How Can I Go On
One afternoon, the telephone rang.
"Freddie has just called me from Montreux.
He said he needs you. ...could you join him at once?"
It was from Jim Beach.
He told him that Freddie, who has been working with the famous opera diva Montserrat Caballe,
wanted him to come to Montreux and play a bass.
John looked at Joshua, his youngest son. He was breathing calmly while asleep beside his father.
Joshua was reluctant to sleep and John has just promised him, "if you are good boy enough to have a nap, Daddy will play outside with you".
Besides, other children is coming back soon...John thought. He has to welcome them. Listen to their talks. And Laura said that she brings her friends today...
Do I look for an excuse to refuse the offer?
John felt a little hatred for himself.
Am I afraid of seeing Freddie?
People said that "The Magic Tour" was the biggest and the best tour of Queen.
But contrary to Queen's success, John's life was more miserable than ever before.
Fatigue weighed heavily on him. Whatever he did, it brought no more than pain.
Huge management jobs, the private life in out of mesh, and ...
"That's enough! That does it! Leave me alone, please!"
John unpleasantly remembered his own last words to Freddie.
Yes, I took them out on Freddie, of all people.
Because he couldn't control himself. Because he didn't know why he alone was in such pain, in such misery. Because he didn't know why he was so blind. He felt that his world crumbled in front of him.
I can not soothe your passion no longer. I get involved in your chaos, Freddie...
But, if he needs me...? If I still make use of myself for him...?
Jim Beach kept silence, waiting patiently for his answer.
"...OK, I'll go right now."
Unconsciously, the reply went out from John's mouth.
Hanging up the receiver and raising his eyes, John noticed the eyes of Veronica. She was coming out from the kitchen.
He thought that he'd have something to say to her, but he couldn't say anything.
Fear stood in the way. He feared that his every words may sound like excuses.
He was beginning to understand now that she also had been distressed for years.
Given up her own life planning and got involved in her husband's unusual lifestyle, Veronica has kept protecting the children and home by herself.
John felt sorry about her for his lack of understanding and affections, but he couldn't tell her his feeling yet.
"I'll prepare your suitcase."
Veronica said calmly.
"...um...Freddie seems to call me in Montreux. I think I'd go back soon..."
Sound like a poor excuse. He thought.
"All right, John. It's just a business, isn't it?"
Business. She emphasized this word slightly.
Is the musical activitiy a 'business' for me?
John couldn't answer now, it was just what he had considered before though.
Not of others, he had considered that he 'worked' like other businessmen in the world to support his own family. He didn't have the nerve to declare "Music is my life!".
That's why he was able to understand the whole situation around Queen.
On the other hand, Queen controled John's whole life on the above level which surpassed the family ties. When he and his wife ran up against the fact, there seemed to happen an unpleasant feeling between them. But now John didn't want to bring it up again.
"...instead of me, would you apologize to the children? Tell them that I'll make it up to them someday."
Did she realise that I didn't answer her question?
John didn't know.
Why am I so clumsy?
Driving to the airport, John was lost in thought.
Several decades ago, he was troubled with doing well both in study and the band, and gave up his study. And now, he was troubled between family and the band.
If I have to give up either of the two again, which one do I choose?
...why do I have to give up one by the way?
It was one of the hardest problem for him. Freddie lived his unrestrained life, Roger had nothing to restrict his freedom and even Brian started to pursue his new love. Thinking about them, John had a grudge against himself.
Maybe I take it too serioulsly.
Although John knew that it's meaningless to think about the future, he couldn't help thinking.
It's been a long time since Queen was no longer theirs only.
Yes, those were the days of their lives. They always stayed together. Lived together.
Those were the days of their full lives...needy, but full of confidence.
They wanted to go there, they wanted to do that, by the power of just only theirselves.
But now, Queen is leaving them behind.
Wealth. Fame. They have everything. Then, where should they go now?
And what should I do...?
A tense atmosphere which comes from the different musical vectors of four seemed to cause their success. However, it's a fact that they are losing their way; still each of the other three has "a vent", a solo work.
John has been passive in solo works.
Although his public excuse was "I can't sing", there were more.
When he formed a instant unit for a soundtrack of a movie recently, he found that he could display his ability fully only as the member of Queen, especially with that greatly talented vocalist.
But how long can we go on?
John began to sense the weight of the word "break-up", maybe since their album "The Works" was released. He sensed that he couldn't deny rumours clear while the others often did so on several interviews.
If we no longer create anything together, shouldn't I leave...?
Recently he was thinking about such a thing, without a firm purpose what to do.
But Freddie often said, "it's coward to leave".
Although this words were not pointed at John himself, they stabbed into his heart.
I don't care whatever I'm called but coward.
And he couldn't betray the trust and the friendship between he and Freddie who was very sensitive.
When John arrived at Montreux, the sun was about to set.
It was so calm and there seems to be no signs of life in the studio.
Has Freddie left already?
John felt a bit lonely. He knew Freddie's usual whim, but he felt that Freddie's absence didn't pay his own anxiety during the trip.
I'd better to go to the hotel anyway, he thought. As soon as he turned back, there was a sound of footsteps behind him.
"Hi John! Here you come. I'm waiting for you."
It was Freddie indeed that was reflected in John's eyes.
But, something was different.
When they met last, Freddie was energetic. But now, he looked depressed. Very tired.
What's the matter, Freddie...?
"...did you shave your mustache?"
That's not what he wanted to say.
"Yeah, I do look so young, you know? By the way, you quite look like 'nice uncle John'. How are Veronica and children? Is Joshua at his dearest age, isn't he? I'm afraid I might bother you by my sudden call."
John shook his head with a smile. He couldn't say anything in front of Freddie, as usual.
"I need your help on this song, John. I think that we'd better to connect this one with the latter song. Anyway, try to listen."
Preparing for the demo tape, Freddie handed a score to John.
"But you said that you're making a rather classical album. Do you really want my bass? Besides, you have Mike Moran. Isn't it OK if you have him play keyboards?"
John was still half in doubt. However, his thought was stopped when the song began.
It was a beautiful ballad. Its gentle melody made his heart ache.
How can I go on
From day to day
Who can make me strong in every way
Where can I be safe?
Where can I belong
In this great big world of sadness
How can I forget
Those beautiful dreams that we shared
They're lost and they're no where to be found
How can I go on? ...
"Well John, any comments?"
John mumbled scrubbing his face hurriedly. Tears ran down his cheek.
"Um...it's so surprised me. So beautiful. Nice song."
Freddie seemed very pleased with his reaction.
"I'm glad you like it, my dear! Then, I think your bass will soften the song more, don't you think so? It might be a bit snobbish with piano only. I want to please Montsy."
Freddie started to show lots of ideas about the melody one after another, but
John's mind was floating somewhere.
Why he wrote such a sorrowful lyrics?
Freddie's words always amazes him.
He have once asked Freddie how he could write songs. Freddie laughed it off.
"Just inspiration. I'm not a man of deep thought like you, darling"
Many of his recent songs express his honest feelings.
Although some says that Freddie is calculating and that 'feelings' represent his narcissism, John is not sure about it. Freddie is himself, always.
John has also heard some unfavorable rumours about Freddie.
Freddie would be protective toward him in every way when they're young (and it's too much for John). But gradually John could not feel Freddie's care.
At the same time, Freddie's behaviour became rather eccentric, so even John criticized him in a roundabout way.
However, since their last tour, something was different.
No, probably since our last recording...
John remembered two songs written by himself and Freddie.
"I love the words 'Pain is so close to pleasure' on your new song, John. We can write another song using this phrase, can't we?"
So, a new song was born.
"John, shall we create the very Queen song together? Persuade everyone to say 'hey, this is it! This is Queen!' "
Then their song was played between "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions".
Both songs were filled with warmhearted tenderness.
At that time, the relationship between Brian and Roger went sour and nobody couldn't approach them. So naturally Freddie and John would spend together, but...
Why was Freddie so keen to collaborate with me?
Basically, their writing style are different.
Freddie is a sprinter-type -- suggests lots of idea in the studio and tries to sing repeatedly till gets satisfaction.
On the other hand, John tends to finish almost all parts of songs at his home. He just wanted to make rhythms firmly because he couldn't sing by himself.
When they began to collaborate, John didn't know if he could follow the quick-witted Freddie.
He felt even uneasy.
But seeing that his melody was sung and arranged by Freddie's incredible voice, John was absorbed in this great experience.
Even if John himself regard his songs as worthless, they are given true life by Freddie.
John would say that he owes his will to continue to Freddie.
Finding John's absence of mind, Freddie sighed.
"Well, well. Don't you hear John? You're so anxious about your family?"
"Um...sorry, Freddie..but I'm not..."
"...OK, it's good to have own family. Take care, or you'll be punished, John."
"Not always good. Sometimes I want to give up everything to evade my responsibility."
"You are too worrysome. Think more optimistic, right?"
Freddie taught him importance of family life for a while. And there's a short silence.
Then, Freddie said casually.
"John, if you have little time to live, what will you do?"
John felt air surrounded him pricked his skin. He was stifled.
"...what...what are you talking about? I just don't know..."
Looking sideways at John's confusion, Freddie continued lightly.
"Yeah, of course you don't. I should have known that you're unfit for such a talk. Whenever I talk to you, my dear, it takes me about two days to hear your reply."
Don't make fun of me now, Freddie.
"You'd better ask back, 'then, what will YOU do?' if you're stuck for a reply. Try it, John."
"No, I cannot say such things."
I don't want to hear your answer!
A reality which John never want to become aware surged over him.
Why Freddie wrote such pathetic lyrics. Why he create such calm songs.
I know why...don't I?
John did know that. He didn't want to admit it until now. He feared to admit it.
Even gossipy media can find out the truth.
After this conversation, John were apt to hold his tongue. Then in awkward atmosphere, they exchanged the promise of tomorrow morning and parted.
Sitting in a hotel room blankly, John had a telephone call.
The operator announced him Roger's name.
"Hi, Jim told me that you're with Freddie now. Is that so? ...is there something I should know?"
"No, nothing particular. ...why?"
John's voice got hoarse.
"...well, it's OK, then. Bye"
Very simple. That's very Roger.
Then John called his home. Veronica took the phone, immediately.
"I've just had a call from Brian. I said that you're in Montreux with Freddie, then he asked 'what's the matter?' Are you all right, aren't you, John? Or..."
"We are OK. Nothing can happen. I'll go back soon."
John felt his body trembled.
Roger. Brian. They also felt that.
Their fate was spinning around where no one can forecast.
What should I do...?
What is my role...?
Sitting on the floor and leaning against the bed, John desperately searched for the answer.
Fresh and cool air filled the lake in the early morning.
John came the studio and step out onto the balcony. He lighted the first cigarette of the day.
Soon, he heard a car approaching. John knew it was HIM.
"Oh, dear. You don't seem to break that bad habit as smoking."
A cheerful and mischievous voice sounded from behind.
"I'm already get rid of it."
Saying so, Freddie also took a puff at a slim cigarette.
John opened his mouth with his eyes still on the lake.
"Well, Freddie, talking of the question last evening...I feel I'd like to spend the time all alone...
calmly, having nobody disturb me. I'm afraid of getting alone, but, we are all alone at the last, after all."
Freddie kept silent for a while. Then he smiled.
"Finally, that's very like you we've met for the first time, John. Very cool and dry."
It was the words that John wanted to hear. Myself as what used to be. And Freddie as what used to be.
Nothing should need to change.
"It is so kind of you to give praise to my behavior, sir. I humbly endeavor for your song.
Now, will you try to listen? I arranged it a bit."
They entered the studio. The shining sun gave a send-off on their back.
"Oh, you changed a Montsy's part. It fit her better."
Seeing Freddie impressed by his arrangement, John played the beautiful and touching melody.
For Freddie only. For now.
If my constancy brings your mind peace, I'm willing to stay constant.
You don't need words, don't you? Such empty, nominal words to comfort...
I do remember you as what you used to be, if it's your wish.
So remember, no matter how far away we are from each other, I'm always with you. Always.