If the seventies and eighties were formative years in your life then you will be heading off to the movies. Perhaps for a second or third time? I am of course referring to the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, that is currently on circuit. I also went to see it recently. The experience (because it is) rekindled intense memories. Personally I loved the movie. My wife and I have chatted about it a lot these past few days. It has given us a little shake up.
With hindsight comes perfect clarity they say. Well, somewhat clearer anyway. After spending a few days mulling over this movie, the old times and what the heck it all means anyway, I have an answer. It is so painfully simple.
Nostalgia is a Gut Punch
When my wife excitedly told me that the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, is showing I was not enthusiastic. Partly because I am a bit of an old git, but mostly because I have not listened to Queen for years. I have been busy and life moves on. However my youngest son is a big fan of Queen. He clearly has a deeper understanding of art and taste than I give most teens credit for these days. So I went along and watched the movie. I did not expect to be thrown into such an emotional time warp though.
I loved the movie. Bearing in mind I have not properly listened to Queen’s music in about twenty five years I still knew the songs off by heart. It was like all of that time disappeared and boy, nostalgia is a bastard. Back in the early eighties when “I was just a skinny lad” in high school I would listen to the Queen tapes on my boom box. Dreaming, singing along. Some air guitar featured too.
Discovering What Matters
Back then many of the lyrics did not have the poignancy that later years would bring to them. Understandable as life teaches us many hard lessons. But still Queen spoke to anyone who felt they were left standing on the sidelines. This clearly comes across in the movie. The members of Queen were these nerdy fellows on the sidelines. Music was the light that would put them centre stage.
Surprisingly, a few days after watching the movie, I realised how down in the dumps I was feeling. All this thinking about the loss of Freddy Mercury to the world of music. Not to mention many other stars gone too soon. What is the point of it all? Is there meaning to life or is it, to quote the title song, a case of “nothing really matters”?
I cannot help thinking about other great artists over time. Mozart, Van Gogh and of course Freddy Mercury. All difficult people at times. All prodigious talents. All destined to shine like the sun before burning out too soon. But what a legacy!
This is Our Last Chance
In the movie Freddy Mercury says that he wants it all. To reach the pinnacle. He did not want to fail and, together with his stunning talent and caring band-mates, he did achieve greatness. Don’t we all have a burning desire to be noticed? Some of us act on that impulse and reach fame. Hopefully finding the answers without losing too much in the bargain.
Watching the movie you wish that the inevitable sacrifice can be avoided. "Stop the madness and pull yourself together!" you want to scream at Freddy. Look out ... please!
But it is all too late. We can only watch and grieve a little. But more importantly what can we learn from these spectacular people? That we are still human and frail? Certainly. That life is despairingly short? Yes it is. We cannot waste a moment.
But above all else is this. What Queen was telling us. Life is about love and giving. Freddy Mercury was by no means a perfect person. Nobody is. But he yearned for acceptance and love and in turn he, and the rest of the band, showed us in their songs what life is all about. The transformative power within us all. Create your art, share it with the world and underline it all with unconditional love.
That is it really. Our purpose is to give with loving hearts. Your talent is your gift to the world. Together with your love for family and friends. Truth and kindness.
Difficult? Yes it is because the other part of our ego demands all the attention and kudos. This conflict within is projected into the world and is the reason for so much unhappiness.
The answer is there, but will we take the last chance to make things right? Listen to the lyrics in the song Under Pressure written and performed by Queen and David Bowie. It is all there in what is surely one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
So as the world stumbles on and history keeps repeating itself let us take heart. We all have the power to transform our lives. As a few skinny lads so eloquently demonstrated when they formed a little band called Queen. Then went on to become legends.
Take nothing for granted,
Keep creating and giving with love.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa