Queen - '39 (1975)

Queen's Brian May is the World's premier rock 'n roll astrophysicist and it's a sure bet he'll always hold that distinction.

In a band with a lead singer as flamboyant as Freddie Mercury it's also a good bet May will always take a back seat to the late, flamboyant star. However, one should never discount his contributions to the quartet. May's lead guitar work was integral to their success and he also was a composer of note. Among his credits are "We Will Rock You," Fat Bottomed Girls," and "'39."

May has always had a huge interest in astrophysics and he finally earned his PhD in the field after putting his degree on hold a long time ago to devote his attention full time to Queen. His thesis, "A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud" was finally completed in 2008. If you understand what that means you're a lot smarter than me.

In 1975 May combined his two primary interests to compose a song for his group's most famous album, A Night At The Opera. Side One, track five of the original vinyl LP was '39, a song that isn't readily recognizable as Queen to many people because it features May on one of his rare lead vocals instead of Mercury who only sang backup.

I'll let Wikipedia explain the lyrics to this very upbeat, melodic and fun track because I can't.
"The song tells the tale of a group of space explorers who embark on what is, from their perspective, a year-long voyage. Upon their return, however, they realize that a hundred years have passed, because of the time dilation effect in Einstein's special theory of relativity, and the loved ones they left behind are now all dead or aged."
As a joke May asked Queen's bassist, John Deacon, to play double bass on the song but Deacon, apparently thinking May was serious, learned the instrument quickly and used it on the record.

The album is named after one of The Marx Brothers most famous comedies. Groucho Marks was thrilled, so just a few months before his death, he invited Queen to his home where they serenaded him with an a cappella version of "'39."

The tune became a fan favorite in concert and was often performed as a singalong.


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