The British Rock legend Queen is known for their flamboyant songs, live performances, and for one member specifically, his personal life as well. One of Queen’s iconic tracks, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” perfectly summarizes what Queen was about as a band, and also the approach to life the writer of this song had.
None other than the frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury, wrote “Don’t Stop Me Now,” almost most likely based on his attitude towards life. The same idea is apparent in yet another masterpiece he assisted, titled “The Show Must Go On,” much later in his life.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” was released as a single from Queen’s seventh studio album ‘Jazz’ in 1979. The song saw a very good reception since the release and has been a fan-favorite and a frequent mood-lifter during live shows.
The song reached #9 on UK Singles Chart, and only #86 on Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. However, the song reached #8 on US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs Chart also by Billboard. And the song also saw its most sales in the United States with over 3 million copies. In the United Kingdom, the song sold close to 2 million copies.
Brian May of Queen spoke about the song in an interview with Absolute Radio in 2011: “I thought it was a lot of fun, but I did have an undercurrent feeling of, ‘aren’t we talking about danger here,’ because we were worried about Freddie at this point. That feeling lingers, but it’s become almost the most successful Queen track as regards to what people play in their car or at their weddings. It’s become a massive, massive track and an anthem to people who want to be hedonistic. It was kind of a stroke of genius from Freddie.”
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“Don’t Stop Me Now” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Freddie Mercury wanted to live his life to the maximum potential. This might stem from the fact that he was brought up in a very strict family background of Zoroastrianism. After the whole family moving to the United Kingdom and Freddie somehow perceiving his dream to become a singer, he began to see the opportunities this world had–especially for a superstar. All known counts of Freddie’s personal life tell one story–that he partied hard, fueled with booze, drugs, and sex. And “Don’t Stop Me Now” is the perfect summation of this lifestyle.
Despite what the song wanted to convey, Queen, in particular, Freddie Mercury, gave a high priority to showcasing his vocal skills. The slow and angelic intro to “Don’t Stop Me Now,” profoundly veils the hard-hitting Rock anthem to follow.
Freddie Mercury sings about how he wanted to feel all his life: “alive” and “floating around in ecstasy.” And it is easy to get your vision clouded when you truly believe you are having a good time. And it can be even harder to draw a line where things could be getting out of control. But for Freddie, ‘out of control’ was his comfort zone. And he didn’t want anybody telling him to stop his ways.
Throughout the song, Freddie Mercury brings in metaphors to describe his lifestyle.
A ‘shooting star’ is a rare natural phenomenon in the night sky that steals the attention of the whole world. Freddie Mercury was the same, in his personal life, and during his live concerts. He stole the show, every time!
The lyric “Like a tiger defying / The laws of gravity” is the fact that being a member of the cat family, they have amazing skills of jumping. Tigers are able to make jumps into incredible heights which might seem like they are defying gravity. When it comes to Freddie’s life, he was flying high, so high that eventually he was burnt down. In 1991, Freddie Mercury passed away due to complications arising from AIDS. He was diagnosed in 1987, only a few years after the release of “Don’t Stop Me Now” itself.
I’m a racing car passing
By like Lady Godiva
The above lyric is a tribute to the story of Lady Godiva, an English noblewoman who was known to ride horses through the streets naked. The specific reason Freddie Mercury opted to use her as an example is likely because of the erotic nature of the lore. Also, ‘racing car’ and ‘riding a horse’ also have some similarities with the speedy lifestyle of Freddie Mercury.
The lyric “There’s no stopping me” was also quite factual according to people around Freddie. The rest of the Queen members and Freddie’s one true love, Mary Austin, were some of the many people who tried to slow down Freddie. They saw that Freddie was running on a crash course. But being the stubborn boy he is, Freddie could not be stopped.
In these lyrics, Freddie Mercury piles up on the idea that he was cruising through life at high speed. And the speed causes him to ‘warm up’ he thought. But in fact, it was actually burning him up.
In three repetitions of the pre-chorus, the final lines “I wanna make a supersonic / Man outta you” change back and forth to “I wanna make a supersonic / Woman of you.” This shift between ‘man’ and ‘woman’ is a genius reference to Freddie’s bisexual nature.
Watch Queen Perform “Don’t Stop Me Now” Live in 1979
The chorus of the song is dedicated to emphasizing the fact that Freddie is having the time of his life, and he asks everyone around him not to stop him. Maybe his party life was an escape from the voids of his love life. Although Freddie’s life came to a screeching halt at the age of 45, fueled through the actions that these lyrics speak of, ironically, these are the same lyrics that fuel the crowds at Queen concerts, or even at home!
More speed and high-flying metaphors follow. He compares himself to a rocket ship headed to Mars. But ironically he calls the rocket ship is on a “collision course.” Maybe Freddie did know that his lifestyle was not sustainable. But still, he didn’t want to change because he was having so much fun, escaping his reality.
All the ‘flying’ references throughout the song could also be nods to the effects of drugs on the human body. They are known to make you feel like you are flying through the sky.
I’m a sex machine ready to reload
This line ties up with the erotic ways of the flamboyant lifestyle and parties he had. Brian May talked about Freddie’s lifestyle with Mojo after his passing; “taking lots of drugs and having sex with lots of men.”
The entire premise of “Don’t Stop Me Now” could also largely be applied to the Queen band itself. By the time of this song, Queen was becoming a major sensation all over the world. They were getting recognized, booked for gigs, and money was flowing in. They were at the height of their stardom, and still cruising up. It was a well-known fact that Freddie Mercury was at the helm of Queen’s success–being a writer, lead vocalist, and the creative genius behind what set Queen apart from every other band out there. So, it might be natural for him to consider that he cannot stop for the sake of the band.
And fair enough, after Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, the band almost broke up. John Deacon, the bass guitarist of the band, retired in 1997 after paying tribute in their first original since Freddie’s death “No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young).” And the band has not released an original album since 1995, which also mostly contained vocals recorded by Freddie prior to his passing. However, Brian May and Roger Taylor still keep the legacy of Queen alive by touring along with Adam Lambert as the lead vocalist.
Much like the story of “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, “Don’ Stop Me Now” by Queen has an eerily tragic story in hindsight.
What do you think about this song by Queen? Let us hear in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.