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Bohemian Rhapsody


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My brother and I were talking about all of this just yesterday.

The movie (which is said was fantastic), Freddie Mercury (his life, the impact his coming out as an aids carrier had on the overall perception of the disease), and Queen.

Freddie Mercury was not only a great singer, he was a great song writer. I had a friend in HS whose favorite song was Bohemian Rhapsody, and he sang it so much that he always got someone else singing with him. 


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Freddie's last live performance (1988, he died of aids in 1991) with his friend Montserrat Caballe who lived in Barcelona.  The rest of the story follows the video, but this shows the range of interests that Freddie had.

"Barcelona" is a single released by Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé. A part of their collaborative album Barcelona, it also appeared on Queen's Greatest Hits III.

The song reflects Mercury's love of opera with his high notes and Caballé's operatic vocals, backed by a full orchestra. Originally released in 1987, it was one of the biggest hits of Mercury's solo career, reaching number eight in the UK Singles Chart. After Mercury's death in 1991, it was featured at the 1992 Summer Olympics, after which the track climbed even higher, peaking at number two in the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In 2004, BBC Radio 2 listed Barcelona at number 41 in its Sold On Song Top 100.

Mercury had been a long-time fan of opera, especially favouring Montserrat Caballé.[2] In 1986, he mentioned on Spanish television that he would be glad to see her in person. They had a friendly initial meeting in Barcelona in February 1987. Later, when the city had been chosen for the 1992 Summer Olympics, Caballé, a native of the city, was asked to help with producing a song for the games. She summoned Mercury for the task.[1] Caballé became enthusiastic about the project and instead of recording a single, she proposed to make an album, on which Mercury agreed.[3] The song "Barcelona" had to be its opening song, to be completed by 1988, and to be submitted as a candidate for the 1992 Olympic theme (the selection was scheduled for 1988, four years before the Games).[4] The recording was complicated by Caballé's tight schedule. Thus to spare her time, Mercury recorded the song, singing Caballé's part in falsetto. He would then send a tape to Caballé to prepare her for the joint studio sessions.[5]

The song was co-written by Mercury with Mike Moran, who also appeared in its video and played piano and all keyboards for the studio recording.[2] The song starts with an orchestral introduction, which fades and is followed by Mercury and Caballé singing alternately their solo lines, sometimes merging into a duet. When singing the chorus "Barcelona" and a few other parts for the studio version, Mercury dubs over his voice in his usual multi-tracking style. Mercury leads the song whereas Caballé provides a powerful "background" soprano. Since Caballé covers the soprano part, Mercury sings in his natural baritone voice rather than forced tenor, which was common in his other recordings.[5]

The song has been described as a rare textbook example of a combination of pop and opera singing which accentuated their differences.[6]Whereas Mercury articulates his every word, Caballé focuses on the tone; her lines are much harder to comprehend, and further, she uses both English and Spanish languages. Consequently, she keeps her part melodic throughout all the song at the expense of the text, whereas Mercury has to resort from singing to nearly shouting at the crescendo part in order to deliver his words.[7] Mercury was reportedly amazed by the legendary ability of Caballé to control her voice; for example, in the fadeout, he had to step away from the microphone to decrease his voice intensity, whereas she didn't move at all.


I don't know anything about music or singing, so the back story was fascinating to me.  The other thing about any Freddie Mercury performance is that you can see his total commitment to the performance.  He always leaves it all on the stage!  There are certainly others who could perform at that level, like Janice Joplin and Mick Jagger, but Freddie didn't take a back seat to anyone.

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