The Queen classic Freddie Mercury wrote in “five or ten minutes”

Who knows where inspiration comes from? It’s a mystery that people have been trying to figure out since the dawn of time. The act of ideas hitting from nowhere is an amazing phenomenon. Within a split second, a lightning strike of genius hits an artist, and the rest is history. Freddie Mercury knew that feeling well as divine inspiration struck and gave him one of his most beloved songs in only a few minutes.

There are a few well-known stories of massive hits being written incredibly fast. Paul McCartney woke up with ‘Let It Be’ fully formed in his head. Bob Dylan wrote his epic ‘Desolation Row’ over the course of a taxi ride. In the case of Queen, Mercury penned ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ in only five or ten minutes.

Sure, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ is in no way the band’s most elaborate lyrical outing. If he was claiming that a song like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, with its spiralling and storytelling verses, was written in a few minutes, that would be an otherworldly triumph. But still, the creation of a rock and roll track as solid and timeless as their 1979 track that fast is something to marvel at.

Specifically, the song came to him while soaking in the tub. It seems that the warm water and relaxation proved inspiring as he began to come up with the idea for the toe-tapper. He was just trying to chill in his room at the Munich Hilton while the band were working on their album, The Game. But once the song started to take form, he lept out of the band, desperate to get it down in time.

“The idea for the song came to him while he was in the bath,” Peter Hince, the band’s road crew leader remembered. “He emerged, wrapped in a towel. I handed him the guitar, and he worked out the chords there and then. Fred had this knack of knowing a great pop song.”

The image of Freddie Mercury reaching for a guitar feels like an odd one. He usually left that to Brian May while the frontman was exactly that. He was the band’s singer, known for his captivating on-stage presence, not for his playing. However, he thought that maybe his limited skills on the instrument actually helped the song.

“’Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ took me five or ten minutes,” he recalled in his autobiography. “I did that on the guitar, which I can’t play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords. It’s a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn’t work through too many chords, and because of that restriction, I wrote a good song, I think.”

Being confined to just a few simple chords meant that Mercury wrote a good old-fashioned, four-chord rock and roll song. Giving the track its nostalgic feel, with the energy of an early 1960s track, the basic bones of the song are where its greatness lies.

Overwhelmingly, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ feels like a song that hasn’t been overthought or overdone. It’s simply a catchy tune that gave the band another huge hit and another upbeat, energetic track to add to their high-octane live set. Written quickly and allowed to exist in the joyous and fun package, it first hit Mercury as its beauty lies in its spontaneous nature.

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