1972 David Bowie promo single with three 1971 songs on it: “Life On Mars” from Hunky Dory, “Moonage Daydream” was a 1971 single, and Bowie started performing “It Ain’t Easy” in concert in 1971 – the latter two of course reworked during the 1971 sessions for Ziggy Stardust.
This fantastic Brian Ward photo of the pre-makeup Ziggy 1.0 was also used as the cover for the 1972 reissue of The Man Who Sold The World,with the 1971 “dress” cover not restored until 1990.
(The picture sleeve released in Yugoslavia in case you were wondering.)
John Deacon. That fluffy fella third from the left, seen at Ridge Farm in 1975, where the band was working on A Night At The Opera.
Here’s another of him, via discodeaky(whose outstounding blog, these days known as @doktordyper, you should definitely get to know if you don’t).
He didn’t just play bass, though. When he happened upon a Wurlitzer electric piano (the Wurlitzer EP-200, NOT a Fender Rhodes as if often misidentified; they actually sound nothing alike), he asked Fred about it, who scoffed. “I refuse to play the damn thing. It’s tinny and horrible and I don’t like them. Why play those things when you’ve got a lovely superb grand piano?”
John’s response? “I took it home and I started to learn on the electric piano and basically that’s the song that came out, you know, when I was learning to play piano.“
The song we’re talking about is “You’re My Best Friend.” The first song he wrote when he was teaching himself to play the electric piano.
And since Freddie refused to play the Wurlitzer, JOHN played the piano on the record that we know and love.
He also layed down a righteous bassline (not at the same time, mind you), and the fact is, as often as we talk about John writing this really terrific song (the second single from the album), I almost never hear anyone talking about how well he PLAYED on it, too.
So, from the 40th anniversary re-release of A Night At The Opera, here’s the backing track for “You’re My Best Friend”. It includes some lovely vocals and some of Brian May’s sweetest guitar work (5 layers of rhythm, plus the lead, running through the legendary Deacy Amp, designed and built by John in 1972 and finally released commercially in 2010 – you can buy it online, at deacyamp.com!), but this stripped down version allows you to really hear what John was doing on piano and bass.
TURN IT UP.
Freddie conceded that John was able to get a distinctive sound out of the Wurlitzer, but he was still having none of it. Not only did he ONLY play it on a grand piano in concert, in the official video release, we do indeed see Deacy at the piano, but it’s a GRAND PIANO, and NOT a Wurlitzer!!! Seriously, Fred was having NONE of it.
Whatever, man. It’s a heckuva track. Maximum Deacy, and don’t you forget it.
And in fairness to Fred’s dislike for the Wurlitzer, he slays this song vocally. The 1975 black nail polish look is also killer.
By the way, John played keyboards on other tracks (notably “Another One Bites The Dust”), as well as guitar now and again (especially on his own songs for Hot Space), and really, that’s his story in Queen. Doing what he has to, and doin’ just fine, thanks for asking.
American Pie, by Don McLean, released November, 1971.
Funny thing about this one: the single version is longer than the album version! The album version runs 8:33, but that was too long to fit on one side of a single in 1971. Instead, it’s split into sections of 4:11 (A-side) and 4:31 (B-side), to allow a little overlap when turning the record over.
It’s understandable that people bring up “American Pie” when the anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper (JP Richardson) comes around every Feb. 3, because that’s where the song starts. After that, though, it goes further into America, politics, religion, fantasy, reality, dreams, and more. As Don McLean said on his website:
Metaphorically the song continues to evolve to the present time. It is not a nostalgia song. American Pie changes as America itself is changing.
…but tumblr folks should also note two things.
1) Don McLean was a huge fan of Buddy Holly in high-school, and had no idea why the rest of the kids in his school didn’t get it. They didn’t even care when Buddy died.
I mean, I went to school and mentioned it and they said, ‘So what?’ So I carried this yearning and longing, if you will, this weird sadness that would overtake me…
2) Maybe it was more than just “weird sadness.” Don has talked about wrestling with depression – which of course is different than being sad. “American Pie” was a huge hit, but that only made things worse.
The success I got with ‘American Pie’ really threw me off. It just shattered my lifestyle and made me quite neurotic and extremely petulant. I was really prickly for a long time.
If the things you’re doing aren’t increasing your energy and awareness and clarity and enjoyment, then you feel as though you’re moving blindly. That’s what happened to me. I seemed to be in a place where nothing felt like anything, and nothing meant anything.
Literally nothing mattered. It was very hard for me to wake up in the morning and decide why it was I wanted to get up.
This really is one of the most amazing pop songs ever recorded, for so many more reasons than most people ever talk about.