Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast

Ep 9 : She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)

January 04, 2021 Season 1 Episode 9
Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast
Ep 9 : She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)
She Makes Me The Cover
Recovering Queen : The Queen Podcast
Ep 9 : She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)
Jan 04, 2021 Season 1 Episode 9

This week Matt tackles another Brian May song,  She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos).   This unusual gem of a track has us guessing, what is the meaning behind the title and the lyrics? We all have a theory.    We look at its relation to the album cover, its place in the Queen cannon in general, the tour they just left, Brian's illness, Mott the Hoople ... amongst lots of other topics.   One thing we agree on this is a Bona Fide Queen Classic.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week Matt tackles another Brian May song,  She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos).   This unusual gem of a track has us guessing, what is the meaning behind the title and the lyrics? We all have a theory.    We look at its relation to the album cover, its place in the Queen cannon in general, the tour they just left, Brian's illness, Mott the Hoople ... amongst lots of other topics.   One thing we agree on this is a Bona Fide Queen Classic.

Matthew Russell  0:05  

Ian Faragher  0:18  
Welcome to recovering Queen, the podcast where we take a queen song, your cover version of a queen song, and then talk about what we've learned about that Queen song The methods and the madness of the greatest band of all time. Queen as if we needed to tell you that. Joining me tonight are Matt and Jay.

Jai Stokes  0:37  

Matthew Russell  0:38  
Good evening.

Ian Faragher  0:40  
So gentlemen. Which Queen delight are we talking about this evening?

Jai Stokes  0:45  
She makes me Yes, she

Matthew Russell  0:46  
makes me

Ian Faragher  0:48  
or to give it its full title. She makes me open brackets Stormtrooper in stilettos. Close brackets.

Matthew Russell  0:55  
Can I say right from the right from the off here. This song? I appreciate loads more during the cover of it. I absolutely love it. I think it's brilliant.

Jai Stokes  1:07  
You can say

Ian Faragher  1:08  
I've always liked it. I've never realised what an oddity is within the Queen catalogue. I think it is utterly unique.

Matthew Russell  1:16  
It is amongst Queen songs for definite

Ian Faragher  1:18  
Yeah, absolutely. Within Queen within the Queen catalogue, it there's nothing to compare it with

Matthew Russell  1:23  
if we ignore all the things things like off stuff like flash, for example. And so besides and stuff like that, in the Queen catalogue of album tracks from major albums. Is there a song that's anywhere near this in terms of its inaccessibility? No,

Ian Faragher  1:42  
I don't think so. And even you know, Queen, one of the most diverse groups and we've talked about that on previous podcasts just how they can do an album of complete diverse stuff and it all sounds like one there's nothing like this track. It's just a complete outlier.

Matthew Russell  1:58  
It absolutely is the track that relates to the album cover itself more than anything else I that that the final section of it that kind of sweaty, claustrophobic sound is the album cover didn't get it. Absolutely

Ian Faragher  2:14  
didn't Brian describe that closing section as New York City nightmare or something? that's what that's what it was going for,

Matthew Russell  2:21  
you know, the siren in it. He recorded that from his hospital bed.

Ian Faragher  2:27  
Oh my God, in a man in America.

Matthew Russell  2:30  
No, in a King's College. I think it was in London, but I didn't realise obviously the American tour had been cut short. So they were promoting seven seas of rye with Mott the Hoople that got cut short because of his hepatitis. Yeah. So that's so that was doing really, really well. And then suddenly, it's like, no, if we got to cancel it, Brian's really ill. So he's obviously rushed back to England, and the other three sort of campout at Rockfield studios in Wales and start working on sheer heart attack with nothing else to do. And Brian's like shitting himself thinking he's going to get the sack, you know, he's got he's got six weeks to recuperate and almost loses his arm. Yeah, apparently very, very ill well as you are with hepatitis, and then turns up to Rockfield to kind of help out, but then instantly gets a duodenal ulcer. So it says do a diurnal also that ends up putting him in, in hospital again. I had no idea about so I think it's I think it's that hospital experiences when he records the the sirens from his hospital bed.

Jai Stokes  3:35  
And is that the nurses that recording that heavy breathing at the end, just as administering whatever medicine that clears up a duodenal ulcer?

Matthew Russell  3:45  
Yeah, God knows certainly

Ian Faragher  3:46  
got that feel about it, hasn't it? I mean, you're right, the cover relating to this track absolutely perfectly. So you do get that kind of out of breath. Horrible closeness to that. And yeah, the heavy breathing and the sirens and I think there's a, there's an underground train sound that's going through it.

Matthew Russell  4:04  
It's and it's and it's a city sound.

Ian Faragher  4:07  
Yeah, and probably stepping forward a little bit before we talk too much about the, you know, how the song is constructed towards the end. All those insane chords, the the playing the same rhythmically playing the same riff, but it goes all over the place doesn't

Jai Stokes  4:23  
it? is quite a hypnotic, hypnotic track is how I always think of it. And I always end up feeling. I'm getting sucked into it. I'm getting sucked into it more and more. And then, I don't know. I'm hypnotised I guess.

Matthew Russell  4:37  
I mean, musically, it kind of goes from that Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd de psychedelia type thing. So it's got that very sort of flowerpower chorus no knows when and then at xyla you know, it's really sort of flowerpower Yeah. But then it goes into that really kind of almost Velvet Underground. And sort of experimental Pink Floyd stuff. It's for me it's quite Pink Floyd deeds. And I can't think of another Queen song, which you could say was Pink Floyd Ed, as well. No,

Jai Stokes  5:10  
absolutely. And yeah, because he gets away with doing that. It's quite a relief in some respects, isn't it? That sort of repetition of the same sort of rhythmic and chord structure. So when it does break into that more melodic Beatles esque Was it the chorus or is in middle eight? I never know.

Matthew Russell  5:29  
Why is it? Yeah, I guess it's a

Ian Faragher  5:30  
weird chorus. Oh, isn't it? Yeah.

Matthew Russell  5:33  
Oh, yeah. I mean, it's, it's, it's a bit it's a weird song structure, but that's fine. But those final chords that over that kind of droning bass, because the harmony guitar just gets left hanging. So it just goes. It's almost like this drone of harmony guitars and the bass just droning through. But yeah, those chords, those acoustic guitar chords, that sort of done in pairs, and I'd never noticed that before until obviously going to play it. So it's just Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing, and they're different chords, time. Like every single it just it's continually progressing and becoming more and more jarring as it goes. Yeah. That's it's like,

Ian Faragher  6:12  
I didn't ever notice before. Because, I mean, it's it's relatively straightforward to play. I mean, the first verse was to D to A or A to D, isn't it? That means very, very simple, then there's, you know that so called chorus, very simple. And then is

Jai Stokes  6:25  
it easier to do the D to A or the A to the D? Or

Ian Faragher  6:30  
a bit? tricky, isn't it because you've got three fingers in a row on that one.

Matthew Russell  6:35  
Whereas the D.

Ian Faragher  6:39  
Space Oh,

Jai Stokes  6:41  
sorry. Sorry. I'm sorry to interrupt your flow there.

Matthew Russell  6:45  
Brian's not the only one playing acoustic guitar on this track now john

Jai Stokes  6:48  

Matthew Russell  6:48  
Oh, is it john Deacon plays acoustic Yeah, cuz and I think it's that's a hangover from the fact that while they're recording it Rockfield. JOHN Deacon is the guitarist in the band. You know, because out of necessity, he's he's sort of, he's doing a lot of the guitar parts while they wait for misfire. Yeah,

Jai Stokes  7:08  
yeah. So they probably thought, or he thought I'll just put a few down. And then it was like, Yes, he's actually very good at guitar. So yeah. And then then Brian is sweating even more. Especially when he gets out the rent special.

Matthew Russell  7:26  
JOHN, yeah, I mean, John's great at rhythm guitar. You know, if you ever want an example of that, the stuff that he does on heartspace he's a much funkier guitarist than Brian is, in terms of I don't think Brian really can do the sort of thing that john does on heartspace. But I wonder why.

Jai Stokes  7:46  
The only influence I can ever remember was the Elvis Costello that he wants quoted, the who whose would his influences have been to get him so fucked up? Well, I

Matthew Russell  7:55  
know, I know him and Freddie were massively into all the Motown stuff and Aretha Franklin and all those kind of things.

Jai Stokes  8:01  
Yeah, she's my favourite basis by far.

Matthew Russell  8:04  
No, but it was no, but it would have been, what's the name K. That the female basis, wouldn't it that did all that Motown stuff that would have been hugely influential that the only bass player I've ever heard john Deacon say as an influence is Chris Grier. Oh, what about Rory Gallagher and the bass player from Rory Gallagher? Yeah. Well, remember,

Jai Stokes  8:25  
way back in time,

Matthew Russell  8:26  
I think God Yeah, you've remembered that for 20 years. I

Jai Stokes  8:28  
have Yeah. Exactly.

Matthew Russell  8:32  
Fine, since the miracle, but okay. How do you feel about the song do you feel as though it's claustrophobic? melancholic? Do you think it's a love song?

Ian Faragher  8:45  
It takes on a deeply uncomfortable journey. I think it's got it's got the, you know, starts off nicely enough, but then obviously turns into the New York nightmare as we've, as we've discussed, overall productions very disorient cating I mean, the drums are unrecognisable as being Roger. Really, the whole productions doesn't sound that much like queen. Some of the lyrics are a little bit odd in that Brian May vein as well.

Matthew Russell  9:15  
For me, I would have thought the most obvious interpretation of this, particularly considering the stormtroopers in stilettos and we should we should point out that bit is pre Star Wars. So stormtroopers refers to German World War One troops, rather than rather than stormtroopers. Is that

Ian Faragher  9:33  
referring to the kind of walking pace of the song that kind of plodding along? Is that what it's referring to? I

Jai Stokes  9:44  
know, I know. No, it isn't. Well, at least I don't think it is because I seem to remember that it was Roger wanted an extra bit of the title. Now he said he was saying I love the song, great song, but I really don't like The title which was just she makes me we need to have something. So it was almost like a throwaway comment. I I might be wrong. Um, I just made that up but I'm sure it was along those lines. But why that particular words? I don't know. Okay.

Matthew Russell  10:13  
Brian May in the other song that he writes for this now I'm here for sheer heart attack. Right writes about a woman called peaches. Who no tea no tourists Lee met in the dungeon club in New York hence the New York nightmare sound. And the dungeon club is exactly where you would expect to find the kind of kinky dressing of a woman a dominatrix wearing wearing German German Army uniform while wearing stilettos. Crikey, I would have thought that that's the most obvious interpretation. Yeah, that's absolutely ties in lyrically. Absolutely. She makes me Yeah, as I lie in her cocoon. I'm scared. I but I'm warm babies. You know, the whole thing is a Disney

Ian Faragher  11:05  
is jealous of

Matthew Russell  11:07  
Massa coaster. Yeah, he's jealous of something about

Ian Faragher  11:10  
something about leaving or as well.

Matthew Russell  11:12  
It's definitely feels as though it's a controlling relationship. So he knows this woman's really bad for him. He's but he loves her. But he knows he has to leave her because she's so bad for him. But he's gonna love us still. When once he's left. I mean, like me, that is the lyric. I mean, I mean, it's like it's, it's not even. It's not even slightly hidden. Yeah, but,

Jai Stokes  11:35  
I mean, is that true? If that's true, then I won't waste any more time. And what's true? well as in it is that what Brian said is the explanation.

Matthew Russell  11:43  
No, no, not at all right. No, no, no, not at all. But I mean, what else? What else to Stormtrooper in stilettos? Me? If it's not,

Ian Faragher  11:51  
I think it's the I think it's the pace of the song. The kind of really plodding really heavy but somehow kind of a little bit late as well.

Jai Stokes  12:02  
Could it be something maybe just like, something a bit of fun for people like people like us? And it could could have been a throwaway

Ian Faragher  12:13  
comment by Friday, couldn't it? You know, oh, you two guys are just like stormtroopers and stilettos, you know, could easily Who knows? Do you know listeners if you know the origin of brackets, stormtroopers in stilettos at close brackets, do write in to the Twitter at recovering cue to let us know.

Matthew Russell  12:32  
Whatever it is, it's claustrophobic, isn't it? What's interesting though, have you noticed how much sheer heart attack is a complete change of gear to Queen to Queen to is like very programme, very fantasy driven. And then suddenly, we've got sheer heart attack, which is all about being in the city and being vulnerable and all those kind of sort of things going on? Nothing like Queen term in those I cannot believe how different those two albums are considering how how close they are.

Ian Faragher  13:06  
overlapping right here as well.

Jai Stokes  13:08  
Yeah, I mean, it's certainly my favourite album. It's got a it's got to be up there, isn't it?

Ian Faragher  13:13  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it's up there.

Matthew Russell  13:15  
Yeah, I mean, it's the it's the first album where they've, they've gone right, let's be slightly grittier, but slightly more commercial at the same time. So they're sort of turning into a bit more of a recognisable rock band, aren't they, including the sort of album cover as well.

Ian Faragher  13:30  
And I think it's probably when they realise that a couple of good smash hit singles is the way to go. They've realised so Freddy just turns it on with Killer Queen and then the the final version of seven seas of rye.

Matthew Russell  13:44  
Yeah, I mean, killer queens. cracking, isn't it?

Jai Stokes  13:46  
Yeah. It's funny though. Because, you know, you'd be talking about it being such a unique song. I mean, it's, I think I've just misinterpreted it all these years. I've just thought that's just a really lovely song. And I think oh, yeah, there's a bit of heavy breathing at the end. But yeah, nothing nothing to see there. That's just a bit of heavy breathing. But yeah, now I think of it it is quite claustrophobic, but I've never ever interpreted it like that when I when I used to,

Ian Faragher  14:11  
but we've done claustrophobic songs before I was fine. Get down make love is kind of got a little bit odd. Very strange, very, very weird. But that that to me cat just fits in that that that kind of Freddy way of writing very unusual, very odd. You know? It's kind of you know, bicycle race type staff. It's it's very odd. But it's the whole package which she makes me you know, the really floaty acoustic guitars the plodding drums, the weird construction, is it a versus a melody as a chorus and then the whole, you know, the ending section, I think, I think unique.

Matthew Russell  14:50  
Yeah. And it's very drawn out. It's unlike queen to sort of remain on one or a couple of ideas. Just

Ian Faragher  14:59  
rolling Now enrolling

Matthew Russell  15:01  
basic Queen like to stick in about 5 billion ideas into the first minute of anything yeah yet this doesn't doesn't doesn't even attempt it it's just like no I'm just gonna go just keep going and go and go and yeah just

Jai Stokes  15:15  
it just feels so right doesn't it because when it when it opens up into the country visitor to the gods it's it's such I don't know to me It almost felt conceptual in the second half and and that there is the release from that song in a way for me is like Ah, okay and then it launches in this massive melody which is really came to isn't it to what's been going on with with with she makes me

Matthew Russell  15:45  
know but lyrically they lyrically they're both about helplessness surely that they have a sort of lyrical theme of in the lap of the gods obviously. And, and this one is utterly is this is this person pinned down by a woman and he's helpless? Is this is in the dungeon you're talking about? Yeah, well, it could be it could be in a sex dungeon, or it could be Oracle.

Jai Stokes  16:13  
Call actually Help me Help me.

Matthew Russell  16:16  
Help me

Jai Stokes  16:17  
by might be looking in through the window down in the basement.

Ian Faragher  16:21  
It's a bit of a convoluted way to ask for help. Isn't it record an album have it released? I think Brian's trying to tell us something here.

Matthew Russell  16:32  
My I'm sticking with my peaches in the dungeon

Jai Stokes  16:35  
is good. We will get out of it what we say I guess. No, but

Matthew Russell  16:39  
it's, uh, it has to the lyrics. The lyrics have to be about, about helplessness. I mean, I mean, that's, I mean, that there is no there is no other interpretation. Some people have said it's about suicide. And in the she is the suicide or the that she is the person causing him to commit suicide. I think that's a little bit over the top myself.

Ian Faragher  17:02  
Yeah, he's always got a strange melancholy or often Husni old Bri with a lot of his songs was discovering more and more this really kind of sad, lonely edge lost kind of edge to a lot of his writing.

Matthew Russell  17:18  
And, and a little bit pathetic, as well as in, you know, like being controlled by that and not being horrible. Brian, that's what he's writing about him. But But yeah, I don't know. It. Some Some have said it's about an overbearing mother as well. That the she is a mother figure. Yeah. And hence the line. I know the day I leave. I'll love her still.

Ian Faragher  17:43  
Huh? Yeah.

Jai Stokes  17:45  
You know, what I really love about it is, is that at the end of the day, you know, Freddie is the majesty when it comes to vocals, obviously. But I don't think it would have worked with Freddie doing this kind of tracking. He's got he's got too much. presence, melody, life. I don't know what it is. But you've works with Brian singing it. And that for me is is such a joy. You know, I think I think maybe we've all said this in the past that we missed the other guy singing on the earlier albums in the later albums and you get you get the shades and what they can all do. And then then it's all so much the better when it comes into lap of the gods for me. Yeah, I love Brian singing on this actually. It's really it's really lovely.

Matthew Russell  18:28  
Yeah, because it's it's fragile, and it's vulnerable. Freddie, Freddie struggles with that, because it's he's not as it's it's powerful and, and commanding. That's right. That's what Freddie does. Well,

Ian Faragher  18:41  
yeah, absolutely. Almost Brian's vocal is almost part of the instrumentation. Is it the weaker voice? Lower in the mix? It's a kind of it's not an energetic performance. I'm not sure you could do an energetic performance of the vocals. And what do you think that is it? Is it really all legato and quite low key when you're singing it? Or do you have to belt it

Matthew Russell  19:02  
out? No, you do have to belt it out. It's, it's without a doubt. His top note that I love is definitely that love is definitely his top note, I reckon that he can sing. And that's why he kind of keeps going to it's like a sort of Chai goes throughout the whole song. So he's definitely going for it in full makes

Ian Faragher  19:23  
it makes it such a strange verse, doesn't it? It's, you know, it's just two notes on that bit. Yeah. Yeah. Very, very shaky. But so there's some incredibly high backing vocals isn't there? She is my love bits, those bits later on, and they get some very, very complex harmonies as well. So I'm guessing Roger must have been drafted in for the super high bits, because some of them are very, very high end.

Matthew Russell  19:52  
It doesn't sound like there's Roger it doesn't because I think that Brian did a lot of this So

Ian Faragher  20:00  
it doesn't sound like the queen. Yeah, the Queen backing vocal thing that they do it sounds like a solo a solo track. So maybe he is doing the falsetto or they did some stupid studio trickery to, you know, he sang it at half speed or something or double speed.

Matthew Russell  20:18  
However they did it. Yeah, I mean that the bit I struggled with was the fact that just like 39 he played his ovation, 12 string. And obviously that gives the song quite a lot of sort of massive that sort of massive acoustics. Absolutely. But I sort of got around that by playing an electric guitar and sort of mixing it in, like

Ian Faragher  20:40  
this projects taught, isn't it that hey, we need to we should have started this project to get a string guitar each. And you also need a 24 fret electric guitar to be able to be able to play a lot of Brian's stuff because have 24 frets, you got to use them. annoyingly, they do. I've come a Cropper a couple of times. Now it's Oh, hang on a minute. I need to go and buy a new guitar to do this song.

Matthew Russell  21:04  
Well, the good thing is I'm normally tuned down either for four semitones. So So those So

Jai Stokes  21:12  
did you have to transpose that one that

Matthew Russell  21:13  
was that was that? No. So I made the mistake of recording it in, in D hit only to find that actually that Brian's got a slightly higher voice than mine. Probably

Ian Faragher  21:23  
one that wouldn't work with different chords. So was it those those opening chords are so distinctive?

Matthew Russell  21:30  
Yeah, cuz I've come unstuck with a couple of those where it's like yeah, they're nice opening chords and it's like yeah, you change you either have to D tune the guitar or come up because we got

Jai Stokes  21:39  
stuck so many times when you you know, especially trying to do a Freddie song and you're five semitones at least down and then all of a sudden the baseline that was nice and they see that Yeah, there's nowhere to go so all of a sudden it's like almost you know, it's too too high really for it doesn't have the same effect. Well, luckily

Ian Faragher  21:56  
I've got a fire for that incredible. Well, I think if if more guitar shops have been open during lockdown, I would have definitely been get buying a 24 foot guitar to go. I've been I've been saved by the situation here.

Jai Stokes  22:10  
You know, Matt, earlier on when you were talking about the tour being cancelled with Mott the Hoople. And Brian went to hospital, I came across a lovely quote that I'd never seen before. And it was from Freddie saying something like supporting Mott the Hoople was the most traumatic I mean as in being the support was the most traumatic experience of his life is brilliant, but

Ian Faragher  22:39  
didn't Mott the Hoople find it quite traumatic as well to have Queen at that time as the support band. I think it it. It wasn't great after the first few, the first few nights when, you know, the support act, every place was packed, and then allegedly, it would possibly thin out a little bit for Mott the Hoople. Certainly later on in the tummy,

Jai Stokes  23:00  
what would what would they do? Would they turn turn down their amps? You're trying? Oh, god,

Ian Faragher  23:05  
I'm not I'm not sure. But you know, they'd had the you know, that big hit, hadn't they all the Young Dudes. So they were, you know, obviously the bigger band but from from what I've read about those tours, it was quite uncomfortable particularly in America

Matthew Russell  23:19  
Queen we're only really promoting seven C's of Riot at that point, weren't they? So it's not like Queen had any sort of big hits? I

Ian Faragher  23:27  
think I think word was going around that they were quite good live. So

Jai Stokes  23:30  
with that, that sort of thing, isn't it that you start the tour in one place and you know, you know, the music industry things? Things can go pretty fast. Really, you know, think you can blow up? Can't you essentially into a big band or just overnight, and obviously you have to put the work in in the first place. But it can happen really quickly. And that must be awful at the start of the tour as for Mott the Hoople, and you've got like Queen coming. Oh, yeah, come on, lads, come on. And then it's like, oh, a Oh my god, they're amazing. It's like their absolute, and then all of a sudden, they're doing loads better than us. God, when he's talking to end I mean, could just imagine

Ian Faragher  24:07  
we've talked about it before, haven't we that you know, the four very strong personalities in the band. So you can only imagine what it must have been like being on tour with them. And then, you know, supposed to be the tour. This is supposed to be the support band, but I imagine they made their presence felt very strongly that it was perhaps the wrong way round, you know, just just speculating, but, you know, from from what, from what we've learned about, you know, the personalities. I think that there's possibly an element of them.

Matthew Russell  24:37  
Freddy definitely did that thing where it's like, you've got to believe you're a star or you won't become one. Yeah.

Jai Stokes  24:44  
Well, what would not the hope will be coming on after what would be the last couple of songs. Do we know what the last couple of songs in the set would have been around that? keep yourself

Matthew Russell  24:50  

Ian Faragher  24:52  
Probably finished with the lap of the gods revisited, wouldn't they? With that huge, great chorus

Jai Stokes  24:58  
with the with the whole crowd, that Crowd singing

Matthew Russell  25:04  
were on all the

Jai Stokes  25:09  
good. Is it good song? It is a good song.

Matthew Russell  25:12  
To be fair Mott the Hoople were really good and they were like a strong band, but Queen must have been extraordinary at that point. Yeah.

Jai Stokes  25:19  
And you know, and this isn't recovering Hoople, is it? No,

Ian Faragher  25:23  
there's an idea for quite

Matthew Russell  25:25  
a few bands to get through before we get to recovering hupo

Jai Stokes  25:32  
just flows as

Matthew Russell  25:33  
I like the name, it's good.

Ian Faragher  25:38  
So don't forget listeners you can get in touch with us on Twitter at recovering queen or on the worldwide web at recovering Queen Koto, UK. Please do get in touch. But here it is. The Brian May illness classic she makes me Stormtrooper in stilettos.

I love
She makes me
She is my heart
She is my love
She is my love

I know
I'm jealous of her
She makes me need
She is my love
She is my love

Who knows who she'll make me
As I lie in her cocoon
And the world will surely heal my ills
I'm warm and terrified
She makes me so

I know the day I leave her
I'll love her still
She is my love
She is my love

Who knows where my dreams will end
I'll follow as they grow
But the world will know how long I'll take
And if I'm very slow she makes me so

She is my love

She is my love

She Makes Me The Cover