Queen songs are theatrical and glamorous, brimming with life in excess and bringing about a good time. However, there is one particular tune in the catalog of rock royalty that tugs at the heart and dampens the eye. The meaning behind the band’s beloved 1975 success, “Love of My Life,” is one of pain. The song details a love lost, painting heartache through desperate lyrics and illustrating agony against an ornate arrangement fit for the theatre.
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The straightforward lyrics say so much with so little, but one question has always remained: Who is the song about?
The Big Question
“Love of My Life” was written by Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in 1975 for the album A Night at the Opera. During interviews regarding the song, Mercury maintained it was written about no one, however, many have speculated it was about his then-girlfriend Mary Austin.
The two lived together for several years but ended their romantic relationship in 1976 when Mercury told Austin of his sexuality. Austin, however, remained a constant in Mercury’s life. They stayed dear friends until his death in 1991.
The frontman often considered her a soulmate of sorts, once stating in an interview (according to Lesley-Ann Jones’ book, Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury), “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that’s enough for me.”
As to the muse behind the forlorn tune, Austin is a great guess, but the heartbroken ballad arrived the year before the couple called it quits. It could be that Mercury saw the writing on the wall of a once-in-a-lifetime love that could no longer be.
Love of my life, you’ve hurt me, Mercury’s sparkling tenor bubbles up from the harp-punctuated arrangement, You’ve broken my heart / And now you leave me. He sets up the song’s desperate situation, pleading:
Love of my life, can’t you see?
Bring it back, bring it back
Don’t take it away from me
Because you don’t know
What it means to me
He continues to beg throughout the song, desperately lilting, Love of my life, don’t leave me / You’ve taken my love (All my love) / You now desert me. He assures there will come a day when this is blown over / and everything’s all by the way.
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When I grow older, he sings, almost like a prophecy of the way his love for Austin lived on long after their relationship ended. I will be there at your side / To remind you how I still love you / I still love you.
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