Saturday, January 19, 2008

Thirty Nine

It is a big day, so please forgive a short personal diversion. My excuse is that today is the half-birthday of a true inspiration, definitely my favourite guitarist and quite probably my favourite musician of all time. Of course I refer to Dr Brian May.

According to the editor of the rocksnobs website, quoting his exact words including the original emphasis: "Always and forever, my favorite Brian May composition is '39. As far as A Night At The Opera goes, '39 is the sparkling jewel."

Exactly my sentiment. It is certainly my favourite track on the album too. Yet it is a statement of surprising contrariness when you remember that a little tune called Bohemian Rhapsody is also on there.

It is often difficult to explain why any particular song has special meaning to any particular person. This really is a case of art rather than science. Most of the music in '39 is a simple folk skiffle, but there is a magnificent soaring time-shifting instrumental in the centre of it that really makes it special.

Matching the melody, the lyrics are simple and heartfelt too. The BBC H2G2 site has a rather childish oversimplification of them, but on this one day of the year when I forsake marketing analysis for personal indulgence, allow me to finish by quoting the traveller from the song: Oh so many years have gone, though I'm older than a year. For my life still ahead, pity me.

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