Over the past month, we’ve run a hugely successful contest in which readers of the magazine could enter to win one of five autographed sets of astronomical stereo cards, along with an OWL stereo viewer, signed by Queen guitarist, Ph.D. astrophysicist, and Astronomy magazine Editorial Advisory Board member Brian May.
We asked readers to write a 200-word essay on their favorite Queen song, establishing what it means to them and why. We received quite a few great entries, and the judging was tough. There were plenty of calls for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Killer Queen.” In the end, though, I chose some essays that mostly steered clear of the biggest hits, as that’s where some of the most intriguing comments lay.
The winners are: Michael Wells of Henrico, Virginia, for his essay on “Play the Game;” Guillermo Abramson of Bariloche, Argentina, for his essay on “’39;” Nancy Archer of Davis, California, for her essay on “Somebody to Love;” Sem Geden of Manningtree, Essex, England, for his essay on “Mother Love;” and Larry Russo of Clark, New Jersey, for his essay on “Radio Ga Ga.”
“The phrase ‘This is your life; don’t play hard to get,’ is not just about romance,” penned Wells, writing of “Play the Game.” “I believe they are trying to say something along the lines of, ‘take a chance in life and do what you want. You may not get another chance.’ ”
In his essay on “’39,” Abramson writes of the concluding verse, “ ‘Your mother’s eyes in your eyes cry to me.’ Never got that verse. Now it’s clear: The Volunteer meets her grownup granddaughter, tears in her eyes that resemble her mother’s. A sad note, perhaps her mother’s dead by now. A century had passed! They traveled far away in space, but also traveled in time. They left a world, a life, behind.”
In her story on “Somebody to Love,” Archer states: “Along with the personal message, the song itself has such a massive sound. The beginning piano section gives me a thrill. The vocal depth, due to the rich harmonies, then give the song such a classic Queen feel, and I love that so much.”
In his piece, Geden writes of “Mother Love,” describing it as “the last song Freddie ever sang and perhaps Queen’s most poignant song. In it, Freddie directly addresses his imminent death and sounds worn down, while paradoxically having a slight resilience to himself in the tone of his voice. The song is ambient and self-aware . . . with beautiful courage.”
With “Radio Ga Ga,” Russo was entranced by the accompanying video, which depicts a nostalgic look back set against a Fritz Lang, Metropolis-inspired journey. The members of Queen “sail through the movie on a flying car spreading the word of ‘old- time stars’ and ‘invaders from Mars’ . . . how totally ironic and artistically wonderful . . . it blows my mind every time!”
You can read the full winning essays here.
And please check out the London Stereoscopic Co. website, where you can find out how to buy Brian’s two sets of astronomical stereo cards, others sets showing classic images of Queen, and products such as Brian’s new book Diableries (by Brian May, Denis Pellerin, and Paula Fleming), a fascinating study of stereo views of 19th-century images of hell!
Check out the site here: www.londonstereo.com.