When thinking about the British Rock band Queen often one member of the four out-shadows the rest. Yes, you are already thinking about him; none other than one of the greatest entertainers of the music industry–Freddie Mercury. More often than not Freddie Mercury stole the show as the lead vocalist and the frontman of the band. But no one was complaining! When Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, Queen went into a hiatus. It was a devastating experience for the fans of Queen and the members of the band even more so. The remaining three members of the band, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Johan Deacon, paid tribute to Freddie Mercury on “No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young)” several years later.
“No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young)” is the only song recorded by the three members of Queen, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Johan Deacon, after the passing of Freddie Mercury in 1991. The song was released as a single from the album ‘Queen Rocks’ in January 1998. And this is one track that highlights the talent of the rest of the Queen members which was often shadowed by Freddie Mercury.
On this track, Brian May performs lead vocals on first and third verses, backing vocals, piano, and electric guitar, Roger Taylor also contributes to lead vocals on the second verse, backing vocals, and drums and John Deacon performs the bass guitar.
Although, “No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young)” is a tribute to late Freddie Mercury, the thought behind the song is universal. The song tributes to all those who have passed away way too soon.
The artwork for “No-one But You (Only the Good Die Young)” shows a man flying close to the Sun and getting burnt. This captures the story of Icarus (Greek mythology), who attempted to fly close to the Sun with wings made of wax. The story gave birth to the idiom “don’t fly too close to the Sun.”
Freddie Mercury was a star beyond his time. His lyrics prowess, vocal skills, and amazing entertainer on stage. From his clothing to stage presence to the ability to spellbind the audience elevated Freddie and Queen band to the top of the world. However, with this success also came the pitfalls of stardom. Freddie Mercury was also known for this raving parties in his mansions, which included a quick list of sexual partners in Freddie’s quest for love. Freddie Mercury passed away at the age of 45 on November 24, 1991, due to complications arising from AIDS.
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“No-one But You (Only the Good Die Young)” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Brian May wrote the lyrics to the song and it is quite clear that even after six years since Freddie’s death, the remaining members of Queen were not done grieving over him. In this mellow Rock tune, Queen pays tribute to their late frontman who is in heaven now.
The start of the song and the first verse references the signature pose by Freddie Mercury; fisted right hand held high, head down, and a solid foot stance. The same pose is sculpted in Montreux, Switzerland, facing Lake Geneva. This is also the same place where Mercury recorded his final vocals in 1991. This statue facing the lake is what Brian May writes down as;
A hand above the water
An angel reachin’ for the sky
Brian May asks if it is raining in Heaven, a question directed at Freddie Mercury. This insinuates that Freddie Mercury is residing in Heaven since his passing. ‘Rain’ implies sorrow and a dull mood. Maybe, even Heaven is sad that Freddie had to leave the world.
The passing of Freddie Mercury left a permanent mark in the music world. The saddened souls were never meant to be healed save for the music by Queen such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Under Pressure,” “Love of My Life,” “Killer Queen,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Somebody to Love,” and the list goes on. But Brian May sings that their music is failing to do the job without the skills and soul of Freddie Mercury.
In the chorus of the song, Brian May brings in the idiom of ‘flying too close to the Sun.’ The idiom infers that one should not be overconfident and always know your limits. However, this idiom might not be perfectly applicable to the life of Freddie Mercury. But, Freddie did fly close to the Sun and survived. He pushed his and Queen’s limits to the maximum potential. He burnt away through his own acts of recklessness in his personal life. Born Farrokh Bulsara, he changed his name to Freddie Mercury to add to the theatrics. Mercury is also the closest planet to the Sun, which adds further depth to this reference.
Brian May and the rest of Queen tries to move on with their lives after the passing of their friend and colleague. But their lives will never be the same.
In the second verse of the song, Roger Taylor performs the vocals. In these lyrics, Roger Taylor, too, adds to the mourn of Brian May in the previous verses. Even after six years since Freddie’s passing, these friends have found it quite hard to move on. They call it “another tricky situation.”
This verse also tributes to the struggles Freddie had to go through to become who he was. Born to an average Parsi family in western India, the Bulsara family migrated to England looking for better opportunities. Freddie had to outgrow the shackles of his family to pursue his dream as a singer. His biggest accomplishment was coming out to the world as gay in an era where the word ‘gay’ was only talked in hushed tones. But Freddie was defiant, he “found a way through.”
Brian May takes over the vocals for the third and final verse of “No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young).” Again, the remaining Queen members confirm how they are forever haunted by the memories of their friend Freddie. They pour one more drink to drown their sorrow and to the memory of Freddie.
The line “And now the party must be over” hits hard to any Queen fan. While Freddie Mercury was known for his extravagant party lifestyle, their live shows were nothing short of festivities. And for Brian May to sing that the party might be over, is almost them confirming that Queen is done for. In fact, John Deacon retired from Queen shortly after this song was released. However, Brian May still keeps the legacy of Queen alive to-date.
In the solemn outro of the song, Brian May weeps for his fallen friend. And he is not alone…
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.
Rest In Peace, Freddie Mercury!