"The Show Must Go On", written primarily by guitarist Brian May, is a song by English rock band Queen and is featured as the twelfth and final track on their 1991 album Innuendo. As on the previous album, The Miracle, all songs on Innuendo were credited to the band as a whole. The initial idea for the song came from a chord sequence Roger Taylor and John Deacon were working on. May then decided to use the sequence, and both he and Freddie Mercury decided the theme of the lyrics and wrote the first verse together. From then on May finished the lyrics, did the vocal melody and wrote the bridge.
The song chronicles the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life. The title is derived from the phrase "the show must go on", and may be in reaction to the numerous press speculations about lead singer Mercury's critically declining health since the late 1980s. Much of the lyrics and imagery of the song can also be construed to be a reflection on life and imminent death. It is regarded as one of Queen's most emotive, powerful songs by many fans.
Brian May remembers that Freddie could hardly walk when the band recorded the song in 1990. "I said, 'Fred, I don't know if this is going to be possible to sing,' " May says. "And he went, 'I'll fucking do it, darling' — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal."
It was released as a single in the United Kingdom on October 14, 1991 in promotion for the Greatest Hits 2 Album, just six weeks before Mercury died. Following Mercury's death in November 1991, the song re-entered the British charts and spent longer in the top 75 than it did on its original release, eventually reaching a peak of 16. A live version with Elton John on vocals appeared on Queen's Greatest Hits III album.
The song was chosen as the favorite funeral song in a survey conducted in Europe.
Interviews with Queen:
May discussed how the song came to be, in a 1994 interview.
"'The Show Must Go On' came from Roger and John playing the sequence, and I started to put things down. At the beginning, it was just this chord sequence, but I had this strange feeling that it could be somehow important, and I got very impassioned and went and beavered away at it. I sat down with Freddie, and we decided what the theme should be and wrote the first verse.
The clip Queen — The Show Must Go on can be downloaded for free and without registration.
|arena rock, symphonic rock