Brian May talks
Another World press-pack video - A Transcription
Brian: It's taken six years to do, which is a big part of your life, isn't it? It wasn't like I was doing nothing else, mind you - I did a lot of projects during that time, including a couple of big Queen projects, which we really, I don't think, will be doing for a while now. I think it was time to move away again, I think it reminded me that I like being on my own these days, you know, I like being able to explore my own avenues, and that's what this album is.
I just wanted to put that little fragment on as an introduction to the album - it's nice to sort of tease in that way, I think. And for me, I wanted something just to set up the big big heavy opening track, and just set the mood of where the album's going.
We want something huge and powerful and wondrous to wallow in and that's what I was doing on The Business. And Cozy was a huge part of it, you know we've just lost Cozy, and probably want to spend a lot of time talking about him, but you immediately hear this massive drum track coming, and that's very much him. It isn't about somebody hitting something, it's about the inner energy and strength and optimism of this guy. And he's a crucial part of this album. I don't know what the hell I will do without him.
On My Way Up
The central character of this song, is someone who is basically a loser, you know, but has total belief, and an kind of insane optimism and he's going somewhere, you know 'Man, I'm on my way' and that's what this song is. And again, it became imbued with different things once I got going on the song, so it could be a few other things as well.
I'm fascinated with sequencing and loops and all those things. But this is a romp as well. It's a science fiction thing, and I thought wouldn't it be fun to put the robots point of view, for a change, you know, the robots emotions, and that's where it started. Again, you can find other stuff in there, because the robot's like the rest of us, you know? Well this one is anyway! Taylor was with Alanis Morrisette when Roger introduced me to him. He did a great job there, but he was kind of in the wrong place, and he's a totally explosive young guy, with incredible energy, and he found his proper place in the Foo Fighters. Well we're Foo Fighters fans, we like them a lot, and been to see a couple of their gigs, and it turns out that they are big fans of us, and they say 'Well Queen's the bible for us, you know, we learn a lot of our stuff from listening to you guys' so I just said to Taylor 'Would you like to come down here and do one' and he went 'Yeahh!'.
I started to sort of sculpt the song, and I thought wouldn't it be nice if it was kind of in some way about Jeff, who is the Guv'nor in our area, and there's a sort of metaphor there, an analogy - there's always the kid in the area that everyone goes 'Hmm..don't go near him' kind of thing. So Jeff is that kind of guy, you know, don't even think of it. And I got Jeff in to play. I actually plucked up the courage to say 'Jeff..would you play on my track?' and he said 'yeah!' and he loved the track, which I was thrilled about, came down here and played, and did some great stuff, some outrageous bits and pieces. But he said 'Brian, I'm not really happy - I need to take it away and think about it, and do my stuff at home' which tends to be what I do, so I said 'Fine'. About a year later, I'm going 'Er..Jeff? Anything happened to that track?' and he goes 'Oh yeah yeah...no no no..I'm really doing it, I really love it, but I haven't got around to it yet' so I was crossing my fingers, and hoping he was gonna come back, and I think 2 days before we were due to deliver the album to EMI, finally, I got the stuff back from Jeff, and it was really, really great. He'd done some more stuff at home and pieced it all together. He's such a perfectionist, I couldn't believe that you know, the image of Jeff Beck, which is true, is that he's unpredictable and he's spikey and spontaneous, you know. But there's another side to him which is very concerned, and very much a perfectionist. He didn't want that to go out unless it was something that was dead right. He rang up a few times and said 'Are you sure it's ok?' and I said 'Jeff? Ok? Are you kidding? It's unbelievable (laughs)' And that's the beauty of the guitar, you know - there's kids who pick up guitars and play them for a few weeks, my son is one of them, and you look at them and they're doing something that you never thought of, and it works. You don't have to be technically adept to play some good guitar - that's the wonderful thing. It's nice if you do pick up some technique on the way, 'cos it gives you more scope and you look at people like Hendrix and you learn. Look at people like Clapton and you learn, and Jeff Beck. And out of it all comes your own thing, but your own thing doesn't depend on like, outdoing this guy - it's just being yourself and finding your own emotion and putting it in there. It's noticeable that there isn't a sense of competition amongst guitar players - I'm always delighted by that. Every guitar player I've ever met is full of appreciation for everybody else, and doesn't really feel in competition. It's a really nice thing - a lot of sharing goes on. You know, you don't have this 'I'm not gonna show you what I'm doing here' It's so wonderful for me, I mean, I'm so privileged that I can meet someone like Eddie Van Halen, or Jeff or whatever, and say 'Well, how d'you do that bit?' It's every kids dream, isn't it? And I always think how privileged I am, and everybody always goes 'Oh, it's easy, I just sort of do this..' and you go 'Ahh..yeah, ok'
One Rainy Wish
Somebody asked me to do a tribute to Hendrix, and I think they asked me to do something like Burning The Midnight Lamp or something, and I thought 'Oh please - how can I possibly do it when it's been done perfect by the master?' So I said 'Can I choose my own track?' and they said ok. So I chose One Rainy Wish because I think it was done really quickly by Jimi Hendrix - it's something he put down in ten minutes, and the lyric, I think, is genuinely a dream. That's the way I hear it. I've written stuff from dreams before, and I think Hendrix had this dream. And you know it sounds like 'Golden rose'? Everybody thinks it's a Golden rose, like a rose made of gold, but there's a little scrap of paper which is in one of the Hendrix biographies, where he's written down his dream, and he says 'Gold and rose, the colour of the dream I had' So I thought, 'That's what it's about', you know, it's about these colours, and it always sends shivers up my spine, ''cos it's so real - it's like he drifts off into his dream, so I wanted to recreate that, and make it a bit more spacey, in the modern way you can do, with production. So I just really enjoyed doing it, and it's a big challenge doing a Hendrix song. Me and Freddie used to listen to Hendrix albums, and sort of go round to the speaker here, and say 'Well..a piece of guitar appears over here, and then it sort of comes over here' You know, all these little secret things that you don't realise at first. And there'd be a bit of backwards guitar and a backwards vocal and if you played your record backwards it would say something different.
All The Way From Memphis
The first proper gig we had as Queen, we supported Mott The Hoople which was a brilliant stroke - the best thing that could possibly have happened to us. We were doing a few small gigs around England, but really not getting incredibly far. I mean, there was a sort of reputation building up, but what we did was go out with Mott The Hoople who had the proper audience already there. You know, they'd worked on their audience, they had it down, and anyone who was into state-of-the-art rock'n'roll at the time would have been there. So they saw us, which was just the best thing that could have happened. I saw Mott The Hoople play this song all round England and all round the States and it was a storm every night. It was something exemplary - to see an audience erupt and react that way to that song. I wish it was still possible to see Mott The Hoople do that. But I'm gonna do it, which is why I put it on the album, ''cos I damn well wanna play that song live. I just love it so much. It's got all the right elements. Ian had it taped - you know, it's got light and shade, changes of pace, it's got suspense, and you think 'When is it coming?' and he'd milk that for all it was worth, and I'm gonna milk it!
I think a lot of people will identify, because to some extent, I think we live in our dreams, and I think there are many people who see a parallel universe for themselves, they think 'If this hadn't happened, I could have been doing this, and I could have been here doing this, I could have been with this person' and I think it's something that occupies quite a bit of our thought a lot of the time. It's secret thoughts, it's things we can't talk about. So I began to think it was an important song, and I thought, in the end, that this is more what the album is about than anything, in a strange way. So it became the theme of the album, which became the title track too. I have this incredible arrogance about me I think - I would always hope that I could write a song which would solve somebodies problem. And occasionally people have written to me and said 'I heard your song and it stopped me from committing suicide' or something, which is fantastic. So I have this little kind of, dream, that I could write a song which would be able to solve peoples problems. There are a lot of problems in life, and terrible situations. But I usually find that I can't do it. I put a little disclaimer on this album actually to say that, you know. I was trying to make this journey, and I hoped that by the time I got to the end of the album, that I would be in this other world, you know another world, and I would made this journey, and I would have got to this other place, and I could tell everybody how I did it, kind of thing. But I didn't really manage it. So the truth of the album is that it's a journey which is still taking place...