White Queen (As It Began)
White Queen (As It Began) is a progressive rock song by Queen first released as track A3 on the album Queen II on 1974-03-08. It is a romantic song composed by Brian May in 1968, before Queen was formed. The song was recorded in August 1973 with Brian playing electric and acoustic guitar, Freddie Mercury singing lead and backup vocals, Roger Taylor playing drums, and John Deacon playing bass. This is one of May's most technically complicated songs.
The album version segues seamlessly from Father to Son with a length of 4:35, but a stand-alone version of the song, with a length of only 4:18, was released on Queen's First E.P. on 1977-05-20. A live version from Queen's fourth BBC Session was recorded on 1974-04-03 and released on the album On Air.
Brian May explained that the song is about a girl he was desperately attracted to in his biology class. He thought she was the perfect woman, but he couldn't work up the nerve to ask her out. May drew further inspiration for the song after reading The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth by Robert Graves.
In the song, Brian explains how he adores a woman, but, lacking the courage to say how he feels, he pines after her from afar. His sorrow peaks when he realizes that he has stayed silent for too long, and will now never have a chance to be with her.
This song resonates strongly with me, not just because it's well composed and powerfully emotional, but because I too was very shy around girls through my teen years and failed to express my emotions and instead crushed on them from afar. I have a particular girl in mind when I hear this song, and, just like the song, when I finally did work up the nerve to ask her on a date, I discovered she was already seeing someone else. However, according to Brian May he ended up becoming good friends with the girl in the song. Alas!
I've mostly shed my shyness, and I don't hold such pathetic crushes anymore, but the shyness, the crush, and with it, this song, was such an important part of my past, that it has carved out a permanent place in my character.
So sad her eyes, smiling dark eyes. So sad her eyes, as it began. On such a breathless night as this Upon my brow the lightest kiss I walked alone. And all around the air did sway My lady soon will stir this way In sorrow known. The white queen walks And the night grows pale. Stars of lovingness in her hair. Heeding unheard pleading one word. So sad, my eyes, she cannot see. How did thee fare? What have thee seen? The mother of the willow green, I call her name. And 'neath her window have I stayed I loved the footsteps that she made And when she came. White queen how my heart did ache And dry my lips no word would make. So still I wait. My goddess hear my darkest fear, I speak too late. It's for evermore that I wait. Dear friend goodbye, No tears in my eyes. So sad it ends, as it began.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Nx_SVPiXnWM - Album version.
- youtube.com/watch?v=f8usNj4x9NA - Live version, 1975.
- queensongs.info/song-analysis/songwriting-analyses/no-synth-era/queen-ii/white-queen-as-it-began - Song analysis.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_II - Wikipedia page for Queen II.