“N” is for “Nevermore”

“Nevermore” quoth the Raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 poemThe Raven.” Anyone who has gone to school in the United States has read this poem at some point in their education. The word “nevermore,” in use since around 900 A.D., means what it says: Never again. Whether or not it was commonly used before “The Raven” was first published, such is the power of Poe that ever after “nevermore” has been understood as a direct or indirect allusion to “The Raven.” You don’t believe me? I did some research and discovered the surprising extent to which Poe’s poem is imprinted on our collective psyche.

The first entry on Wikipedia’s always informative “disambiguation” page refers to a Seattle, WA, heavy-metal band named “Nevermore.” Nevermore is also the title of a few novels, films, a Dr. Who “audio play,” a musical, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character. However, three other entries are, to me, the most interesting.

First, the most surprising find was that French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin in 1897 created an oil painting he named “Nevermore.” It depicts his naked Tahitian wife lying on their bed; in the background is a raven, and “Nevermore” is written in capitals at the top of the painting. At the time Gaugin painted it, he and his young wife were grieving the loss of their first child, and Gaugin was grieving the loss of his European daughter.

Second, Queen recorded a song entitled “Nevermore” written by Freddie Mercury. (The short video is included below.)

Third, a young American composer, Edward W. Hardy, created a violin solo, “Nevermore,” and starred in a 2018 short film by the same name. Hardy, in fact, wrote “Three Pieces Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe” that included “Nevermore,” “Evil Eye,” and “A Fantasy.” “Nevermore” is a beautiful, haunting violin solo that, to me, truly evokes Poe. (The five-minute film is posted below.)

So henceforth whenever you hear “nevermore,” you can, if you choose, try to avoid thinking of “The Raven” and think instead of Gaugin, Queen, and Hardy. Enjoy the vids!

 

 

 

 

 

Freddie Mercury’s “Time Waits for No One”

Did you know Freddie Mercury had solo recordings? I didn’t. Diving into the YouTube rabbit hole this morning, I discovered a 1986 London musical, “Time, The Musical.” It was developed by Dave Clark (yes, THAT Dave Clark), who co-wrote the book, lyrics, and music. Loosely based on Dr. Who’s Time Lord character,  the show featured the last performance of Sir Laurence Olivier as a floating big-head hologram narrator. A concept double album released at the time is often mistakenly referred to as a “cast album,” although only two cast members — Cliff Richard and Sir Laurence Olivier — appeared on it. Most of the songs were performed by various non-cast members, including Freddie’s performance of  “Time.”  To commemorate the show’s 25th anniversary, in 2012 Clark released on iTunes the only digital recording of the double album, encompassing all of the musical’s songs and additional material.

As for Freddie Mercury’s solo oeuvre, he released two studio albums and multiple singles. Posthumous releases number at least seven compilations, as well as the comprehensive 12 disc “Solo Collection.” His latest posthumous release (June 20, 2019) is a recently-discovered video of the original recording session for the 1986 concept album. In it, Freddie performed “Time Waits for No One” with only a piano accompaniment. Dave Clark International released the song on July 26 as a single CD; it was scheduled to be released as a 7″ vinyl picture disk on July 27. (Note: As of this writing, the CD appears to have been released only in the UK; it’s not clear whether the picture disk has been released.)

 

Compiled from Time The Musical Fan Site, Theatrecrafts.com, Wikipedia pages (The Dave Clark Five, Time: Dave Clark album, Time: Freddie Mercury Song, and Freddie Mercury Discography), FreddieMercury.com, UDiscoverMusic, Queen News on brianmay.com, NME, and Amazon.

Photo: Sunset near the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, Switzerland (Wikimedia Commons)