Queen's 1989 album "The Miracle" was the group's first since Freddie Mercury's diagnosis of AIDS. It was the band's 13th studio album.

When feeling down, remember “The Miracle” that’s available to you

Look, I’m going to be straight with you: So far, 2017 hasn’t been much better than 2016 was.

There have been a number of decisions made by the executive branch of the U.S. government that are troublesome. And the job I had lined up has been slow in getting me details on starting. Socially, politically and fiscally, 2017 has already been a challenge. That can certainly color one’s perspective, right?

I don’t mean to complain. Many folks have it far, far worse. And I think about those poor souls, too. We have many challenges coming our way. There will be a lot of bumps, bruises and tears coming. Many sleepless nights. We can hope for the best, but it’d be wise to follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

The motto of The Boy Scouts of America is
The motto of The Boy Scouts of America is “be prepared.”

Preparation can mean vigilance. It can mean protest. It can mean education. It can mean … well, anything. Preparation can vary from person to person, interest to interest, cause to cause.

It also can mean looking for bright sides. It can mean finding the things in life that make the struggles worthwhile.

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The sleeve to The Beatles' single "Can't Buy Me Love" b/w "You Can't Do That," released in March 1964. Courtesy of www.thebeatles.com

B-side the point: Looking at the (superior?) flip sides of singles

When I look at my favorite bands and artists across the years, I recognize the many great singles they’ve released.

These singles are the songs released that gave them the radio hits, prompted tours, helped sell albums, etc.

More often than not, artists from at least the mid 1950s through the early 1990s would release singles where the “A” side was the attempt at a hit, the strongest candidate, the song the artists or producers or record companies thought were the strongest efforts. The flip sides, the “B” sides, would sometimes be filler, or live versions, or songs from older albums. In general, this was content that didn’t have a lot of thought put into it.

Obviously, this isn’t 100 percent true for every single or every artist. Plenty of artists put out killer singles that were great on both sides. Heck, The Beatles and The Beach Boys often put out great double-sided hits (like “Penny Lane” / “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” / “God Only Knows,” for example).

This got me to thinking not just about the hit singles, or the singles that had hit B-sides, but also about singles where I actually prefer the B-side over the A-side of the single. That has happened for many of my favorite acts with some regularity.

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Queen "On Air"

Queen, and the pleasure of listening to music

Some music has a purity of energy, a clear tonal quality that can pluck images from your mind, or pluck the heartstrings, or remind you of youthful fantasies. This music gives flight to your imagination, and you feel like maybe anything can be possible after all.

I grew up with Queen in the house. My folks had the albums “A Night at the Opera” and “News of the World,” so we were blessed to hear “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Love of My Life,” “’39,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Spread Your Wings” and “It’s Late” on a regular basis.

Despite all of that, It wasn’t until the early 1990s that I started to dig into the band’s albums and develop my fandom.

Continue reading “Queen, and the pleasure of listening to music”