I remember the first time I heard Bohemian Rhapsody. It was presented to me on a mix tape made by my older brother. It was the first song on side one, so there was no way I could avoid it. Not that I wanted to. After that first listen, let the tape roll. I listened to the rest of side one. I flipped it over and listened to side two. There were a lot of gems: some Elton John, a great chunk of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, music that was brand new to my thirteen year old ears.
But it was that song on side one that brought me back. Over and over again. I hit the stop button. Rewind. Play. For every time I listened to the rest of that tape, I listened to Bohemian Rhapsody three times. The harmonies, the piano intro, the guitar solo, the bombast. Six minutes. Who made pop songs that were six minutes long?
Didn't matter. Not to me. Not back then. I would have been happy to hear the nine minute version. Twelve. No worries. I could just rewind and play it again. Eventually, of course, I had my very own copy of the vinyl album from whence the single came, A Night At The Opera. Yes, there were other amazing sounds to be heard on this record. Love songs to cars and others, stylistically all over the map. Which were wonderful and pleasant but nothing approached the sonic mysteries of the first Queen song I ever heard.
Forty-five years later, I still reach for the volume knob when I hear Freddie Mercury lament the share of sand kicked in his face. I turn it up. A lot of other songs have joined the list of songs that I turn up as a matter of course. Born To Run. Limelight. Sabotage. And others. But this was the first. And when the smoke clears and the gong sounds, I'm ready to press rewind and do it all over again. For another six minutes. For another forty-five years.