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The Great Pretender

My Affinity with Freddie Mercury

"I'm the great pretender

Pretending I'm doing well"

Growing up, my dad would play music by The Eagles, The BeeGees, Michael Learns to Rock, and others when driving my sisters and I to school. Out of all of the cassette tapes, my favorite was the Greatest Hits of Queen. I was only in junior high when I fell in love with this eccentric band. 12-years-old, I had no idea who Brian May, Roger Taylor, or Freddie Mercury were. All I knew was that "Bicycle Race," "We are the Champions," and "Killer Queen" were more bangin' than whatever mainstream music was played on the radio at the time. 

When I found out who was the masterful voice behind my favorite songs, I was fascinated and intrigued with this man. Anyone who goes by the name "Mercury" must be magnificent. And he truly, truly was.

I never fully understood my affinity with Freddie Mercury, only that his lyrics and music resonated with me like no other artist I've come across from the past and present. As I've learned more and more about him, his life and death, I have also come to realize what connected me to his music in the first place: a mutual feeling of loneliness in this world

Pre-adolescent, I didn't understand my feelings nor did I have an outlet in which I can effectively express myself. With Queen's music and Freddie's lyrics, I was able to find solace and validation for all I was experiencing.

"I just gotta get out of this prison cell
One day (someday) I'm gonna be free, Lord!" 
                       - Somebody to Love by Queen

"Somebody to Love" is, hands down, my favorite song ever. Written by Mercury in 1976, the lyrics depict a person who longs to be heard, understood, and loved for who they truly are. Anyone, especially a young adolescent, who struggles with self-expression could relate to the feeling of being trapped and ultimately alone in their own personal thoughts and feelings. 

At 24-years-old, I still struggle with communicating my thoughts and feelings effectively and in turn, people don't know much about me and/or they misinterpret who I am and what I am going through.

"I'm the great pretender
Pretending I'm doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell" 
                  - The Great Pretender by The Platters

His cover of "The Great Pretender" (originally performed by The Platters in 1955) was the perfect song in perfect the form to best testify Freddie Mercury as an artist and human being, someone who finds pleasure in not being entirely figured out in order to maintain privacy (or from fear of not being understood).

Freddie kept his battle with AIDs a secret until a week before he passed from complications caused by the disease. When I was going through clinical depression, only a handful of people truly knew the depth and seriousness of my disease. A struggling college student, I did not share what I was going through out of pride, pretending to be fine (even great) when in reality, I was struggling internally. 

I found myself feeling lonely even when surrounded by groups of great people, including my family and friends; however, I can only imagine the immense loneliness Freddie must have felt as this disease slowly took his life while (almost) no one knew what he was going through. He had so many fans and people who supported him, yet the majority did not fully understand him. 

Speaking of understanding, the true meaning and intention of "Bohemian Rhapsody," the greatest composition I have ever heard, is still kept secret by the band even after more than 40 years since it had been released in 1975. This act and behavior says a lot more about Mercury than any of the explicit lyrics in the entire 6 minute masterpiece.

Again, Mercury chooses to keep what is his, his, demonstrating pride in what he holds true for himself, in which no one else can take from him. He doesn't need others to understand what he was trying to say because he knows the truth (a common theme throughout many of his songs). As cliche as it is, the truth will set us free.  


I find it incredible how, at 12-years-old, before I even experienced my own heartache and trauma, that I would relate to someone who not only went through, but expressed, through music, his own heartache and trauma. He gave the loners, the outsiders, and misfits a voice and power to stay true to who we are no matter what others say or think. 

Truly, the greatest gift Freddie Mercury left for many who resonate with his music, was validation that though we may feel lonely in this world, we are never alone. 

Thanks for reading! Any tips are greatly appreciated <3 Please share with anyone else who loves Freddie Mercury!

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