With the eagerly-awaited Queen biopic about to hit the silver screen, this seemed a good time to pay a visit to my favourite Queen song.
Queen gave us a number of iconic songs over the years…and in some cases even more iconic videos. Despite Freddie Mercury passing away nearly 30 years ago, Queen remain one of the best-selling bands of all time which is a testament to the immense quality of their songs.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is the song that really took Queen into the big time, but before that, I loved “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and had a real thing for for the stylish sophistication of “Killer Queen”…still do, in fact.
But of all the great songs written by the various members of Queen, “Don’t Stop Me Now” is the one I enjoy more than all the others.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” was a track on Queen’s 1978 album “Jazz”, and was released as a single in 1979. Chart-wise it made the UK Top 10, but barely registered elsewhere.
It’s got an infectious, empowering energy. I always think of “Don’t Stop Me Now” as the perfect pen portrait of Freddie Mercury, a man who, if he didn’t write the book on hedonism, certainly gave the concept a good run for its money.
With “Don’t Stop Me Now” playing in the background, you’re somehow freed of all earthly constraints…you’re communing with the spirits…
I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go, go, go
There’s no stopping me
Sometimes we get a little earnest around here with the finer points of lyrical interpretation. But I’d be the first to admit some of the lyrics for “Don’t Stop Me Now” make very little sense…I’m not sure tigers defy the laws of gravity any more than any other creature and, last time I checked, Lady Godiva was more famous for riding a horse than driving a racing car.
But that misses the point of the joyous release of feel-good vibes which flowed from Freddie Mercury’s pen as he wrote “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
When things are going well for you…really well…better than you could ever have imagined…it’s like an out-of-body experience. You’re floating, metaphorically if not literally, into the heavens and you know, at that precise moment, you could take on the world and be confident of coming out on top.
That sort of exuberant, positive energy…the sort of energy Freddie Mercury was famous for…is perfectly encapsulated by “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Every that every time I hear it, the song sprinkles a little bit of positivity onto my day, whatever else might be doing against me.
I didn’t see Queen live back in the day, although I have seen them with Paul Rogers on vocal duty more recently, but their performances were legendary.
Freddie Mercury could get all 80,000 people in a huge stadium venue to feel his energy, as if he was singing just for them. Quiet, and rather shy, off-stage his on-stage presence shone nearly as brighter than anybody else’s, then or since.
When you hear people say “they don’t make them like that any more”, Freddie Mercury is one of the people they’re talking about. Queen’s Live Aid performance back in 1985 was, for many, the high water mark for a live performance by a rock band.
It’s important to note that Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon between them produced a near-studio quality performance completely live, with no tapes, backing singers or extra musicians…a huge tribute to their collective musicianship.
And the crowd went wild, knowing they were in the presence of greatness. Take a look here if you haven’t seen it before…for a masterclass in performance, and some great songs along the way, it’s well worth half an hour of your time… https://youtu.be/A22oy8dFjqc
Sadly, for me at least, Queen didn’t play “Don’t Stop Me Now” at Live Aid. For a song that, in the years since its release as a single in 1979, has come to be seen as a Queen classic spent most of the 40-odd years after its release flying distinctly under the radar.
But it built an increasingly strong support over the years. By the time Rolling Stone Magazine polled its readers on their favourite Queen songs in 2014, “Don’t Stop Me Now” appeared at a very respectable number three on the list.
And it is a gorgeous song.
As an ex-piano player, I especially like the piano part. Freddie Mercury tended to compose on the piano and you can really tell with this song. The little syncopated riffs are a thing of great beauty, injecting a sense of urgency, propelling the song through the sky like the shooting star he sings about.
It’s a perfect marriage of music and lyric…
I’m burning through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Farenheit
I’m trav’ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you
Frankly, nobody has ever made a supersonic man out of me. The closest I get is listening to Freddie Mercury give us his all on “Don’t Stop Me Now”, so I’m grateful that Freddie was inspired to write it.
For such an iconic artist, I hope the new biopic does Freddie justice and fairly reflects the considerable individual contributions of his band mates to the worldwide success of Queen.
Freddie attracted most of the attention, which suited the others just fine, I think. But they were all great songwriters and performers in their own right and they’ve kept Freddie Mercury’s songs and memory alive for nearly 30 years now.
“Don’t Stop Me Now”, Freddie Mercury sang.
Sadly, in the end, “a big disease with a little name”, as Prince put it, did stop him. But his songs live on.
Here’s the wonderfully exuberant, joyous, celebratory, empowering “Don’t Stop Me Now”…written by Freddie Mercury, and performed by the peerless Queen…
The video is below or, if you prefer, you can enjoy the song on Spotify here…https://open.spotify.com/track/0LPMWPwCHrIorXSdpnPVyv
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”…or even more than one if you’re feeling kind. You can also follow me on Medium (here) or Twitter (here) to get new articles as soon as they’re published.