My Melancholy Blues is the last song on Queen’s outstanding sixth album, News Of The World, released in 1977. One of the amazing attributes of Queen throughout their career was the diversity of musical styles contained within each of their albums. This was especially true of the band in the 1970’s. The News Of The World album was no exception, it contains an operatic piano rocker, punk inspired hard rock, Led Zeppelin like instrumental freak outs, jazz, bluesy rock, an acoustic ballad, piano ballads and hard rock.
My Melancholy Blues is a stripped back, jazz influenced track that features just piano, bass and very light drums. Listening to the song, one could picture Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Roger Taylor playing it in a dimly lit, smoke filled lounge.
The song highlights Freddie Mercury’s versatility and subtlety as a vocalist. He delivers a dramatic, yet mellow, vocal that is understated and over the top at the same time. Absent from the song are any guitar orchestrations, booming bass lines or loud drums. Also absent are the typically over the top, multi tracked vocals. This is just Freddie’s vocals, pure, simple and brilliant.
The track also displays Freddie Mercury’s overlooked brilliance on the piano. Beginning with just the flourish of jazzy notes and then chords, the onset of the song is just piano and vocals. As much as I love Brian May ‘s guitar playing, he is not missed on this track. Everything that needs to be here is present musically. At three minutes and twenty nine seconds it is not a long song, Freddie says what he needs to and then the band plays to the fade out. I wish that Queen would have recorded more tracks akin to this one.
When the band re-recorded the track for the BBC Brian May added some very tasty and understated guitar lines that do enhance the slightly faster and louder feel of the new version. Also on this version is a brilliant moment from Freddie. Towards the end of the song instead of finishing the last lyric something apparently made him laugh. That laugh, for me, is one of Freddie’s best moments to be captured on tape. It’s a spontaneous and magical moment. One might even say that it is a kind of magic.