The Queen song Brian May called a “stroke of genius”

Working alongside Freddie Mercury in Queen for decades was never a chore for Brian May, who was consistently amazed by the magic his bandmate could cook up in the studio. The mercurial frontman operated on a different wavelength from his peers, with his risk-taking strategies propelling Queen to success.

Mercury was an outside-of-the-box thinker who did things differently. At times, his bold strategies and penchant for living life in the fast line worried May, but it proved to be the catalyst for Queen reaching the top of their game. In the late 1970s, Mercury revelled in hedonism and wanted to keep the good times rolling forever, inspiring the hit ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.

The aforementioned track, which appeared on the band’s album Jazz, was recorded in Switzerland in 1978, with Mercury writing the lyrics as a sole endeavour. Everything in his life was going swimmingly, and he wanted to bottle these emotions forever, which he did in the form of a song.

Despite initially not performing well, by Queen’s high standards, as a single, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ later became one of the group’s most beloved tracks. Yet, at first, even May was unsure of the song and felt it expressed an inappropriate message that didn’t fit the band’s moral compass.

However, the guitarist later reassessed his opinion upon seeing how it connected with the general public, who adopted it as their hedonistic anthem. May went full circle from viewing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ as an irresponsible act of musicianship to appreciating it as the “stroke of genius” from Mercury that it was.

During an interview with Absolute Radio in 2011, May said: “I thought it was a lot of fun, but I did have an undercurrent feeling of, ‘aren’t we talking about danger here,’ because we were worried about Freddie at this point.”

“That feeling lingers, but it’s become almost the most successful Queen track as regards to what people play in their car or at their weddings. It’s become a massive, massive track and an anthem to people who want to be hedonistic. It was kind of a stroke of genius from Freddie,” he added.

Similar to May, Queen drummer Roger Taylor wasn’t initially particularly enamoured with ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, but the way the song’s meaning has evolved over the years is a source of pride for the musician.

Taylor told Mojo in 2019: “I don’t necessarily think it’s one of our best songs, but I love the sentiment ‘call me Mr. Fahrenheit.’ It’s hilarious and it’s become a sort of rallying cry.”

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ offers a snapshot into Mercury’s existence when he was happiest and had no care in the world. While he was later cruelly robbed of his life, this track paints a portrait of the person that he’d want to be remembered.

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