Guitarist Brian May wrote this while lead singer Freddie Mercury was dying of AIDS. It was Mercury's last official album with Queen, and when it was released, very few people knew he had the disease.
The lyrics are about the need to press on and make the most out of life while you can still enjoy it. It is inevitably a comment on Mercury's worsening condition, and his attitude towards life - May noted his incredible courage in the Days of our Lives documentary. "He never moaned, he never said 'my life is s--t, this is terrible, I hate it,'" said May. "He had an incredible strength and peace."
The song's placing as the final track on Innuendo is notable, as it's likely that the band thought that this might be the last album Mercury would be healthy enough to perform on before his death. In the sessions, he made enough recordings to provide the band with material to release the posthumous 1995 album Made In Heaven.
This was used in the movie Moulin Rouge. It is performed in an operatic style by Jim Broadbent and Nicole Kidman in a scene that sets up the climax of the movie.
Suggestion credit: Daphne - Saint John
In a 2005 poll by digital TV channel Music Choice where 45,000 adults across Europe were asked which song they would like played at their funeral, this was the favorite.
The video is mainly just clips of old Queen videos and a few live performances, but it is so cleverly edited and spliced together that it works as a video of it's own.
Suggestion credit: Mjn Seifer - England
This song was performed in dramatic style in 1997 with Elton John on guest vocals with an Italian ballet trope. It would be John Deacon's last performance with the band, and last public appearance - he retired from music after the performance.
#okcbearbie from Okc/texas New found fan, love you Freddie you were right you are a legend, fly high, thank you for the gift of art/music you did so much for the music industry and lgbt community, thank you for paving the way for many behind you, as you shine still to this day, we love you and miss you
Rebecca from MichiganWe love you Freddie! You were and still are a legend! "My make up may be flaking but my smile still stays on" My smile still stays on whenever I hear this song! Love you! RIP
Mls from New JerseyI can't get over believing Freddie wrote "The Show Must Go On". Especially referencing the 'skin flaking' and about 'butterfly wings'. Anyway I thought they had said they would all be credited as writers of their songs. No one person would be credited. The lyrics sound soulfully "Freddie", at that time of unbelievable change he was graced to handle.
AnonymousI only found out about this song by watching the credits of Bohemian Rhapsody. I just love this song and wish that Freddy would have lived longer so we could all enjoy his incredible talent
Marg from Calgarynoone will replace freddie
Mary from ArizonaThis is my all time favorite Queen song. The strength behind Freddie's voice at a time when he was so gravely ill is so inspiring to me. He pushed himself right up until the end, never complained, and endured unbelievable suffering (which no one deserves). Yet he delivered some of his strongest vocals during that time. It's amazing and shows how passionate he was about life and music. When I'm challenged in my own life, I think about this song and how giving up is not an option. Thank you, Freddie! RIP, Darling. We still miss you!
Scott from Usa"I'll face it with a grin, I'm never giving in"... words to live by.
Markantney from BiloxiJun 2015,
Of course we know the truth of Freddie being gravely ill during this recording but I'll be #amned if I can note a lick of illness in his delivery?? It's not only one of his best vocals, of course with it being him, would make it an alltimer vocal overall.
What a perfect group in how almost all of their biggest hits were written by the other members of the band and they didn't allow their egos, infighting, like many others to break them up.
It actually took the hand of Death/Fate to break them up, wow.
And great story Gaby about your family/husband.
Gaby from Munich, GermanyMy husband used to be a big Queen fan. He knew pretty much about the band- especially about Freddy. Not long after I met him I knew almost every song and the lyrics. Then a good friend´s father died- and a year later my own dad. That was when my husband said „When I die, I want you to play „The show must go on“ at my funeral. Of course nobody seriously thought about dying at that time. Thats why it was hard to believe that a heart attack took him away from me short before his 41st Birthday. His funeral took place in an old catholic church in a small bavarian town. The priest did what I asked him for. In his speech he translated the lyrics and explained why this very song was so special for my husband. And I was glad too see my husband´s wish fulfilled - G.D. Munich Germany
Pierce from Peoria, IlThis is definitely one of my favorite Queen songs. It just shows how brave Freddie was brave through everything he suffered. I've heard that, when he was going to record it, a lot of people weren't sure if he would be strong enough to sing such high octaves. However he finished it with one try after he consumed some vodka.
Krystle from Killeen, TxQueen is and always will be my favorite band of all time. Their music speaks volumes to me and there isn't a Queen song I hate. I have their entire discography and listen to it non-stop. This song means so much to me because Freddie pored his whole being into singing this song and you can really hear how he feels.R.I.P Freddie.
Rachel from London, United Kingdomis this song available on dvd anywhere?
Kris from Wichita, KsI must say i like alot of Queen songs but this song to me is their best song. When i hear it i start to tear up because you hear Freddy's voice and i think he knew he was about to die and this song was kind of a "don't worry guys you can still listen to my music and remember the good times."
Alice from Bournemouth, United KingdomEvery line takes my breath away. Everything about this song points towards the final curtain, and his final performance. It amazes me how much strengh and dedication he had. I don't think he would have survived for as long as he did without his music. Thank u freddie, you will live in my heart forever xx
Maziar from Tehran, IranI wish i could visit Freddi just for another time(only one time)on the stage!!!!!GOD!!!
Bella from PretoriaHa!I knew it was the same one in Moulin Rouge! This song is so powerful!
Tanya from Dayton, OhI don't know if this song was written as a result of Freddie being terminally ill, but in some way, I always looked at this song as a Good-Bye. I believe the video only showed pictures and fragments of old clips because at that point, Freddie was too weak and fragile as one can see on Innuendo. I haven't listened to those songs in years, it's just still so emotional.
Bess from San Diego, CaAwesome, in both the literal and slang sense of the word. I loved it before I knew the story behind it (which was five minutes ago). And for you people insisting that it's about this or that: Hey, if you really want to know, ask Brian May. You interpret it your own way. To me, it seems to fight against life. "Roll with the punches." Don't let hardship bring you down. You still have a life to live.
Becky from Locust Grove, GaThis song LITERALLY saved my life. I realized if this dying man had enough soul left in him and had the ability to belt out this song, somehow I found the will to carry on.
Jaimie from Nelson, New ZealandI didn't realise that Freddie was dying when he sang this song, it's hard to believe. he seemed so strong and vivid in this song!!! this song is my absolute favourite!!!! nothing will ever take its place. it relates so well to anything that happens, its like it was written about that thing. i will never forget the line "my soul is painted like the wings of butterflies" it seems like a simple metaphor, but butterfly wings have a special pattern. they are, when lain flat, naturally designed to look like a face - with eyes and a mouth. also, they are brightly coloured. all this fanciness is to ward off predators. so if a soul was painted like the wings of butterflies, its more of a protection than a beautification. listen to the song again after knowing this and its quite dramatic. "I CAN FLY, MY FRIEND!!!"
Stefano from Rome, ItalyHagit, Brian May wrote this song, not Freddie. Freddie was extremely amazed when Brian introduced it to him. «Darling, I will sing it and I'll give it my all» seem to have been his first words.
Pat from Loretto, PaThis song is my favorit, and it all most makes me sad to lission to it.
Stephen from Denver, CoMy favorite song. Queen was incredible and Freddie was just a real class act. Makes you think about all the as*holes in the entertainment industry now and how they sleep at night.
Polly from London, EnglandThis is a Queen epic.It is difficult to wear a mask forever--
Jonathon from Clermont, FlI like the drum part at the beginning, and Freddy, who is the lead singer on this song, not Brian, has an extremely clear and powerful vocal performance on this song, making it very emotional to listen to.
Mike from Nashville, TnThe fact that Freddies voice is so powerful even as he had less than a year to live was amazing. He weighed about 90 pounds,(remember the video for "These are the days of our lives"), and yet his voice had a definate "F--- You" quality towards his illness. A classic.
Hagit from Rishon, Israelfreddy was a brave man to write such a song, wasn't he?
Joe from Dublin, Irelandtoo right, sarah - my blood runs cold and every hair stands on end every time i hear that bit but let's not forget "i face it with a grin... i'm never givin' in... ON WITH THE SHOW" the lead guitar then after that bit just paralyses me
"i'll top the bill, i'll overkill, i have to find the will to carry on... on with the show"
Sarah from Fort Atkinson, WiI love this song. my favorite Queen song. My favorite part is "I can fly my friends! *cool drums/guitar* The show must go on!". such a powerful song
Katie from Somewhere, NjWas the video for this done after Freddie died? Because that one has clips from every other Queen video, but no new footage. Just wondering.
Jeanette from Irvine, Cao freddie sings it with brian on backing vocals. i get it now.
Jeanette from Irvine, Cawait does freddie or brian sing this song? i'm still not clear on that.
Alicia from Tamaqua, PaFreddie wanted to write a song that sort of discribed what he was thinking and feeling while dealing with his illness. He couldn't come up with anything, so Brian did it. Brian May got into Freddie's head and this song was the end result. Very genius, and so very sad at the same time. So this song was about Freddie.
Jeanette from Irvine, Cabrian has a good voice. those three (taylor may and obviously mercury) all have really great voices. this is my favorite queen song except for bohemian rhapsody. its heavier than a lot of queen songs but its really good and it makes us all miss freddie!
Katie from Somewhere, NjI love this song, especially when the whole band sings "The Show Must Go On." Once, I was on a bus trip at like 3 am and I was sleeping with my iPod on, and then I woke up just as this song came on, and I got really into it and it pumped me up... try feeling upbeat and energetic on a dinky uncomfortable school bus at 3 am while everyone around you is sleeping lol. And then right after it was done, my batteries died. It was so weird because it happened JUST as the song ended!
Bryan from Melbourne, FlMakes me sad at the fact that Freddie's not still here....
Kathy from N-u-l, EnglandThis is one of my all-time fave Queen songs, with Bohemian Rhapsody (of course) and somebody to Love. I think Elton John did a pretty good job of this at the FM tribute concert.
Alicia from Tamaqua, PaYea I knew that.... I have the video for "I want it all" Brian sings this part...
I'm a man with a one track mind So much to do in one lifetime (people do you hear me) Not a man for compromise and where's and why's and living lies So I'm living it all, yes I'm living it all And I'm giving it all, and I'm giving it all
Jake from Newport, NhFreddie sings this one, and I Want It All, with Brian singing one line in I Want It All and backing vocals in this track!
Alicia from Tamaqua, PaChesney, Columbus, OH, Oh yes I know that, but eventhough it wasn't written about Freddie's illness, It relates to him in many ways. Just think about it. Like this song can relate to you in ways, aswell as everyone else. But it wasn't written about us, was it now darling? Just something to fold up and put in your back pocket.
Alicia from Tamaqua, PaI adore this song. Brian does indeed have a beautiful voice. Another song he sings in is "I want it all". I just love that song aswell!!! Its so me. Anywho, this is a beautiful song. Brian did a very good job.
Freddie from Orlando, Fl(Remake?)
Freddie from Orlando, FlOh Lord youre RIGHT! see I was thinking of Who wants to Live Foever. Im sorry. Youre totally right. I was thinking of the other song.
Freddie from Orlando, FlVery intersting that you know that.... where did you hear it? beacuse if you like to hear it from Brinas mouth you can buy "Greatest Video Hits II" and take a look at the second disk.
Chuck from Joppa, Md, MdNo, this song was not made for the movie "Highlander" as the comment below this one states. It was actually written five years after the release of said movie. Brian May wrote it about Freddie's illness as well as his divorce, duel meanings both stressing the need to press on despite emotionally painful and/or dire circumstances.
Freddie from Orlando, FlAnyway, The band wrote this song along with a few others like "Princes of teh Universe" for a particular film... now I've forgotten the name of it... but it was about a man who was immortal, and you know as he would fall in love would have to see his lovers grow old and die wheile he stayed the same.. and so it sort of brought up this idea of who wants to live forever into brains head... you know, when love must die. i should try and remeber the name of that movie. If I do I'll try and post it here.
Freddie from Orlando, FlI'm not sure its neccicariliy dark, its passionate, oh, its spiritfilled, yes- it has a lot to do with life aswell as performance and such, and it was intersting that it happened around the time of Freddies death and Brians divorce. SOngs dont have to always be so specific, they can be a collection of emotion, experince... just whatevers in ytou heart. its almost a way to get it out WITHOUT perfectly explaining it... because somtimes its not perfectly expalinable. its just there. this goes for a lot of songs, including borap. its the gift that music is, and it reaches past explination to whats going on inside.
Chesney from Columbus, OhThis was not written because Freddie was dying of AIDS, this song was written by Brian May, it was about the horrible divorce he was going through at the time.
Andrea from Nashville, TnThis is a passionate song I love the nicole kidman version TOO
Lig from Tel Aviv, IsraelReally great song that I think u can relate it to alot of points in life..
David from Haskell, NjOne of their most powerful songs. Its dark, but has hope and thus some light. When Freddie died, I played this song on a radio show and dedicated it to him. His voice is missed. Watching the video reminds me of his humor, humanness. Thanks Freddie for everything!
Randall from Birmingham, Englandone of my favourite queen songs, just because of how strong and passionatley freddie sings despite not having long to live
16-tear-old Lorde wrote the lyrics to "Royals" at home in just half an hour. She was inspired by the "ridiculous, unrelatable, unattainable opulence" that runs through such albums as Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die.