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  • Writer's pictureD. Kamm

Legends are Legends for a reason.

I have been working on the Queen/Bowie song "Under Pressure" for a project I am doing. I wanted to find out what the song was ACTUALLY written about figuring the story must be out there since the song was a #1 hit and has been on so many subsequent albums... Well - I was correct - there is a LOT of information about the inception, recording, and subsequent success of this one particular song. Of course, like most kids of the 80's I never really gave it much thought. It was a song I heard on the radio... over and over again. The end. Now as an adult, singer, songwriter, musician, and teacher I listen to this song very differently.

I'll give you the quick back story, but I highly recommend you Google “Under Pressure” and read every link that comes up on the first page. It's worth it. Here's my super fast summary:

Legends are legends for a reason.

This song was not planned. Queen and Bowie happened to be recording at the same place/same time and decided to take a break from their respective schedules to jam other people songs for fun. 24 hours later they had this song written, performed and produced and it then got released on Queens' album Hot Space. The rest is music history.

The most interesting part about this story for me is that Bowie and Mercury intentionally recorded their parts separately JUST FOR FUN without knowing what the other was going to sing. (turns out Bowie cheated a bit and listened in to Mercury while tracking, but still...) They also didn't have any real idea what they were singing about until they were singing. They just trusted themselves, didn't over-think anything, and opened their mouths to let the sounds, words, and gibberish come out. Incredible.

Above is a You-Tube link to the vocal tracks only where you can really hear all the nuances and thoughtfulness of every note sang that day. I can't think of too many people alive today (except maybe Bowie himself) who could or even would attempt to pull off such a huge undertaking. I doubt it seemed huge to them while they were doing it, but the finished product gives me chills and makes me sad that Mercury left us so soon. He clearly had so much to give to the world.

I hope you listen to this track and appreciate the raw, organic talent as well as the freedom that comes with absolute control over your instrument and your voice. I think it's possible for everyone to access this place inside themselves, but there aren't that many people bold and brave enough to let their egos sing like these two legends.



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