Yesterday we wrote about the significance of Freddie Mercury’s singularly elastic voice. There may be just as much value, though, in his pen.
The UK auction house Bonhams—as The Guardian reports—will offer a notepad that Mercury and his Queen bandmates used for nearly three years (1988-90). Bonhams regularly sells documents of original lyric writing, but none so expansive as this.
“We see and sell lyrics from all sorts of different artists but they tend to be one piece of paper for one song,” said Stephen Maycock, a consultant specialist in entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams. “To have a notebook which contains tracks recorded over a three-year period is really exceptional. I can’t think of another one.”
The notebook, which still contains the price tag from the London shop it was purchased from, contains lyrics for 19 songs from two records—most notably “Too Much Love Will Kill You” and “The Show Must Go On.”
Many of the lyrics are based on Mercury’s then ongoing battle with AIDS. “The Show Must Go On”—written mostly by Queen guitarist Brian May—is about Mercury’s fight to continue performing live, for instance, despite the fact that he could barely walk when the song was recorded. Mercury died six weeks after it was released.
In its entirety, the notebook serves as an intimate window into the singer’s struggle with the disease—up until the very end. As such, it’s filled with affecting thoughts and passages: “My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies/ Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die/ Forever [with a pencil annotation I can fly written above] my friends,” reads one fragment.
Maycock considers the notebook to be proof of Queen’s inimitable devotion to their art. “It is a poignant record of that period, but it also struck me that it is a testament to the creative energy in the band. Despite his illness and increasing frailty the ideas were still there. His performance on that last album was remarkable considering how frail he was, his vocal powers on some of the tracks are just extraordinary… he did have this incredible drive.”
The notepad will be auctioned off on June 29 and the estimated price range is £50,000-£70,000 ($72,000 – $100,000). Could be a great inspiration piece for all those wealthy songwriters out there.
Any big Queen fans with an itch to buy this? Let us know in the comments.