Saturday, August 27, 2011
Posted by B.man at 8/27/2011 10:02:00 PM
Posted by B.man at 8/27/2011 05:37:00 PM
Posted by B.man at 8/27/2011 11:06:00 AM
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Roy Thomas Baker must have thought Freddie Mercury was completely mad when he brought him the song that would eventually be the single for Queen’s 1975 album, A Night at the Opera. Baker told the BBC that Mercury sat down at the piano and played him the gorgeous, tragic opening and then stopped abruptly and said, “And this is where the opera section comes in!”
And indeed, the “opera section” helped make “Bohemian Rhapsody” unlike anything ever recorded. When the band convened (on this date in 1975), they were given a song in three basic movements: an opening ballad, a comic-tragic operatic middle and a thunderous rock ending.
“‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was totally insane,” Baker later told MIX, “But we enjoyed every minute of it. It was basically a joke, but a successful joke. [Laughs] We had to record it in three separate units. We did the whole beginning bit, then the whole middle bit and then the whole end. It was complete madness. The middle part started off being just a couple of seconds, but Freddie kept coming in with more ‘Galileos’ and we kept on adding to the opera section, and it just got bigger and bigger. We never stopped laughing.”
Brian May recalled in Q, “I remember Freddie coming in with loads of bits of paper from his dad’s work, like Post-it notes, and pounding on the piano. He played the piano like most people play the drums. And this song he had was full of gaps where he explained that something operatic would happen here and so on. He’d worked out the harmonies in his head.”
For their part, Mercury, May and Roger Taylor spent 10 to 12 hours a day recording 180 separate vocal overdubs at a total of five different recording studios. The result was a three-man choir of angels and demons battling for a “poor boy’s” soul. Because they were bouncing tracks and editing with razor blade splices, the tapes nearly didn’t hold. Fortunately, they just did. The result was the most expensive single ever recorded at the time.
All the energy and money the band put into the recording clearly paid off. The song went to #1 on the U.K. charts, despite its nearly six-minute running time, and stayed there for nine weeks. The song reached #9 in the U.S., and then hit #2 16 years later, after a Wayne’s World re-release. The song also charted again in the U.K. after Mercury’s death, climbing once more to #1. The track remains one of the most requested on rock radio and a testament to one of the great singers – and bands – in the history of rock.