The Story Behind “Tie Your Mother Down” by Queen
Formed in London in 1970, Queen is a British rock band famed for its eclectic style, flamboyant stage presence, and intricate harmonies. Its primary members consisted of vocalist Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and bassist John Deacon. Known for their innovative approach to music, Queen’s influence is still strongly felt in the music world, even decades after they first burst onto the scene. One of the iconic tracks from their repertoire is “Tie Your Mother Down” — a song that is as unique in its creation as it is in its interpretation.
Creation of “Tie Your Mother Down”
“Tie Your Mother Down” was written by Brian May, the band’s virtuoso guitarist, and is the opening track on their 1976 album “A Day at the Races.” The song is known for its hard rock style and fast, energetic tempo, marking it as a distinctive departure from some of Queen’s more theatrical compositions.
The song’s inception is tied to May’s academic pursuits, long before the band achieved worldwide fame. In the late 1960s, May was working towards a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at Imperial College, London. During his Tenerife expedition to study interplanetary dust, he brought along his guitar as a means of relaxation and started to create the riff that would ultimately become the backbone of “Tie Your Mother Down.”
Upon his return to England, May shared his new creation with the rest of the band, where it was eagerly embraced. Over several sessions, the song took shape as May’s electrifying guitar riffs were supplemented with Mercury’s powerful vocals, Taylor’s pulsating drums, and Deacon’s rhythmic bass lines. It quickly became a staple of Queen’s live performances and remains one of their most popular live tracks to this day.
What is “Tie Your Mother Down” About?
Despite its seemingly violent title, “Tie Your Mother Down” is not about violence or hostility. According to May, the song is a metaphor, intended to represent the idea of breaking free from constraints and living life to the fullest. The “mother” in the song title is not a literal mother, but rather symbolizes the restrictions that hold individuals back.
May, known for his dry sense of humor, often introduces the song during live performances with a playful warning: “It is only a song, remember. In the event of any emotional confusion, please consult your family doctor.” This tongue-in-cheek introduction further illustrates the lighthearted spirit in which the song was written and performed.
Interesting Facts about Queen guitarist Brian May
Beyond his musical accomplishments, Brian May is a multi-faceted individual with a wide range of interests. Here are some interesting facts about him:
- Academic Achievement: Brian May is one of the few rock stars with a Ph.D. After an over three-decade hiatus, May returned to Imperial College, London, to complete his Astrophysics degree in 2007. His thesis, titled “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” was based on the research he had begun back in the late 1960s.
- Animal Activism: May is a devoted animal rights activist. He co-founded the organization “Save Me” in 2010, which is dedicated to preventing cruelty against common but often overlooked animals like badgers and foxes in the UK.
- Inventor: May is credited as the co-designer of the Red Special, also known as the “Fireplace” — his iconic guitar that he and his father built using materials from an old fireplace mantel. This guitar has been used in almost all of Queen’s recordings
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