One of the fascinating things about having a high school sophomore in the house is listening to what he’s listening to.
The sophomore has discovered Queen. He’s started — as you might expect — with “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the rest of “A Night at the Opera.” We heard most of that 1975 album on a trip last Saturday. By the end of the day, I’d had my legal limit of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a while.
It got me to thinking about how we once listened to records.
In the fall of 1975, after “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit FM radio and blew us all away, I went out and bought “A Night at the Opera.” I didn’t have a lot of LPs then, so every new record was one to be played over and over. I read liner notes and lyrics as the LPs played, getting to know every groove.
So it was with “A Night at the Opera,” played night after night during my freshman year of college. It all came back in a rush when the sophomore plugged in his iPod.
There were many such records played over and over, night after night. Eventually, though, something comes along to push them aside. Then one day, they don’t get played at all. They sit in the stacks for years. So it was with “A Night at the Opera,” which I may not have played for 25 years before pulling it out again the other night.
The sophomore inspected that white record jacket with great care, then looked at the iTunes to see what I’d ripped from 36-year-old vinyl that to him is as new as if recorded yesterday. He likes the English dance hall numbers — “Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon,” “Seaside Rendezvous” and “Good Company.” I did, once.
It’s always a bit of a thrill to have the sophomore discover what I once discovered. It’s also a thrill to come along on that journey and rediscover a great song not heard in far too long.
That would be “’39,” Brian May’s tale of time travelers who believe themselves gone for a year and find themselves gone for decades, returning to find friends and family grown old and gone. I love the story. I love the harmonies. I love May’s guitars. Perhaps you will dig it, too.
“’39,” Queen, from “A Night at the Opera,” 1975.
Five years ago this week, I saw Queen with Paul Rodgers. Brian May didn’t play this one that night in Milwaukee. I didn’t miss it. I’d forgotten about it. That is, until the sophomore started playing “A Night at the Opera.”