Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast

Ep 8 : I'm Going Slightly Mad

December 28, 2020 I Am 7 Season 1 Episode 8
Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast
Ep 8 : I'm Going Slightly Mad
Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast
Ep 8 : I'm Going Slightly Mad
Dec 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 8
I Am 7

This week Jai tackles one of Freddie's last songs, the second single from Innuendo.    Written by Freddie Mercury but credited to Queen, and probably uncredited lyrical contributions by Peter Straker.  The lyrics are humorous but poignant,  dealing with mental decline while suffering from illness.

Show Notes Transcript

This week Jai tackles one of Freddie's last songs, the second single from Innuendo.    Written by Freddie Mercury but credited to Queen, and probably uncredited lyrical contributions by Peter Straker.  The lyrics are humorous but poignant,  dealing with mental decline while suffering from illness.

Ian Faragher  0:27  
Welcome to recovering Queen, the podcast where we take a well known and not so well known Queen song, do a cover version of it, and then talk about what we found out about the methods and the madness of the greatest band that has ever been. Queen. My name is Erin and with me as ever, RJ

Matthew Russell  0:44  
and Matt Good evening, no,

Unknown Speaker  0:46  

Ian Faragher  0:47  
And what song are we doing this evening? I'm

Matthew Russell  0:50  
going slightly mad. No, but What song are we doing?

Ian Faragher  0:55  
I'm going slightly mad from Queen's album innuendo.

Matthew Russell  0:58  
I almost want to call it queens final album, but it's not quite as it sort of is.

Ian Faragher  1:03  
In my mind. innuendo is the final to me.

Matthew Russell  1:07  
Well, it's Freddie, isn't it? I suppose Freddie's final? I mean, I suppose you did the vocals or you did other bits Sydney for the made in heaven. But yeah, this is this is the Freddie's final album while he was alive, isn't it? Really? Yeah, he wouldn't. I don't know how much time you would have had on made in heaven. Do you know where the the album? title innuendo comes from? Freddie came up with it. But why?

Ian Faragher  1:31  
No, that's a good bit of Queen knowledge. No, I don't know.

Matthew Russell  1:34  
Is it from carrot carry on Friday? No, it's not from carry on Friday. It's because he which worked what what famous board game did he like to play on tour? fluido. No. monopoly really famous for scramble. That's one Scrabble. How Scrabble Of course, yeah, Scrabble. So he Yeah, so innuendo is one that he used all the time. Apparently, he liked putting innuendo down as a Scrabble word. I can imagine Freddy doing them. Yeah, apparently. Yeah, he loved a good Scrabble game,

Ian Faragher  2:06  
so I'm going slightly mad could have only been written by Freddy out of the group. It's of Freddy's fantastic wimzie songs sits in exactly the same Venn diagram as seaside rendezvous lazing on a Sunday afternoon. I would place it firmly in that camp

Matthew Russell  2:23  
Yeah, it's it's funny because this school of wimzie never used to be released as a single did it you know it's not like no, I suppose the closest is good old fashioned good old fashioned ever boys but but that's that's such a great tune there's just you know that's outrageously good song

Ian Faragher  2:40  
Yeah, that's on the edge of the wimzie as well as it's almost crossing over into the out and out pops off Yeah,

Matthew Russell  2:47  
I mean it's it's no coward isn't it? I mean, no coward is the person that is most famous for this kind of whimsical song particularly this one lyrically is very no coward, isn't it? They're trying to he's trying to come up with witty one liners. Now. here's here's a question for you. Who do you think wrote the lyrics to? I'm going slightly mad?

Ian Faragher  3:08  
Well, the way you've asked it that makes me think that it's not forever. It's

Matthew Russell  3:12  
Peter striker. And Fred, isn't it? That's right. Well, is it? Is it Yeah, because I've read other ones where all all Queen members were involved in trying to come up with witty one liners. But yeah, the Jim Hutton biography said that it was he went to bed with the laughter of Peter Stryker and Freddy coming up with the lines for I'm going slightly mad at garden house or garden Lodge.

Ian Faragher  3:36  
I mean, the lyrics are great. They're one of those dare we say, rare Queen songs where the lyrics are of critical importance to this. Yeah,

Matthew Russell  3:44  
I mean, it would be absolutely Well, I mean, it is only really the lyrics that are in the song, isn't it? That that there isn't really a song other than the lyrics? Because it there's not really any kind of harmonic structure to the song. In fact, actually, Jay, that's a really good point, when you put together this version of it, did you find that I'd say so first of all, I did the full full version. And I did find it a little bit cloudy. I mean, that's my version of it. I kind of felt that there was a lot more in the song than the production allowed it to be that makes sense. And I was sort of thinking about some of the early songs live millionaires well, and I was thinking it would be lovely to hear it done or you know something a bit more interesting on the rhythm just to compliment the lyrics I suppose. But I mean, my take on it was started it I find it quite a painful song if I'm honest. It actually does upset me because it is Freddie nice. Final his final video i think is it is funny video.

Ian Faragher  4:42  
A second from last year?

Matthew Russell  4:45  
Yes, you can certainly see he's, he's in very poor health at that time. I mean, the song itself is about his failing mental health. And you know, it is wonderful that as Freddie you would expect him to do. He puts he puts a show on he's not going to like Lau the fact that he's dying of AIDS to not put on a show and so he is still whimsical and but for me watching it, I find it so upsetting. I couldn't really cope with the whimsical version because it just upset me too much. So that's why the version I did was a little bit darker, because it sort of reflected how I felt on it. Well, I mean, obviously that's not had Queen wanted it to be done to that was a slightly personal take on it. But yeah, does that answer. Yeah, no, that's a really nice answer. I mean, that the video actually does an interesting article about the video and the symbology that's not right symbolism is no no. So the symbolism that's within the video is all about rebirth and mental illness. So you've got the screw losing your screw, you know, and all those kind of things and the kettle boiling over on his head. But there's other references to rebirth and things like that the fact that the Justice hat turns into into colour and there's a kind of Phoenix tail near the end and things like that. So there's weird bits of symbolic symbolism. But I mean, again, it's like who actually comes up with that? Is that the video directors or is it or is it Freddie

Ian Faragher  6:10  
and I think in many ways, the original version as well. It's slightly drab. I think that the production the arrangement is very pedestrian it kind of it plods along yet you've got this fantastic imagery and the lyrics and the video as well. Well, again, it's

Matthew Russell  6:24  
not it's not it's not played is it and it's I think it's really dated as well like the core game one, which I think is the synth that they use is you know, it was the most ubiquitous synth ever.

Ian Faragher  6:35  
It reminded me of some early Depeche Mode since I was thinking wow, Depeche Mode. We're using synth sounds like that in you know, what, late 70s,

Unknown Speaker  6:42  
early 80s

Matthew Russell  6:43  
I mean, it's I guess it was sounded like a weird synth when they played it, but now it just it seems like a preset, doesn't it? And I guess that that production doesn't necessarily age very well. Yeah. And it also sort of just saps the song of energy. I find when you just put layer or these sorts of synth, you know, layers or chords or whatever you want to call them, it just saps it. I think it would be better without them. I'd love to hear it. I'd love to hear with piano, you know freely on a piano and just the band doing drums and bass and Brian's guitar. That'd be amazing to hear that.

Ian Faragher  7:17  
Yeah. Well, the bass is. That's quite an interesting line. And Brian's guitar solo is like nothing else he ever did.

Matthew Russell  7:24  
Yeah, I think john and Brian have actually, I think that there is something touching in both of their performances in the fact that they're obviously trying really hard to make it good. So it's like yeah, Brian's has spent some time coming up with a startling solo. The second half of it with the sound is brilliant. I mean, you know, what's annoying for me is I've done this so low, but yeah, the soloed just doesn't fit with the style that I've done. So it's really annoying. I almost wanted to do it right at the end, just in a sort of echo II sorta jacket, the overreach hotel sort of waffling on the breeze at the end, really just so that to show that I'd learned the so like, it's so good. JOHN deacons bass playing is extraordinary. It's amazing, isn't it? Yeah. Hi. Hi. I must have like, you know, john, and Roger and Brian felt during that video. I mean, you know, they must have known at that point that Freddie hadn't got long, long left to live it must have been. But you know, your your Freddie wants to put on this show, and must have been really difficult. I would have thought,

Ian Faragher  8:25  
thinking about another year to go when that video was shot, I think oh, okay, sir.

Matthew Russell  8:30  
Okay, weirdly when they were writing the song, so there's actually a studio date. And it's around about that time that Freddie does his last two public appearances. While they're actually recording, I'm going slightly mad. They were in the BPI awards is what they did for one at the Dominion theatre. And that's Freddie's last public appearance on the telly. That's it. And that and that is at the 20th anniversary of Queen. So that is their 20th anniversary. Sunday, the 18th of February 1990 is what they I mean, I remember that clearly. I'm coming on stage and thinking. I don't even know if I knew that he was ill at that point. I was like, hang on what's going on here? Yeah, he was shocking. Yeah, that sort of that they're still promoting the miracle at that point, aren't they? Yeah. Must be the tail end. Yeah. tail end of the miracle and but they're back in the stupid but john Deakins written to the fan club to tell them that they're back in the studio. And he says we're writing this wacky single. And then Freddie sends a copy called totally bonkers to the to the fan club. Have you heard that? Yeah, I heard that is just. Again, I find it really upsetting. I don't know what you thought. No, I did. I yeah. No, I I really get what you're saying about the fact that that Yeah, in retrospect, it is a little bit upsetting, isn't it? It is it is sad to see this really kind of muscular, powerful man reduced to reduce to Like almost a little bit simpering, I mean, I guess yeah, I mean it feels to me that he's putting he's putting in that effort on that totally bonkers version ease is for the fans, isn't it and he wants to do something for the fans and he's it's almost like pretending isn't it? It's pretending everything's okay and everything's fine. And there's such a nobility in that and I think what not was it all worth it was the one I always get confused with. I always miss show must go on the show show must go on. You know that's that embodies Freddie to a tee doesn't it? That show will you know has to go on? And you can hear in everything. But when you know, it's like, oh, I mean. Yeah, I'm probably misinterpreting or interpreting it in hindsight, as you say, but I wonder what people thought at the time. Probably just thought it was funny.

Ian Faragher  10:51  
Yeah, well, it fitted in as we said before it fitted in in the the fredi Venn diagram. You know, it's a typical album track written by Freddie very wacky, very unusual, but we we've always loved him for it. Yeah.

Matthew Russell  11:05  
And where did it get to? Was that that was a minor hit. Yeah. When he Yeah, it was. Yeah, there's a little bit minor. I mean, first single innuendo. Like we said last week that went to number one, but was immediately knocked off the number one spot by KLM.

Ian Faragher  11:20  
I imagined Queen singles or they went they went to number one in the first week and outsold everything else like about four to one because all the Queen fans would just buy everything up and then a queen fan wouldn't buy it in the second week with no J. Can I ask did you have to transpose it? Because the thing that struck me about the song listening to it recently was how low it sounded. Now, we've been caught out this in the past with Freddie sounding like you're singing low, but on this one, I genuinely think he is singing quiet.

Matthew Russell  11:48  
I'm going to have a guess it's it is the lowest Freddie vocal performance on any Queen's studio album. Yeah, well, I didn't transpose it. It was as low it's low. And I think I think it was indeed a while ago now I've done it. I don't think I did though. Very unusual for a Freddie song. But as you say, it's really low. I mean, there's no real vocal gymnastics gymnastics on it you know, there's there's a little bit of in the chorus and there's a little bit of a lift but not like the the Freddie goalscoring punch the air Freddie glory, but

Ian Faragher  12:19  
I did like your interpretation of this one, Jay, I think the the three four really, I mean, I couldn't believe how well the lyric scan for staff, particularly at the chorus that worked exceptionally well. And also it afforded it a real tribute field to the likes of you know, cabaret and laser mentally type stuff in the musical stuff, which I genuinely think Freddie would have liked. Yeah,

Matthew Russell  12:39  
I think it's very theatrical. It's very Peter Stryker actually

Ian Faragher  12:43  
also put me in mind with it with a few less bells and whistles, but it put me in mind for the benefit of Mr. kite, you know, from South Africa. It's that that very much that kind of feel had a real sense again, you know, using the word too much wimzie had a real sense of whimsy about it and I really liked the guitar playing you put in the acoustic guitar the real comedic element to it yet you sang it really straight?

Matthew Russell  13:08  
Yeah, well, I didn't change it straight. To start with I sang I did sing a more wimzie version. And it was Matt was notice that I sing it a bit straighter, no one can is going to be able to pull off what's Freddie's doing on that sort of thing? So maybe it was better to do it just much straighter because he's got so much character in both embodies every single line. It's like a story in every single phrasing that he uses. I don't think it'd be really hard to reproduce that

Ian Faragher  13:30  
less was definitely more because you could have gone down the real musical showtune type thing and really hammed it up, but I think in in not doing that you brought out the song, and it just adds to the the weirdness of the overall effect.

Matthew Russell  13:45  
And the other thing, the other thing that I was sort of thinking about whilst doing it was see I've always loved Mr. Bad Guy. As you know, God knows about Yeah, I was gonna say that, that I think it does. I think it you've made it. So it's like, it could be the bookend to Mr. Bad Guy. The song. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So I was thinking when I started doing it, if only I could get some really clever orchestral work that he's got on the start of that album, which is quite weird. Really, when you think about the rest of the of the it's turning out on dude, it starts off with this for me really lovely orchestration with the real instrumentation, which I really love. So there was a little bit of that going on. I wonder Yeah, about fusing those two different things. I don't know that album was so difficult, isn't it? It was,

Unknown Speaker  14:28  
I think, do

Matthew Russell  14:28  
we all have problems with that album and trying to pick a

Ian Faragher  14:31  
vendor? Yeah, yeah, well, I deliberately picked rather wild wind because I thought it was like so terrible

Matthew Russell  14:37  
Yeah. Oh, God we've said we've already done one off innuendo we just got we just got we just got my cover up headlong. The back

Ian Faragher  14:47  
Oh, there you go. Listen, to listen to exclusive headlong is on its way in a future podcast. I'm going slightly mad I have to admit never really inspired me but again listening to it now in you know in retrospect As the years have gone by, and then hearing your version of it j which does definitely give it another angle, which I believe Freddie would have liked, it's it has made me appreciate it a great deal more particularly reading the lyrics concentrating on those gotta hand it to Queen there it is it is a quality song.

Matthew Russell  15:17  
I mean, that's what we've learned, isn't it? I mean, this is a recurring idea now, isn't it? We take a song that we're not quite sure about that. And it turns out it did they do a bad song. That's why I'm coming to the conclusion. Well,

Ian Faragher  15:30  
we'll find out after the next 200 songs.

Matthew Russell  15:39  
He was in a gorilla suit.

Unknown Speaker  15:41  

Matthew Russell  15:42  
that's a good that's a good one. I don't know who was in the gorilla suit.

Ian Faragher  15:47  
Bob Geldof

Matthew Russell  15:48  
is good. And it's not right. Oh, a big friend of Freddie or a small friend of Freddie actually elton john.

Ian Faragher  15:55  
Yes, elton john is Charlie. No, he

Matthew Russell  15:57  
can't be john and john, is there is no way that is elton john.

Ian Faragher  16:06  
Well, maybe the listeners know who was officially in the gorilla suit. In the video of Queens. I'm going slightly mad was it elton john? Bob Geldof or Phil Collins

Matthew Russell  16:20  
but it was Freddie's personal assistant Peter Freestone

Ian Faragher  16:24  
that kind of makes more sense which is what they want you to think that you see Matt This is how they get you

so we've been having a semi semi regular feature from now on on the podcast doing our shoutouts to our queen fans and and friends out there and I thought what might be fun as if we gain a gave this section like an official name you know some kind of pawn on but I've been thinking all week and everything for a nice snappy title about you know, something to do with friends and some I try to get it into like you know if it was if this was James Taylor podcast you might do and this is our we've got a friend section but I mean thinking and thinking and I don't know friends will rock you or something. I don't know if we get semi just something I don't know guys, what's your thing? Anyway, so you know, maybe the listeners can write in and get some suggestions for a snappy title for this section because we got nothing between us. Anyway, so it was nice to hear from Shane Shane MacDonald on Shane's Queen page who said some lovely things about the tracks you've been doing and he also he did send us his version of you take my breath away with him playing piano and JJ midnight singing and to be honest, anyone that tackles that song hats off beautiful version. So it's definitely worth digging out that other people doing Queen covers as well. Peter camp wrote in to us, which was very nice of him to do so. And we had our first suggestion of a cover coming in from Eddie loiselle or lasal with that suggested we do hang man

Matthew Russell  17:59  
Yeah, hang man that is a that is obscure. That one is I don't think we're gonna get anything much more obscure I believe. I believe that was a Freddy song from his band wreckage as it may be called,

Ian Faragher  18:13  
anyway, thanks for getting in touch guys and anyone else that's been in touch and been re tweeting us or liking liking what we're doing so don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and tell your queen fan friends and if you've got a suggestion for this section, then then please write in

Matthew Russell  18:28  
so without any further ado, here is I'm going slightly mad

When the outside temperature rises
And the meaning is, oh, so clear
One thousand and one yellow daffodils
Begin to dance in front of you, oh, dear

Are they trying to tell you something?
You're missing that one final screw
You're simply not in the pink, my dear
To be honest, you haven't got a clue

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened, happened
It finally happened, oh-oh
It finally happened, I'm slightly mad
Oh, dear

I'm one card short of a full deck
I'm not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck
I'm not at my usual top billing

I'm coming down with a fever
I'm really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over
I think I'm a banana tree
Oh, dear

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened, happened
It finally happened, uh-huh
It finally happened, I'm slightly mad
Oh, dear

I'm knitting with only one needle
Unraveling fast, it's true
I'm driving only three wheels these days
But, my dear, how about you?

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened
It finally happened, oh, yes
It finally happened, I'm slightly mad
Just very slightly mad
And there you have it