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Emails to my Therapist

Feeling Thankful for Freddie Mercury

Dear Nicholas, I’d never heard of the guy until a few months ago or his band Queen. Never expected to be feeling thankful for Freddie Mercury on this Thanksgiving holiday.

My acquaintance with his music came about in a curious manner.

At Sea With Scaramouches

By chance, I’d  joined the first (and for me, last) rehearsal of a pick-up chorus, on a cruise ship. We were to sing something called “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“What is this?” said the woman beside me, clutching her copy of the lengthy lyrics. I didn’t know. First, I guessed it was from Marriage of Figaro. Then, I thought, no, it’s Gilbert & Sullivan. Equally improbable.

I’d attended on a whim, because husband Bob, who has a beautiful tenor voice, was interested. Me? Several years earlier, I had dragged my own near-bass mutterings to a “Singing for Non-Singers” class and emerged improved. Bob said my voice had gone from “unpleasant to pleasant.” High praise, indeed.

A Musical Challenge

If you know the song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you’re aware that the voices seem to come from quickly-changing different directions. And the parts overlap. The assembled passenger singers tried very hard, over and over and over. We made a remarkable hash of it, at the level of a drunken rendering of “Happy Birthday.” What a bunch of scaramouches we were (Italian for clown, one of the unfamiliar words in the song.) As I said, I didn’t go back.

(When the group sang the song at the talent show on the last night, it was good! I was astounded! Then the emcee acknowledged the added talent of the professional troupe, the Royal Caribbean singers, who had graciously joined in.)

I Have to See It?

In recent weeks, my brother Franc has told me on average every other day that I must go see the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He has never been so insistent.

Couldn’t find any friends longing to go, so I stopped on my way home from work and went to the movie by myself.

Now I understand.  And I’m so glad I went. I walked out of that theatre floating on such a feeling of triumph, the triumph of one guy’s art and authenticity over every difficulty, including his own death. As I’ve written here before, my family has been dealing with loss in recent weeks.

Thankful for Freddie Mercury and Queen

The power of the music and the man’s energy, his full-force life force, and the over-powering upwellings of love from his live  audiences, as large as 130,000 –all of that made me remember the book Death Be Not Proud, a father’s tribute to the courage of his dying seventeen year-old son.

thankful for Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody

I strongly felt once again that such high-spiritedness can’t simply go away, but is instead hanging out in the next room.

For this, I am thankful. Wishing you a good holiday….



My favorite minute of the music:



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  • Lee Grohse
    November 22, 2018 at 1:49 pm Reply

    Here’s a very silly posting and attached video I recently put on FB. The video’s been around for years, but given that you did not know Bohemian Rhapsody, I’m guessing you haven’t see it. Enjoy if you can!— “It’s not the ability to make tools. It’s not the use of high order language. Here is what distinguishes us from other animal species. We alone possess religion, music, Christmas, puppets, and Freddie Mercury! And can put them together!”
    Bethlehem Rhapsody:

    • Peggy Payne
      November 22, 2018 at 3:56 pm Reply

      Not silly at all, Lee! Delightful and profound. It supports my earlier conviction that this piece of music is innately religious. Cathedral-ish is the way I described it to Bob. (He didn’t go back for the second rehearsal either.) Thanks for posting this!

  • November 23, 2018 at 12:29 am Reply

    Not seen the movie, and acquainted only with his 2 or 3 most powerful and popular songs. Which I like very much – I’m glad you were up-lifted in your grieving time.

    • Peggy Payne
      November 23, 2018 at 1:50 am Reply

      Thanks, and I’m glad you like as much as you’ve heard, Bob. I’ve become such a fan–maybe partly gratitude for the uplift.

  • Kenju
    November 23, 2018 at 1:28 am Reply

    I too loved Bohemian Rhapsody and had I known you wanted to see it, I’d have gladly gone to see it again!!

    • Peggy Payne
      November 23, 2018 at 1:49 am Reply

      Wish I’d known, Kenju. I’m glad you share my enthusiasm!

  • November 27, 2018 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Hello, Peggy! I’d read a lukewarm review of the film in the NY Times that seemed fixated on the actor’s prosthetic teeth. I had no plans to see the film, but your blog post put it back on my radar.
    I’m sorry for your recent loss and wish you a serene and peaceful heart this holiday season.
    x Ed McCann

    • Peggy Payne
      November 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm Reply

      Hello, Ed! I didn’t read any reviews, but heard it got some bad ones. That doesn’t seem to have interfered with the movie’s popularity. If you see it, I’d love to know what you think. So good to hear from you. Thanks for your good wishes. Happy holidays to you!

  • Ron Perkinson
    December 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm Reply

    I am a huge believer that experienceing the best in the world at whatever the accomplishment is always valuable. This would include the ability to walk on your hands or to knit. Queen was the absolute best in the genre of operatic rock. Freddie Mercury was the reason. I’m not even sure of the others who might be considered, but I suppose U-2 fits. Lost in the Freddie Mercury legacy is his creation of the NCAA basketball championship with “We Are the Champions”. Couldn’ t exist without it.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 7, 2018 at 1:18 am Reply

      Yes, and I remember my mom telling me in my youth that it didn’t so much matter what field I chose, just go to the top of it. Not always so easy!

  • Ron Perkinson
    December 5, 2018 at 7:37 pm Reply

    Freddie Mercury and Queen are the best operatic-rock band ever. Of course, it’s a pretty small field. U-2 comes to mind. But they must be praised for making the NCAA basketball championship possible. Without “We Are the Champions” I believe that event would collapse.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 7, 2018 at 1:17 am Reply

      I never knew there was such a genre as operatic rock band. Though I did know We Are the Champions, of course. It’s all a very nice discovery!

  • December 12, 2018 at 8:31 pm Reply

    The North Carolina Symphony will play a program of The Music of Queen on March 22, 2019.

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