"No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young)" as written by and Brian Harold May....
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"No One But You (Only the Good Die Young)" as written by Brian May

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No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young) song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI think it would be the greatest honor to have this played at a funeral for a wonderful person. I love this song. I always feel like crying whenever I hear it, but not only because it has to do with Freddie's death. This song could be applied to other people in my life too. I hope people don't post negetive comments about this song because it is such a beautiful song.
    deadsaltysnailon May 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is my first post, although I've been browsing the site for many years. :)

    I believe that, with the personal angst of Freddie's untimely death still fresh among the band members, that they decided to honor and lionize Freddie in the best way they could - with a eulogy song that they would record as a trio. This song is thick with references to western mythology as well as to modern pop culture. In various parts, it portrays him as a martyr, a hero and perhaps a saint. Below I put one verse at a time with what I think it references.

    "A hand above the water
    An angel reaching for the sky
    Is it raining in heaven -
    Do you want us to cry?"

    -->"A hand above the water" seems to reference the old European legends of King Arthur. These legends had as a common theme that there was a magical lake, far below which there existed a land of faeries. When a man had been born who was destined to rule the land as its rightful king, a woman would deliver from this lake the sword Excalibur, symbolizing the right to rule and making him invincible in combat. When the King's time came to die, he had to cast the sword back into the lake, renouncing his rule. According to the legends, "the lady of the lake" (a faerie) would reach from below the water and catch the sword. Only -after- the sword's return, the King would be carried off to sea (and the afterlife) by a vessel crewed by divine beings. In this context, I think that Queen was implying that with Freddie's death, a faerie somewhere must be reaching for Excalibur because the world had lost a hero.---

    "And everywhere the broken-hearted
    On every lonely avenue
    No-one could reach them
    No-one but you"

    -->These lyrics seem to allude to what Queen found heroic about Freddie. Referencing lonely avenues full of broken-hearted people, they assert that Freddie had a unique ability to elevate humanity above its suffering. This is a common theme in Queen lyrics: you hear a line with one meaning. (No one could reach them...) and then you hear another line that alters its context (No one but you). No one could fight off the sadness of the world-except Freddie, that is.---

    "One by one
    Only the Good die young
    They're only flying too close to the sun
    And life goes on -
    Without you..."

    -->This seems to reference both rock n' roll and classical mythology. "Only the Good Die Young" was a hit song written by Billy Joel. That song juxtaposed the positives associated with a "sinful" life free of restraint with the negatives of a "saintly" life bound to conformity. Freddie was loved by many and died quite young, so that line seems to lament this. To "fly too close to the sun" is most likely a reference to the ancient legend of Icarus. According to this tale, a father and son were held captive on an island. The father was a brilliantly skilled craftsman, and built shoes for himself and his son with wings out of wax that would let them fly off the island. He warned his son to maintain a low altitude at the risk of the sun melting the wax if he got too close to it. In his excitement, Icarus soared high into the sky until he realized that his wings were melting. Before he could do anything, he fell to his death in the ocean. Here, they compare Freddie to a Greek legend who was snuffed out while doing something beautiful and yet dangerous.---

    Another Tricky Situation
    A get to drowin' in the Blues
    And I find myself thinkin'
    Well - what would you do?

    --> More straightforward. His loss is referred to as "tricky" because they don't know how to proceed. The "blues" is a music genre, but also a reference to human sadness; the band is at a loss without him. They wonder, though, what he would want of them; their best guess is ambiguous.---

    Yes! - it was such an operation
    Forever paying every due
    Hell, you made a sensation
    You found a way through - and

    --> This seems to reference what an incredibly difficult time Queen had during their early years. It took them awhile to get their first hits, but that they stuck together during this time fostered in them a great admiration for each other. Here, they seem to give Freddie significant credit for their survival and triumph as a musical group, indicating that he "found a way through" the "operation" of forever "paying their dues" when others were skeptical about their music.---

    One by one
    Only the Good die young
    They're only flyin' too close to the sun
    We'll remember -

    And now the party must be over
    I guess we'll never understand
    The sense of your leaving
    Was it the way it was planned?

    -->Parties were a common motif in Queen's music videos and other visual art. Dance halls, waltzes, balls, house parties. They were quite fond of elaborate costumes and complex presentations of vivid fantasies. Here, they suppose that this way of life cannot continue without Freddie. They lament the end of their fantasy, and wonder whether there was any reason for his death. The one who "planned" the death would have been God; I'm not sure how religious the band was, but here the singer's avatar wonders aloud whether some benevolent God might have called Freddie away from the world for reasons he simply can't understand. Either way, the latter's departure represents the end of the "party" they'd been a part of for so many years.---

    And so we grace another table
    And raise our glasses one more time
    There's a face at the window
    And I ain't never, never sayin' goodbye...

    -->This is a deeply religious verse. In Judeo-Christian mythology, many angels patrolled the world as its protectors and were only selectively visible, sometimes as faces in the window, checking on humanity. To raise one's glass in toast was a form of prayer, and it is implied that the band is confident Freddie must still be watching them from somewhere. Therefore, they sing of toasting to him assuming he will hear them and do not say goodbye because they want him to continue watching them until they pass away too.---

    One by one
    Only the Good die young
    They're only flyin' too close to the sun
    Cryin' for nothing
    Cryin' for no-one
    No-one but you
    MadcapBeatitudeon December 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best songs ever that deals with death! It was one of the only songs written by queen (Brian May) following Freddie Mercury's death. It's great that through the song which I believe was written to Freddie Mercury, they thank him for "Making a sensation" - he's the one that made queen although they all are very talented, and they recognise that and thank him for it.
    joeyfox1on August 30, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is definitely bought freddie. the line 'Another Tricky Situation ' is taken from 'its a hard life' and it was such an operation' is from another song, which has temporarily escaped my mind. its a beautiful song
    blueon March 26, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentagreed, beautiful song for a beautiful person, simle as that.

    I now apologise for saying that, it sounded really poetic in my head now it seems kinda cheesy, ah well...
    Katherine7486on April 27, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the most moving songs I've ever heard. Simply great, just think of what it may have sounded like with Fred singing? Ah, so sad to know that it wouldnot have been written if he were still here.
    Italian Phaethonon June 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit was also partially influenced by the death of Princess Diana. fact.
    A-D-A-Mon July 22, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthmm, is the time frame right on the release of the song and Diana's death? very interesting, must research
    Italian Phaethonon May 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, yes it was also influenced by the death of Diana, fitting tribute's for both.

    The line "There's a face at the window" still gets me now, the way Brian sings it is amazing.
    Weave30on January 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is one of the most amazing songs i have ever heard.
    brian sings it so well. at We Will Rock You, when they sang this, quite a few people burst into tears. beautiful song.
    ninjamonkeyson January 16, 2005   Link

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