Sunday, September 27, 2015

Reviving the Past

I am a Queen/Freddie Mercury fan. Since I first heard Freddie's voice during the last year or two,  I became mesmerized by his vocals. Later, I purchased a video or two of Queen during various performances and I instantly knew the Mercury's performances were part of the reasons for Queen's success. He was the kind of showman that kept his audiences in mind, and who made sure each member of the audience felt a connection to him. (These are comments made by Brian May and music critics of the era during which Mercury performed. In addition, many songs are anthems which are remembered for occasions when they're called for. My favorite of these are We Are the Champions, and Deacon's We're Going to Rock you. Or that could be May's song.) What can focusing on the work of a deceased singer/songwriter/performer teach us? This is a question I have about all the historical events such as WWII or the Cold War etc. 

I  tried teaching the importance of knowing one's and other's histories. Young people are vastly self confident in their futures without looking back at histories. Yet looking back and studying biographies would teach people that they are not alone in feeling shiftless without a goal that would bring success to them, however, they define success.

Beatles and Presley are equally beloved by me and others for many reasons. Queen is mostly about fun as are the Beatles. However, as Beatles broke up the attention to social issues grew for them in different ways. John Lennon became more involved with social issues that are still associated with him."Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" are forever connected with Lennon and these ideas are sorely needed by society because we are constantly looking for ways to get into more wars. Korean, Vietnam, Cold War, the two Iraq Wars and others in the Middle Eastern part of our Earth.

Brian May's contributions to social issues came in the form of "Is This the World We've Created." I do not know who among them wrote "Under Pressure" which is a song I love, but it's obviously a song about humanity taking care of itself--brother to brother. The idea that teaches us most about Mercury is Mercury's idea of loving and enjoying what one does. Otherwise, he once said if I stop enjoying what I do; it is time to stop and do other work that satisfies my idea of fun. 

Mercury was great at taking chances. His performance in Rio once had an audience in rebellion as he came out in drag. He also took chances with music he wrote and I especially appreciate his work with Monserrat Caballe a Barcelonian opera soprano. The collaboration came toward the end of Mercury's public careers. The CD Barcelonia is a tour de force combining rock, gospel, and opera. Brilliant is a word for the work. It also was taking a chance instead of doing the usual rock and roll.

Doing what one loves is an idea I often taught because I believe that we become callous and thoughtless about other people if we are miserable at the jobs we do. 

Presley was not a song writer although he re-arranged many of the songs he sang. I especially like his "In the Ghetto" because it discussed the truth of poor people's lives. I can imagine that baby crying. Furthermore, Presley could convey emotions without the tackiness of making a sound in his throat to evoke tears or crying as Mercury did when singing "Is This the World We Created" as their special request following all performers of Live Aid 1985.  

Looking at these people from the past who succeeded at what they did is a good exercise in learning for our futures.  Presley did not take the chances Mercury took although he is still revered by those who lived during his time. Mercury is picking up followers among the young for many reasons.I think Brian May's insistence of keeping Queen going helps, for a digitalized video of Mercury appears sometime during each concert. Love of My Life a song reputedly written for Mary Austin is the song May uses for those moments. 

So taking chances, following your heart and doing what you love are the two main lessons along with perseverance. Without those elements success can come slowly if at all.

To be honest, many philosophers and people I've studied such as Joseph Campbell taught these concepts during the time Mercury lived. The thing is that I did not know about Mercury were, his struggles at boarding schools, his feelings of abandonment, and his eventual decision to "follow your bliss" as Campbell would say. Some valuable lessons can be learned best through the biographies and performances of people in the arts. I prefer listening to the music of the artists but reading their biographies enriches enjoyment of their works.This is especially true when we learn how the composers arrived at their God given goals.



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