By Hans Ebert
“Thinking young and growing older is no sin/And I can play the game of life to win.” That’s a line from one of my favourite songs- “Going Back” written by Carole King and then-husband Gerry Goffin, and which I just heard as a demo Freddie Mercury recorded almost as a favour before the release of the first Queen album. The article that contains this recording is a fascinating insight into the man, and one of the most definitive articles on Queen. It’s an amazing read.
The beauty of music is how in sync it is with life. Mercury’s reading of those lyrics had an immediate effect on me- one of elation, regrets, regression, progression, and, so often, the need to go back and re-understand everything again, why you did what you did, the weight lifted off your shoulders after you’ve forgiven those who never forgave you, and the need to learn to enjoy being by one’s self and where nothing and nobody else matters. And this is so key when insignificant people to the grand scheme of things often ground and you where you’re almost held captive by them. It’s like The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers except they’re playing those mind games Lennon warned about.
It’s all about control, and it’s always been music that can at least liberate this particular soul so that no one owns it even if one gets to those Crossroads and hasn’t found Robert Johnson’s 99th song. It’s what Dobie Grey sang about.
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal. Dylan wrote those lines as a put down. But turn the half-empty glass around, and it could mean being free of the mental debris so that you can move on with no looking back, and into the arms of someone you had thought could never walking into your life. And suddenly, McCartney is singing “My Love”, you’ve beaten the Queen of Diamonds at her own game and have now drawn the Queen Of Hearts. Leather and lace have come together.
Thinking young and growing older is no sin. The line just sums up everything so well. It clears away all that clutter that keeps you shackled to maintaining a status quo for the sake of politeness. It pulls you away from those that are pulling you down. It inspires and excites you to confront your demons. And win.
It’s again, all about the power of music that can tell you how you once held mountains in the palm of your hand, how big boys don’t cry, how being in love is just a silly phase you’re going through, but how on the flip side, you’re amazed at how she loves you all the time, and, yes, keeps reminding you that thinking young and growing old is no sin.
Sometimes, maybe more often than we realise, one song can say so much and speak to you like no one else. Thank you, Carole King and Gerry Goffin.