|The cover to Queen's album Made in Heaven|
Suddenly, doing the dishes, I realized it's the only music I've been listening to for two weeks.
Sometimes, in life, you discover that an artist - a writer, a musician, or maybe a painter - has come to a point of his artistic production where he has gone deeper towards a truth. This often happens when the artist nears death.
Made in Heaven was completed right after Freddie Mercury died from aids; the three remaining members of the band worked on the vocal material that Freddie had left for them to rearrange into thirteen heart-breaking tracks. Guitarist Brian May recalled in an interview how Freddie Mercury, a few weeks before the end, said: "Write anything and I'll sing it".
Freddie Mercury approached his final days singing like never before; imagine Luciano Pavarotti performing a high C from the chest while in his deathbed.
Listening to each song over and over again, I kept asking myself what made them so beautiful and, most of all, so touching. I understood that Freddie Mercury sang his last bits of life out. At times, like in "A Winter's Tale", his voice flickers perceptibly. In that split second, everything seems to be breaking to pieces; but he suddenly recovers, and again his voice reaches unequaled heights.
"Mother Love", the last song he ever performed, was left incomplete; his aching yet still powerful voice possesses at once sadness and hope, but the final verse was sung by Brian May because Freddie Mercury was not able to do so anymore. Towards the end, fractions of each song produced by Queen throughout their career were shrunk into two or three seconds; then, the sound fades away into the crying of a baby. I immediately thought of the theory according to which, at the end of our life, we have a light-quick glimpse of the most meaningful moments of our existence; in "Mother Love", something visual was beautifully transposed into music.
How could he sing so marvelously, I wondered. He knew that the end was approaching, and everything had to be done on borrowed time. How could depression not take over? How could he find the strenght not just to sing, but to do so as no one else could ever do? There must have been something so much stronger than death keeping him up; his passion, the profound friendship with the band members. But what else?
Then I thought of my beloved dog.
O, Brother. He kept wagging his tail looking at us, asking for a last gentle caress, until he fell into a deep final slumber.
So I understood.
It was an intense love for life, however painful it might be. It was an ardent attachment to something that, all in all, is just purely and simply beautiful; a true sublimation of life itself through death.
A few months ago at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, a character I played in a scene was consciously approaching death. I was instinctually brought to portray a very depressed person. The teacher interrupted the scene and asked me with a degree of impatience, "What are you doing, Jay?!".
"I'm dying", I replied.
"No, you're not. You're wanting to live."
Today, I fully understood what my teacher meant.
Is there an album, a symphony, or a kind of music that brings you to deeper introspective thoughts?