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Queen fan pays tribute with original song ‘God Save the Queen’

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Thanks to the new biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the popularity of Queen – indisputably one of rock’s most beloved and influential bands – is at its highest point since the 1991 death of front man Freddie Mercury. One of the group’s biggest fans has unknowingly chosen the perfect time to release his musical tribute to the iconic singer.

“God Save the Queen” tackles a very tough subject: How Freddie Mercury processed the news of his illness.

Kevin Michael Giordano says he loves his day job teaching violin, viola, cello and bass in Syracuse, New York, but that he’s always balanced his classical side with various rock projects, including his years spent with his brother in a Steely Dan tribute band and another project they put together called “South Bay,” which focused on Giordano’s original songs.

When his brother Mark, whom Giordano calls “my musical partner, my business partner and my best friend,” developed a brain tumor and passed away in 2014, all musical activity stopped.

“It was the worst experience of my life,” Giordano told me. “I stopped music altogether. I could barely do my job.”

After two years, the clouds began to lift, and Giordano once again felt like writing, recording and performing, which prompted a Queen tribute band to ask him to compose original material in the style of the legendary group.

“Stupidly, I said ‘Yeah, I think I can do that,’” Giordano said with a laugh. “I went home and thought ‘What have I gotten myself into?’”

Having been a huge Queen fan since childhood when some older kids across the street gifted him with a 45 RPM copy of the band’s huge hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Giordano knew the band’s discography inside out and says he began listening to their catalog more deeply a decade ago. But writing a song in the style of one of his favorite bands was new territory for Giordano, a songwriter who credits the twilight zone hypnagogic area between waking and sleep for allowing him to tap into his muse.

“Most of my songs have come to me in my dreams,” Giordano explained of the inspiration for the song “As I was falling asleep, the idea for this song came to me. A lot of the song arrived at once. I could hear it in my head and I had to get it down.”

That song would become “God Save the Queen.”

According to Giordano, he has long has been intrigued by the thought of what Mercury must have been dealing with near the end of his life. Mercury died on November 24, 1991 due to bronchial pneumonia after contracting AIDS. The news of Mercury’s illness was a closely guarded secret and only became public one day before his death.

“I just feel that Freddie was bottled and boxed up into a lonely existence,” Giordano said. “The people closest to him probably went through it with him but I’ve always thought he felt pretty alone.”

Giordano says the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” eerily prophesied Mercury’s death.

“Those words almost emulated what Freddie went through at the end of his life. I can’t imagine what he was thinking when he sang those words on the ‘Magic’ tour (Queen’s final tour, undertaken in 1986). The storyline in my song is a way to pay tribute to Freddie. He left us before we could grasp what was happening.”

Musically, “God Save The Queen” follows a similar arc to that of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A piano melody is accompanied by Giordano’s vocal – phrased like Mercury might have done. Guitars, bass and drums kick in and eventually build to a rocking crescendo, much like the Queen song.

“The most challenging thing of all was to make sure the song sounded like Queen once I got into the studio,” Giordano explained. “Everyone involved asked themselves, ‘What would Queen do in my position?’ That’s how we went about putting this together.”

For “God Save the Queen,” all vocals and guitars were performed by Giordano. Andy Rudy played the piano parts, Joe Arcuri played bass and drums were played by Gary Iacovelli.

The guitar tracks on Giordano’s song were recorded very close and dry – like much of guitarist Brian May’s work with Queen. To emulate May’s signature tone, Giordano tried a variety of guitars, amps and pedals but did not have access to one of May’s preferred guitar amplifiers – a Vox AC30.

“The studio luckily had a patch containing a variety of Brian May’s guitar sounds and plugging into it allowed me to obtain his sound on the song,” Giordano said.

Instead of May’s preferred guitar pick – an old English sixpence coin – Giordano utilized the American equivalent: a dime.

“There’s a particular percussive metallic timbre that comes out when you use a coin instead of a pick,” he explained. “A dime is just about the same size of an old sixpence coin so that’s what I used.

Some 35 vocal tracks (all sung by Giordano) were recorded using a similar approach to the one Queen took in the studio. Vocals were sung in groups of three and then doubled two or three times, with harmonies adding ninths and dissonants, and an emphasis on the highest harmonies, like those sung by Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

Just a few days after recording the song, Giordano heard about the pending release of the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“We couldn’t believe the timing,” Giordano said with a laugh. “When we heard about the movie coming out, I knew the time was right for this song.

“Freddie just put everything out there and we all felt like we knew him,” he added. “It just felt natural to write about how I felt about him. In the song, I say there will never be another Freddie Mercury in history – ‘Forever be the light of Mercury and Queen.’”

“God Save The Queen” by Kevin Giordano, from Subcat Records, is available on iTunes, Apple Music, CD Baby, Spotify, Deezer and at


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