sex Pistols were recording in an adjacent studio. Sid Vicious, wandering into the wrong room, as was his custom, came upon Freddie Mercury, sitting at a piano. His customary four fingers of vodka in hand.
"Ah, Freddie Mercury," Sid said, proud of his recognition. "Bringing ballet to the masses then?"
Freddie looked up from the keys, and, not missing a beat, offered his reply.
"Oh yes, Mister Ferocious. Well, we're doing our best, my dear."