Brian May says Queen fans always misunderstood the band's debut single

Publish Date
Thursday, 25 March 2021, 8:49AM

Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor will explore important moments from their band's iconic career in a new storyteller series on YouTube.

For the first installment of the series, the band starts at the beginning, looking back on its first-ever single, "Keep Yourself Alive."

In an archival clip, May explains that "Keep Yourself Alive" was truly one of his earliest attempts at writing music and lyrics.

"I wasn't really sure that I was a songwriter; I just sort of had this idea," he said, before explaining one of the lessons he learned from the experience. "Strange enough, the lyrics of 'Keep Yourself Alive' are meant to be kind of ... a comment. They're meant to be slightly ironical."

He continued, explaining how the song never resonated quite the way he had intended it: "I learnt very early on, through this song, that it's very difficult to be ironical in a song; people take it at face value. Basically, everyone always did think that 'Keep Yourself Alive' was just a jolly song about how great it is to be alive [laughs]. But it's actually more about asking the question,'Is there more to life than this?'"

Though written in 1970, the song didn't make it to release until 1973, when it received nominal airplay. Still, "Keep Yourself Alive" became a force in the band's live repertoire, in no small part because it was a frequent concert opener and the lead track off the band's debut album.

Watch 'Queen: The Story Begins - Keep Yourself Alive (Episode 1)' via the player above!

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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