apolla: (George and Arthur)
I noticed a funny thing recently. Within days of each other, it will be the fifteenth anniversary of Freddie Mercury (24th Nov) and the fifth anniversary of George Harrison (29 Nov). Barely ten years separate these two events, and I find that a strange quirk of the universe. This post is less about them than it is about me.

apolla: (George and Arthur)
I noticed a funny thing recently. Within days of each other, it will be the fifteenth anniversary of Freddie Mercury (24th Nov) and the fifth anniversary of George Harrison (29 Nov). Barely ten years separate these two events, and I find that a strange quirk of the universe. This post is less about them than it is about me.

apolla: (Freddie)

As I have a habit of doing, last night I was flicking through the music channels on the telly. I rarely find anything I really really like and even rarer find something I've never seen before.

Last night, one of them, Magic, had 'Barcelona' by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe. I have seen chunks of this, clips of this, but never the whole thing, not until today.

Freddie Mercury was the first rock star I liked to die on me. I was nine years old and although I remember feeling sad that Roy Orbison died, he was more my dad's than mine at the time. Freddie's death set the scene for me for the rest of my life so far. A life caught between reality and unreality but mostly between love and mourning- that singular feeling of great joy and great sadness combined together.

The thing is, this particular songs has very particular memories for me and probably other people in the UK. In 1992, the year following Freddie's death, the Olympics were held in Barcelona. The BBC, or whoever was doing the coverage that year, chose the most obvious theme song. The year after his death, Freddie was still there every time some steroid-fuelled runner/jumper/swimmer person was running/jumping/swimming.

But I never saw the whole video before. He looks so terribly fragile, but still beautiful in that strange way of his. That "You think I'm beautiful but don't know why" way. Montserrat is a great singer, but she's largely redundant because Freddie is there. Her voice is ornamental and although she's great in it, the song would be little worse off without her there. I like to think of Barcelona as his last triumphant hurrah, moreso than Made in Heaven which is a nice album but would probably never seen the light of day if he'd lived. Barcelona is something of an end, and you can bet he knew that in 1988 when it was released.

Like the last line of 'I'm Going Slightly Mad' being "I still love you", I like to think that he was quietly preparing for the death he knew was coming. He knew it, even if he kept it from the rest of us until closer to the end. He knew it, and I hope he was saying goodbye.

Why do I think this? Because in Barcelona, the one line not distracted by operatic stuff is this:

And if God is willing we will meet again someday

This is the sentiment that not only gets me up in the morning, but the one that gets me out of bed, into the bathroom, gets me dressed, forces the smile onto my face and the joke onto my tongue. It is the thought that honestly keeps me alive, that one day (ironically, when I die) I will be with my boys at last. I nearly typed 'reunited' and 'again' just then, but I remembered in time that I haven't been with any of them in their lifetimes. I was too young for Philip and Freddie, and as for John and Jim...

I'm getting off the point. I was reminded last night of the glorious exuberance of Freddie Mercury and the searing pain of losing him. Somehow Barcelona has always captured for me that spirit between the sparkling, glittering triumph and the crushing sadness of losing one of our greatest to such a horrendous, slow, painful and premature death.

If God is willing
If God is willing
If God is willing
Friends until the end.




apolla: (Freddie)

As I have a habit of doing, last night I was flicking through the music channels on the telly. I rarely find anything I really really like and even rarer find something I've never seen before.

Last night, one of them, Magic, had 'Barcelona' by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe. I have seen chunks of this, clips of this, but never the whole thing, not until today.

Freddie Mercury was the first rock star I liked to die on me. I was nine years old and although I remember feeling sad that Roy Orbison died, he was more my dad's than mine at the time. Freddie's death set the scene for me for the rest of my life so far. A life caught between reality and unreality but mostly between love and mourning- that singular feeling of great joy and great sadness combined together.

The thing is, this particular songs has very particular memories for me and probably other people in the UK. In 1992, the year following Freddie's death, the Olympics were held in Barcelona. The BBC, or whoever was doing the coverage that year, chose the most obvious theme song. The year after his death, Freddie was still there every time some steroid-fuelled runner/jumper/swimmer person was running/jumping/swimming.

But I never saw the whole video before. He looks so terribly fragile, but still beautiful in that strange way of his. That "You think I'm beautiful but don't know why" way. Montserrat is a great singer, but she's largely redundant because Freddie is there. Her voice is ornamental and although she's great in it, the song would be little worse off without her there. I like to think of Barcelona as his last triumphant hurrah, moreso than Made in Heaven which is a nice album but would probably never seen the light of day if he'd lived. Barcelona is something of an end, and you can bet he knew that in 1988 when it was released.

Like the last line of 'I'm Going Slightly Mad' being "I still love you", I like to think that he was quietly preparing for the death he knew was coming. He knew it, even if he kept it from the rest of us until closer to the end. He knew it, and I hope he was saying goodbye.

Why do I think this? Because in Barcelona, the one line not distracted by operatic stuff is this:

And if God is willing we will meet again someday

This is the sentiment that not only gets me up in the morning, but the one that gets me out of bed, into the bathroom, gets me dressed, forces the smile onto my face and the joke onto my tongue. It is the thought that honestly keeps me alive, that one day (ironically, when I die) I will be with my boys at last. I nearly typed 'reunited' and 'again' just then, but I remembered in time that I haven't been with any of them in their lifetimes. I was too young for Philip and Freddie, and as for John and Jim...

I'm getting off the point. I was reminded last night of the glorious exuberance of Freddie Mercury and the searing pain of losing him. Somehow Barcelona has always captured for me that spirit between the sparkling, glittering triumph and the crushing sadness of losing one of our greatest to such a horrendous, slow, painful and premature death.

If God is willing
If God is willing
If God is willing
Friends until the end.




apolla: (Freddie)

I have just lost a post about Freddie Mercury for the second time. Fuck it, let us do this quickly:

Love you Freddie. Miss you Freddie. Wouldn't be me without you. Hope the celestial champagne is flowing, dear boy.

*

Both times, I was writing about George Best, so I can only surmise that Somebody Up There doesn't want me to say what I want to say. Even if it is George's old drinking buddy Philip Lynott, I am going to say this if I have to retype it sixteen times.

Legend Best 'enters final hours' says the BBC. He doesn't have long, but only the blindly optimistic have expected him to recover.

The Belfast Boy is not going to get a hero's death. It will have been and will continue to be slow and painful, probably more for his family and the people that love him than for him. But you know what? George Best has not been a true hero for decades. Literally decades. That's alcoholism for you, I guess. Had he died in the 70s, he'd be amongst the pantheon of our great heroes, loved and admired far and wide. He'd probably be more sainted even than those tragic Busby Babes. But he lived, and so we have watched as alcoholism has ravaged this man and those who love him.

And I'm sorry, but the media has to take some of the blame. Not for his inability (or indeed unwillingness) to kick alcohol even after getting a new liver, for only he can (and should) shoulder that. The media really needed to leave him alone years ago. To just say "fine George, get on with your life", but instead they built him up and up and so he and second wife Alex became tabloid regulars when what he needed was peace and quiet. The last thing he ever needed was front pages and headlines.

This country deified George Best, and I suspect that this is a contributory factor to what is happening right now. We've even had a kind of grotesque deathwatch going on for the past days.

Terrible as it is to say, if he'd died in the 70s, he'd be a real legend. As it is, he is an empty shell of someone who used to be great a very long time ago. I wish I didn't have to say it. When he got the new liver, half the country said he was undeserving, and the other half said 'give him a chance'. I was in the latter group, and I'm a little heartbroken that he didn't manage to take his chance for long.

Perhaps the real reason I care at all is because I suspect that George's fate is the one all my boys risked had they lived. Would Philip Lynott be like George if he'd not died? Would Jim? I'm going to say not, because it's the only way I'll get to sleep tonight.

Lastly, George Best was a legend once. Please let us not forget that. Perhaps with death, George will regain the grace and beauty he once possessed. I've seen the old film of George playing in that famous 1968 European Championship and in a hundred other games. He was a great player. So brilliant that even casual football fans like me were left breathless watching. David Beckham may play for a hundred years and never be quite like George.

George Best was a rock and roll sportsman. He was dishevelled and scruffy and handsome. He was all those things Keith Moon was, all the things Philip was, right down to the charisma that got him not one but two Miss Worlds.

God love you George, and so do the British, for we love nobody so much as a fallen legend. God love you, and may you find the peace you deserve.

***

Have now seen Goblet of Fire. Might talk about it over the weekend here, but while I found the second third funny and the last third affecting, I was annoyed to see that the 'style over content' theory was still being adhered to. However, much love for Doctor Casanova and the endlessly brilliant Brendan Gleeson. So glad he got to keep his more usual accent.

apolla: (Freddie)

I have just lost a post about Freddie Mercury for the second time. Fuck it, let us do this quickly:

Love you Freddie. Miss you Freddie. Wouldn't be me without you. Hope the celestial champagne is flowing, dear boy.

*

Both times, I was writing about George Best, so I can only surmise that Somebody Up There doesn't want me to say what I want to say. Even if it is George's old drinking buddy Philip Lynott, I am going to say this if I have to retype it sixteen times.

Legend Best 'enters final hours' says the BBC. He doesn't have long, but only the blindly optimistic have expected him to recover.

The Belfast Boy is not going to get a hero's death. It will have been and will continue to be slow and painful, probably more for his family and the people that love him than for him. But you know what? George Best has not been a true hero for decades. Literally decades. That's alcoholism for you, I guess. Had he died in the 70s, he'd be amongst the pantheon of our great heroes, loved and admired far and wide. He'd probably be more sainted even than those tragic Busby Babes. But he lived, and so we have watched as alcoholism has ravaged this man and those who love him.

And I'm sorry, but the media has to take some of the blame. Not for his inability (or indeed unwillingness) to kick alcohol even after getting a new liver, for only he can (and should) shoulder that. The media really needed to leave him alone years ago. To just say "fine George, get on with your life", but instead they built him up and up and so he and second wife Alex became tabloid regulars when what he needed was peace and quiet. The last thing he ever needed was front pages and headlines.

This country deified George Best, and I suspect that this is a contributory factor to what is happening right now. We've even had a kind of grotesque deathwatch going on for the past days.

Terrible as it is to say, if he'd died in the 70s, he'd be a real legend. As it is, he is an empty shell of someone who used to be great a very long time ago. I wish I didn't have to say it. When he got the new liver, half the country said he was undeserving, and the other half said 'give him a chance'. I was in the latter group, and I'm a little heartbroken that he didn't manage to take his chance for long.

Perhaps the real reason I care at all is because I suspect that George's fate is the one all my boys risked had they lived. Would Philip Lynott be like George if he'd not died? Would Jim? I'm going to say not, because it's the only way I'll get to sleep tonight.

Lastly, George Best was a legend once. Please let us not forget that. Perhaps with death, George will regain the grace and beauty he once possessed. I've seen the old film of George playing in that famous 1968 European Championship and in a hundred other games. He was a great player. So brilliant that even casual football fans like me were left breathless watching. David Beckham may play for a hundred years and never be quite like George.

George Best was a rock and roll sportsman. He was dishevelled and scruffy and handsome. He was all those things Keith Moon was, all the things Philip was, right down to the charisma that got him not one but two Miss Worlds.

God love you George, and so do the British, for we love nobody so much as a fallen legend. God love you, and may you find the peace you deserve.

***

Have now seen Goblet of Fire. Might talk about it over the weekend here, but while I found the second third funny and the last third affecting, I was annoyed to see that the 'style over content' theory was still being adhered to. However, much love for Doctor Casanova and the endlessly brilliant Brendan Gleeson. So glad he got to keep his more usual accent.

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