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If You Walk The Path...

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If you walk the path, eventually you must arrive.

Brian May doesn't believe in coincidences. There are actions that beget equal and opposite reactions, and that is all. Whether someone is AWARE of the action is not, in fact, the point--one can only work with what one has been given.

He had worked with Tim and Roger in Smile, for example--had been intensely committed to the project that was their band, as committed as ever he was to gaining knowledge of the cosmos. And when Tim introduced them to a friend, Freddie, who Roger took an instant liking to, and that friend stayed with them as a constant, even moving into a flat with Rog (and then Brian as well) after Tim went his way with Humpy Bong and, so he thought, to greener pastures...well Brian counted himself lucky.

Brian moved in with Roger and Freddie because they offered him a place and he accepted. It was a year til the three realised what they had together--in voices and instruments--to create their own band. And they then took a plunge to hire, through auditions, an acceptable bassist. They hit the jackpot when the one they found was exemplary, a nineteen-year-old electrical engineering student named John Deacon. (After three earlier attempts that did not pan out.)

Choices. Actions and reactions.

Quitting his doctoral thesis on interplanetary dust in the middle to focus on his band--now called Queen--begot a vehement reaction that reached further than any so far in his life up to that point. Brian's father had been supportive of his music when seeing it as a hobby that his son had grown dedicated to and invested in, but never expected Brian to throw away his education in favour of something so elusive, uncertain, and nebulous as a career.

Due to that his father did not speak to Brian for nearly seven years. Another reaction.

Now Queen is on tour after making album after album, another and another; fighting over every aspect as often as not. Brian knows that he is maddening. He is a perfectionist who foists complex lyrical progressions on all of his bandmates, as well as himself, in each of their songs. He would nit and pick out a rip-roaring guitar solo for himself to jump into Freddie's grooving-in-the-club sound or around John's steady bassline; dancing over Roger's drumbeat.

His fingers fly across the strings and he feels like he is soaring on the notes, but his continual reaction to himself is that none of his work is good enough. It is only Fred's exultant "Perfect! That was brilliant, darling!", Roger's open-mouthed awe and intensity hearing the licks as he rattled his drums, and John's soft nods and smiles along to the breadth of his work that gives Brian assurance and joy. Despite the ire of feeling neglected in some album areas or specific tracks, and reacting badly by storming from the studio or composing a song that outlines their fury, Brian knows these acts occur only because they all four care about the work and each other, and so worry what the others think.

Brian is happiest when he is playing his guitar on stage with Freddie beside him and Roger at his back, John holding down the fort with his bass and with poignant, hard-hitting words:

Spread your little wings and fly away, fly away, far away--pull yourself together 'cause you know you could do better, that's because you're a free man....

Brian reacts to that fact; he does not feel free. Certainly he has fewer limits imposed upon him as part of Queen when he is making music. But out in the world, with the press he secures his polite, genteel, and in some cases erudite mask to talk about the band.

First and foremost, he tells the press the truth; at times reacts as well, as when Queen's publicist put out a wild cock-and-bull story that Brian lost his guitar during a tour. People went absolutely batty about it, agonising over the whereabouts of the Red Special when in reality she never left Brian's side. He never lost her.

Brian told the publicist not to distort the truth like that again. "Truth has to be represented completely," he said. "I don't hold with lying."

And he and Roger held to that credo; (it almost became a mantra, really) on Freddie's behalf. "We feel bound to stick up for him because he cannot stick up for himself anymore," Roger said on-air a week after Fred departed the Earth. Brian wishes he had been the one to say it. He knows that his reaction after Rog's words was borne from mulish anger, resentment that he had not been the one to say them; despite his own plea to raise AIDS awareness. But he loves Rogie, he does; as much as he loves Freddie. And John, though he made that difficult, leaving as he did.

Action: Freddie died. Reaction: John left the band.

He didn't quit, exactly. Not in so many words. He came to the studio three years after they lost Freddie to put together Made In Heaven, and he had done the 'No One but You' video with them, and that was all. That was it. "I can't do it anymore," John said. "I'm going home. Without Freddie, there's no Queen."

But he wants us to remember, John. What about continuing his legacy? Brian wanted to ask, and eventually managed to. John, not in so many words, told him to piss off. He was too hurt, broken without Fred. He wanted to be with his family.

Brian understood that; he did. But he could not stop. He tried, honest to God he had tried, wanted to end things, put Queen away like he could put a book back on the shelf; wished he could stop thinking and reminiscing about what the four of them accomplished together. It was too painful. It has been for years. But his only reaction to stuffing away was that the memories came back tenfold. A hundredfold. In thoughts, in tributes, in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' bringing the house down during any karaoke night wherein it was introduced. He can HEAR Freddie telling him, "Get off your arse and do something about us and our legacy, darling. You mustn't let the world forget!"

So Brian had listened. Mostly he reacted because of Roger. Roger, who still called every week to check in and chat. Who'd been singing 'Radio GaGa' by himself at a show once and told Brian about the audience members who did the video clap: "It was only three of them, Brian, but it was still bloody something!" Roger, who supported him, who'd been his cheering section when Bri decided to finally finish his thesis.

Roger was the first to congratulate Brian on his doctorate, and then promptly began giving him shite about it and for waiting so long to tell the world all about interplanetary dust. "...What is the point of interplanetary dust, anyway? Does it tell us that there's aliens? I don't care unless there's aliens." Dear Roger, who then erupted "What's the big deal about space? You're already a rock star, mate!" Wearing that brilliant cheeky grin of his; ready and willing to rile Brian up even though he's totally aware of how much Space means to him.

But the world means something else to Brian. They are important down here--this planet may be nothing more than a pale blue dot third from an unremarkable medium-sized yellow star, but Queen has touched people with the power of its music. And music itself was created upon this planet in the midst of the vacuum of Space. They had accomplished something--he, Freddie, Roger, and John--something special that can still be shared. Something magnificent that not one of the four of them could have done alone. They'd been lightning in a bottle, and that lightning illuminates the way along the path ahead; the one they now walk. He, Roger, and John, wherever he is now--and Miami Beach, and Mary Austin, and everybody else who has ever been connected to or had their lives touched by Queen, along with countless others who have not discovered them yet.

Theirs is a legacy worth continuing, an action worth reacting to; a path down which Brian May feels privileged and humbled to walk.