Monday, December 1, 2008

Under Pressure by David Bowie & Queen

To my future child,

It’s dad, I am writing to you before you are born. Right now, you are but a dream in the hearts of your mom and I and though we don’t plan to have you enter our lives for a couple years we are looking forward to sharing our lives with you. There is so much I want to share with you and right now, I want to tell you about a man and song that dares us to love.

Freddie Mercury was lead singer of a rock band named Queen from Great Britain. Many consider him one of the greatest rock singers of all time with his large range, powerful delivery and operatic style. He died young when he was 45 years old of AIDs complications in 1991 and was one of the first celebrities to succumb to this disease.

Freddie Mercury dedicated his life to entertaining people with his over the top theatrics, rock anthems and intimate reflections on love and life. Even though, I never met the man, I feel that through his art, I know him and no other song embodies the spirit of this beautiful human being like “Under Pressure.”

Queen recorded “Under Pressure” with David Bowie in 1981. “Under Pressure” is a unique song that does not follow the form of an ordinary rock song, but instead has a slow build to a majestic rock climax as only Queen can do.

The song begins with a simple bass line with background guitar lines to fill out the harmony, which accompany Freddie’s scatting. Scatting is a style of singing innovated by Louis Armstrong to imitate musical instruments with the voice using nonsense syllables. Mercury utilizes this technique throughout the entire piece showing the versatility of his voice as not only a melodic tool but also a rhythmic and supporting voice.

In the beginning of the song David Bowie (the lower voice) and Freddie sing about how the pressure tears people apart and the terror of watching people feel trapped. Then at two minutes into the song, things get quiet. Pulling everything back, Queen creates anticipation and space for the musical climax. Freddie sings about our reaction to the pain around us.

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
but it's so slashed and torn.

He is telling us how sometimes love lets us down and we pull into ourselves in order to prevent from being hurt. The organ in the background brings us to church with a feeling on confessions and shame and then Freddie asks “why.” This question rises higher and higher as the band builds, disappearing into the climax as we are asked a daring questions.

Why can't we give love one more chance?
'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.

Love is hard. It seems cliché sometimes, and it forces us to change. True love is not about caring about the people we agree with but the people at the edge of our lives who do things that we do not understand. If you truly accept differences in people through love, it changes you and you care about yourself through a heart, deeper and richer for accepting others into it.

This song warns us in the end that this is our last dance. Pressure keeps us from each other, from taking a chance to love. That pressure is misunderstanding, which leads to fear and sometimes develops into hatred.

When Freddie Mercury died, some still knew AIDs as the “Gay Plague” because it hit the homosexual community in the 1980s with a devastating effect. Some people went so far as to say that AIDs was God’s punishment to homosexuals for “choosing” to be Gay. The fear of this disease led to the misunderstanding and hatred that overshadowed over the compassion people should always carry for each other.

Now, we are approaching the end of 2008, people understand AIDs as a disease that effects all of us but there is still no cure. More people accept homosexuality, as part of our culture however many believe that being homosexual is a sinful choice that runs contrary to their morals. Is this because people still hate each other and refuse to reach out and love the people at the edge of the night?

People who believe that homosexuals are sinners, sometimes forget to love the sinner while they disagree with the sin. In addition, homosexuals sometimes forget to love people who though may misunderstand them, regardless of how they treat them.

A holy book does not guide my moral. I cannot give you proof from a text that tells you whether homosexuality is choice or whether being loving someone of your own gender is sinful. What I have to go on is your Aunt Jen. Now, Aunt Jen isn’t one of your biological aunts but she is someone your mom and I love so much that she has become as close as any other of our biological family members.

I met Aunt Jen her freshmen year of college and we quickly became friends. About two years later, she told that she was bisexual. This didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but Jen’s openness and honesty has shown me the love that we all share. Aunt Jen is one of most beautiful people I have ever met in my life. In the years that I have known her, she has never done anything that I would call truly sinful or evil. What I’ve seen in her with her girlfriends is the same love that I feel for your mother, for her and for you. How can I say that loving someone of his or her gender is a sin when it is a part of your Aunt Jen, someone whose goodness I truly believe in and whose love I share?

I hope when you have children that you can tell them a different ending to this story. When you tell your children about Freddie Mercury, I hope AIDs is thought of a vaccine that you have to take when you are young as opposed to horrific and heartbreaking disease. I hope that you can tell kids about a time when people judged others humanity on their sexuality and they react with disbelief because the world has moved passed this.

During the wedding ceremony of your mother and we had reading from the bible, and in this reading Jesus spoke to his disciples and said “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Loving others is perhaps the hardest thing in life to do, but it is also the most rewarding.

Our life is our last dance and our love is our last chance.

Thanks in advance for beauty and love that you will bring to not only to our lives but also to everyone that you touch.

I can’t wait to meet you.



  1. That was truly beautiful.
    "Our life is our last dance and our love is our last chance." Thank you.