April 7th, 2012


Music is the most insidious of the arts. The one that burrows deepest, the one it's hardest to shake. If I hate a painting I can forget about it; it doesn't insist on wallpapering my inner world. I'm not obliged to constantly replay the plots of bad novels. Pickled sharks and poems by Ted Hughes don't go round and round in my head the way Bohemian Rhapsody does if it first gets a grip. I like Queen about as much as I like Hirst and Hughes (which is to say not much) but I carry their collected hits around with me, like a box of runny gelignite, ready to be touched off at the slightest jolt. "Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro."

I was watching a documentary about them last night. Every time one of their songs struck up my brain did a little squeal and started singing along. Brain, I hate you!

I have a certain regard for Freddie. Offstage, as filmed interviews made plain, he was a sweet, mousy little guy with a Simpson's overbite. You wanted to take him home to your mum and have her knit him a sweater. How did that wholly unremarkable person become the priapic rock god of our dreams? Oh the transfiguring, Dionysiac power of art.