Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Weldon Owen/Blink Publishing, 2017)

Karakter: 5.5/6

Somebody to Love cover.jpgThis outstanding book on the legendary Freddie Mercury and the genius of Queen by the skilled authors that are Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne tutned out to be one of those riveting page-turners that yours truly could hardly put down once he had started devouring its pages and absorbing its content. As the subtitle of the book perfectly states, it primarily focuses on the life, death, and legacy of Mr. Mercury in all its aspects, but it is about much more than the forever-fascinating and throught-provoking existence of the aforementioned artist; it is also about the majestic and pioneering work of Queen and how they have helped shape the modern musical (and cultural) landscape. With Mercury at the helm, Queen turned into a larger-than-life entity that still reigns supreme as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. "Somebody to Love" discusses and reflects on Mercury's personal triumphs and defeats, the creative highs and lows, the interpersonal relationships with the other members of Queen, his upbringing, the countless partners that came and went, his dreams and hopes, and the awful disease that struck him down in the prime of his life. No stone is left unturned as Richards and Langthorne unravel the mysteries that are Mercury and Queen. Focused, disciplined, and concisely written, this 440-page gem leaves very little to be desired and is undoubtedly the the most compelling and convincing one on Mercury and Queen that I have come across yet.

The structure and composition of this excellent piece of literature is superb in the sense that three different narratives have been woven together in a near-flawless manner. There is the story of Freddie Mercury himself, the one about the birth and inspired career of Queen, and the incredibly tragic one revolving around the genesis and eventual spread of the HIV virus and AIDS. All three events (for lack of a better term) are inextricavly linked and connected, but there is something amazing about the way in which the authors of this particular book manage to balance those three and show exactly where they intersect and, more importantly, how and why they all belong within the same sphere. Needless to say, there is a strong focus on the songs and albums by Queen and what Mercury's role within that band was and what he contributed and so on and so forth, but also about his sexuality and the things that he chose to hide from the world back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Can you imagine the inner conflicts and turmoil that he must have suffered during the political and social climate of those decades? It is utterly moving to read about Mercury's life-long search for true love and the inherent loneliness of being a world-renowned super star that would capture the imagination of thousands of fans in a jam-packed stadium and yet be missing something as vital and important as deep-seated love and affection in his private life away from the stage. "Somebody to Love" also touches on Mercury's wild and somewhat reckless years, his many indulgences, escapades, and whatnot, but there is style and class to the way in which it is written and at no point does it turn into one of those stereotypical rock 'n' roll biographies that are (sadly) all about sex, drugs, and...well, rock rock 'n' roll. This is a magnificent and incredibly well-written book that sheds a new light on the enduring myth that is Freddie Mercury without any of the usual sensationalistic bullshit that nearly always creeps in whenever the talk revolves around the aforementioned artist and Queen. Richards and Langthorne have done a most commendable and impressive job that others could certainly learn from and it goes without saying that "Somebody to Love" is a must-have if you want to gain a deeper understanding of how Mercury and Queen took the world by storm and why they continue to inspire us and enrich our lives.

Packed with details and loaded with great photos, "Somebody to Love" is the perfect read and celebration of a brilliant artist, a hugely talented band, and a glorious musical kegacy that continues to resonate with us. This is inspirational literature and an immersive journey encompassing the excitement, turbulence, and unpredictabality of the 70s and 80s music scene. Then again, it also explores and discusses the dark and sinister movements of the HIV virus from 1908 up until the early 90s with an emphasis on how it exploded in the 80s and affected not just the gay clubs and scenes in the UK and US, but also the world at large and how the leaders and politicians reacted and addressed the issue (or in some cases failed to do so). "Somebody to Love" is mandatory reading for any fan of Mercury and/or Queen, but like I said, it is about so much more than that.


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