Me, in front of Queen tour bus a few years ago
I loved the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But ever since it came out, I hesitate to wear my Queen t-shirt. Before the movie, if I wore a Queen t-shirt, true fans would speak to me about the band I loved so much since I was 12. And I’d have a conversation I’d truly enjoy; especially if fellow Queen fan was a little older than me and saw an earlier version of Queen. Or better yet, when they did the double bill with Mott the Hoople! I’m all ears to hear about that!
These days, when I wear a Queen shirt, it’s no longer about the rock band Queen, but the Hollywood movie about Queen, played by actors.
A typical conversation will go like this:
“You like Queen?”
“Yes, I saw them perform many times! Even with Freddie Mercury!”
“Did you see the movie?”
What’s wrong with that conversation? I share with you that I saw Queen perform with Freddie Mercury and you ask me if I saw the movie? I’m sorry for being a music snob, but this is just not right. A similar conversation happened regarding Elton John a few weeks ago. The song “Rocket Man” came on the radio in a store and a woman in passing said, “I love it!”
I said, “I saw him perform in concert twice. Once in Central Park, 1980; and in the ’90s at Madison Square Garden.”
I should have seen it coming…
“DID YOU SEE THE MOVIE?!”
I quickly walked away to avoid further conversation. YES, YES, YES, I SAW THE MOVIE! I thought to myself. It was a great movie! But why, all of a sudden, is a movie about an artist, played by an actor, more interesting than an live concert with that very artist performing?!
Years ago I was working at a magazine. The vice president was an older gentleman, who happened to see Elvis Presley perform, as a warm-up act to Hank Snow! My mind was blown. I wanted details, details, details! And more details! Can you imagine seeing Elvis Presley as a warm up act?
Now imagine if I was to ask, “Did you see ‘Elvis and Me’?” What a conversation killer, right? Do you see where I’m going with this?
Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve seen many good movies about the lives of musicians, singers, and even criminals. But can I inspire you? Don’t stop at the movie. Instead, explore.
After I saw the movie “Man on the Moon,” I purchased anything I could get my grubby hands on about Andy Kaufman. I didn’t go around talking about the movie for months. I wanted MORE. Much more than a movie could offer. I read books written by people who knew him. I watched all the old “Taxi” shows that he was featured in. I watched Andy Kaufman in action on various television shows.
All this stuff took time to accumulate because back then it wasn’t as easy as it is today with all the internet access. Back then the internet was just taking off. Which brings me to being a young Queen fan and searching for months in the mid-1970s just to find their album Queen II in a record store. There was no Amazon back then.
But that was part of the fun! Digging for stuff about the real thing was cool. And uncovering real truths is cool. Like finding out that the REAL Mr. Arnstein wasn’t quite the charmer he was in “Funny Girl.” Like finding out the real Bonnie Parker wasn’t nearly as hot as Faye Dunaway. Like finding out the real Andy Kaufman was even more crazy than he was portrayed as in “Man on the Moon.” Like finding out the Doors concerts were much more mild than portrayed in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie. In fact, I was told by a person who went to a Doors concert that they were boring.
See, this is why you can’t rely on a movie alone. Movies are often Hollywood-ized. They take snippets of a life and put them into a 2.5 hour film. It’s entertaining, but it’s not the complete picture.
When I read on a Queen Facebook page that a fan saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” over 50 times since it came out last November, I cringed. Why not spend that time exploring the real work of Queen? They have a grand library of studio albums from 1973 to the time of Freddie Mercury’s death. Plus several live albums, videos, and books. My favorite is “Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton. I loved the book so much that I reached out to Jim Hutton, via his publishing company. This was back in the 1990s, before everyone had email. I forgot I wrote the letter and about three weeks later I received a handwritten letter from Jim Hutton himself! The letter was actually a homemade card, featuring his new kitten in a Christmas tree, since he didn’t get to keep any of Freddie’s cats after Freddie passed away.
The takeaway here is, movies are all fine and good. Yes, we all love movies. Even me.
But, don’t stop there. You can start by getting out of the theaters and going to a live show. It’s fun and exciting. Explore more of a band; not just the greatest hits. Take movies with a grain of salt. See it once or twice. If you have to see it again, wait at least a year. In the meantime you can learn more from reading books, watching interviews on You Tube, and purchasing full albums or CDs, not just the songs you like. You might just surprise yourself and say, “Real life is better!”
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261