Friday, November 21, 1975

Queen released A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera


Released: November 21, 1975

Peak: 4 US, 14 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: glam rock/classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…) (Freddie Mercury/Queen) [3:43]
  2. Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon (Freddie Mercury/Queen) [1:07]
  3. I’m in Love with My Car (Queen/Roger Taylor) [3:04]
  4. You’re My Best Friend (Deacon) [2:52] (5/22/76, 16 US, 9 CB, 15 HR, 7 RR, 2 CL, 7 UK, 2 CN, 40 AU, sales: 0.2 million)
  5. ’39 (Brian May/Queen) [3:30]
  6. Sweet Lady (Brian May/Queen) [4:03]
  7. Seaside Rendezvous (Freddie Mercury/Queen) [2:19]
  8. The Prophet’s Song (Brian May/Queen) [8:20]
  9. Love of My Life (Freddie Mercury/Queen) [3:38] (7/14/79, 30 CL, 63 UK)
  10. Good Company (Brian May/Queen) [3:23]
  11. Bohemian Rhapsody (Mercury) [5:57] (10/31/75, 2 US, 1 CB, 4 HR, 3 RR, 1 CL, 16 AR, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: 13.78 million)
  12. God Save the Queen (Queen/traditional) [1:15]

Total Running Time: 43:08

The Players:

  • Freddie Mercury (vocals)
  • Brian May (guitar)
  • John Deacon (bass)
  • Roger Taylor (drums)


4.356 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Queen’s A Night at the Opera can be simultaneously viewed as the group’s “crowning achievement” PR and “an extravagant indulgence.” PR On the latter front, “this is where the band let its over-the-top tendencies loose.” RS500 The group “celebrate their own pomposity” AMG in “a self-consciously ridiculous and overblown hard rock masterpiece.” AMG In his book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, Tom Moon called it “the campiest rock concept album ever.” TM

On the other front, it was the most expensive album made up to that time, taking months to record in as many as six studios simultaneously. PR That “detailed, meticulous productions” AMG was a mutual effort from Queen and producer Roy Thomas Baker, who “was more than happy to oblige the boys, piling on the overdubs until the analog 16-track tape shed almost all its oxide and literally went transparent.” GW

The Queen sound by definition was filled with electric guitars in harmony, a rock-solid rhythm section, and many layers of vocals,” CRS but even by their own standards, Queen “broke down all the barricades on A Night at the OperaAMG with a mix of “hard rock, wistful ballads, music hall pastiche and perfectly crafted pop with classical trimmings.” PR It was “the disc that established them as a completely unique entity in rock music, quite distinct from the Seventies glam/proto metal pack with which they’d formerly been grouped.” GW “It’s prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics.” AMG

“Delivered with sly winks and high-gloss dazzle, these put Queen closer, sensibility-wise, to the theatrical entertainments of a bygone age than anything on pop radio.” TM “Fully half of the album tends toward camp - there are seafaring sing-alongs (‘39) and vaudeville-style soft-shoe tunes (Seaside Rendezvous) and a few themes that might have been inspired by a toy calliope (Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon).” TM

However, “tucked between the kitschy, amazingly detailed period pieces are several conventional pop songs.” TM The album “encompasses metal (Death on Two Legs, Sweet Lady), pop (the lovely, shimmering You're My Best Friend)...mystical prog rock (…The Prophet’s Song)” AMG, and “the zooming, cleverly harmonized confession I’m In Love with My Car.” TM They all serve as “head-spinningly intricate, illustrations of Queen’s ability to conjure music of preposterous flamboyance that somehow still manages to flat-out rock.” TM

They “eventually bring it all together on the pseudo-operatic Bohemian Rhapsody.” AMG The group fretted that “this strange song with suicidal overtones, mood changes, and a pseudo-operatic section” CRS “was a bit over the top; it would either be a huge success or an equally huge failure.” CRS It proved to be the former, becoming the group’s most beloved song and one of classic rock’s staples.

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 8/5/2021.

Thursday, November 20, 1975

Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” released as a single

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd

Writer(s): David Gilmour, Roger Waters (see lyrics here)

Released: November 20, 1975 (studio version)

Released: July 20, 1995 (live version)

Peak: 1 CL, 13 AR, 68 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 0.75 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 455.4 video, 568.84 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The title cut from Pink Floyd’s ninth album “whose overall theme is absence.” DT Accounts vary as to the inspiration for the song. The general consensus is that it is inspired by the band’s founder and frontman Syd Barrett, who departed the band in 1968 because of problems with LSD and schizophrenia. One story says the song emerged from a poem that songwriter and bassist Roger Waters wrote for Barrett. DT

However, Waters has also claimed the song was “about his grandmother’s final years and how she would think Waters was her long-dead husband.” XFM He’s also said the song was about himself, saying the lyrics are about “being present in one’s own life and freeing one’s self in order to truly experience life.” WK Any interpretation allows for the song to be viewed as “a commentary on how people cope with the world by withdrawing physically, mentally, or emotionally.” SF In addition, “the sighing introspection of the music sums up the mundane tragedy perfectly.” XFM

The album version of the song opens with the sound oa radio station being tuned away from “Have a Cigar,” the previous song on the Wish You Were Here album. The listener flips through several stations including a piece of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony before moving on to the beginning of “Wish You Were Here” playing on the radio. The latter was recorded from singer and guitarist David Gilmour’s car radio. WK He performs “the delicate acoustic guitar intro” XFM as if he is playing along with the radio.

The original version of the song was released as a single in 1975. Twenty years, later it was released again as a single in support of Pink Floyd’s 1995 live album Pulse. The latter version reached #13 on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart. In 2001, Wyclef Jean released a “soul-reggae version” SF which reached #28 in the UK. In 2012, Ed Sheeran and others performed the song at the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in London and hit #34 on the chart. It prompted the original Pink Floyd version to hit the UK charts for the first time the next week at #68. In 2016, Avenged Sevenfold took the song to #16 on the mainstream rock chart. Guns N’ Roses performed the song live in 2017 in a medley with Derek & the Dominos’ “Layla.”

One of the most significant covers, however, was in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and Wes Borland performed the song live with the Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Reznik on the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon. They revised some lyrics for the occasion. The version simultaneously captured the sadness over American lives lost and the desire to seek revenge on Osamba bin Laden for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.


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First posted 3/30/2023.

Saturday, November 8, 1975

Queen charted with “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Bohemian Rhapsody


Writer(s): Fredde Mercury (see lyrics here)

Released: October 31, 1975

First Charted: November 8, 1975

Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 4 HR, 3 RR, 1 CL, 16 AR, 9 CO, 114 UK, 12 CN, 12 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 2.8 UK, 13.78 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1358.8 video, 1941.96 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Called “one of the most complex singles ever recorded,” KL “Bohemian Rhapsody” begins as a ballad, veers into opera, and ends as rock. Recording took place over three weeks in six studios TC with 180 overdubs. KL More than 70 hours went into the completion of the operatic parts. KL There is a myth TB that the tapes became nearly transparent RS500 from more than 180 overdubs. KL The song was so complicated to play live that the band shot a promo clip which has come to be considered instrumental in the dawning of the video era. KL

Theories abound about the song’s meaning. Some say it is about a man calling to God for help on the eve of his execution. WK Others claim it is about Mercury’s attempt to break away from a lover after his first gay encounter. WK It has also been suggested that the lyrics have no meaning; they were just written to fit the music. WK Lead singer Freddie Mercury never did explain it, only saying that it was a about relationships. The band still protects the song’s secret. WK

When record execs wouldn’t release it, Mercury gave a copy to a DJ friend. This prompted fans to try to buy the non-existing single, which finally led to its release. WK It went top 10 in the U.S. and topped the British charts with more than a million sales. MG

In the wake of Mercury’s death in 1991 and inclusion in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, the song re-charted, peaking at #2 in the U.S. In the U.K., it topped the charts again – the only song to ever do so – giving it a total of 14 weeks on top. It also sold another million copies. MG


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Last updated 11/4/2022.