Spread Your Wings

"Spread Your Wings" is a power ballad by the rock band Queen, from their 1977 album News of the World.[2] Written by bassist John Deacon, it was released as the A-side of the single "Spread Your Wings"/"Sheer Heart Attack" in 1978. According to music writer Benoit Clerc, "Spread Your Wings" was chosen as the 2nd single from News of the World because the band regretted releasing "Tie Your Mother Down" as a single from A Day at the Races over Deacon's "You and I."[3]

"Spread Your Wings"
Queen Spread Your Wings.png
UK single picture sleeve
Single by Queen
from the album News of the World
B-side"Sheer Heart Attack"
Released10 February 1978
Recorded1977 at Sarm West and Wessex Studios
GenreHard rock[1]
Length4:32
LabelEMI (UK)
Songwriter(s)John Deacon
Producer(s)Queen, assisted by Mike Stone
Queen singles chronology
"We Are the Champions"
(1977)
"Spread Your Wings"
(1978)
"It's Late"
(1978)
Music video
"Spread Your Wings" on YouTube

BackgroundEdit

The lyrics of "Spread Your Wings" tells of a character named Sammy, who works cleaning floors at a bar but dreams of improving his life despite his boss telling him that he has no ambition.[3] Deacon has said:

The song has to do with a number of personal experiences from recent years. I'd rather not say in detail, because I don't like to explain songs. People should figure it out for themselves, I think...It's not always easy, let me tell you. You deal with a lot of things that are not always pleasant. Of course, money is wonderful, but I don't need to be very rich. I just don't want to fall back into a state of poverty, which a number of fairly famous musicians have ended up in. I want to try to keep something for the future.[3]

Queen FAQ author Daniel Ross described "Spread Your Wings" as Deacon's "first attempt at narrative songwriting."[4] Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury considered it to be the best song Deacon had written to date.[5]

Musicologist Nick Braae describes the structure of "Spread Your Wings" as being somewhat unusual, in that after the initial verse and refrain centered on the key of D major, there is a bridge centered on the key of B minor, followed by an instrumental bridge that starts moving back to D major for the next verse-refrain pair.[6] Deacon used this double-bridge strategy in several other songs, including "You and I" and "Need Your Loving Tonight."[6]

The track features Freddie Mercury on piano and vocals, Brian May on electric guitar, Roger Taylor on drums, and John Deacon on bass and acoustic guitars.[3]

The song is unusual for Queen in that it uses a 3rd person narrative.[7] It is also the only Queen single that does not have the rest of the group providing backing vocals to Mercury's lead.[3][7][8]

"Spread Your Wings" was not released as a single in North America. However, the live version from Live Killers was featured as the B-side to Queen's 1979 hit, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.[9]

ReceptionEdit

Dayton Daily News critic Gary Nuhn called it "a song with Beatles-like lyrics of a man pulling himself up.[10] Courier-News critic Bill Bleyer says that it makes a similar point as the more popular song, "We Are the Champions," – that "while the established order continues to hold down the young, they can still make it if they try" – it does so better and "without overpowering the listener."[11] Ross described it as a "melancholy anthem" that has "the same sense of bombast as 'We Are the Champions' but shot through with existential sadness and a desire to burst the shackles of mundane employment."[4]

Clerc praised Freddy Mercury's vocal delivery, saying that he sang the song "superbly, emphasizing the lyrics with his compelling vocal dexterity."[3] Andrew Wild said that it's a "commercial song with a terrific chorus" and is "sung with real conviction by Freddie Mercury."[8]

Ultimate Classic Rock critic Eduardo Rivadavia rated the song as the 4th best song Deacon wrote for Queen, praising its "rising appreciation of musical drama."[7]

A live version of the song appears on the band's 1979 album Live Killers.[2] The song peaked at number 34 in the UK Singles Chart.

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Spread Your Wings" was shot in January 1978 in the garden of Roger Taylor's house in Surrey, on the same day the band also shot the video for "We Will Rock You."[3][5] The video was directed by Rock Flicks.[3]

PersonnelEdit

ChartsEdit

Chart (1978) Peak
position
Germany (Official German Charts)[13] 29
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 20
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 26
UK Singles (OCC)[16] 34

Cover versionsEdit

This song was covered by German power metal band Blind Guardian on their 1992 album Somewhere Far Beyond. The same recording reappeared on their 1996 album The Forgotten Tales.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Live Killers - Queen". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b Your Wings News of the World: Spread Your Wings (Track 5) Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 11 July 2011
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Clerc, Benoit (2020). Queen: All the Songs. Running Press. pp. 242–245. ISBN 9780762471232.
  4. ^ a b Ross, Daniel (2020). Queen FAQ. Backbeat Books. pp. 98–99, 294. ISBN 9781617137280.
  5. ^ a b Blake, Mark (2011). Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen. Hachette. pp. 214–215. ISBN 9780306819735.
  6. ^ a b Braae, Nick (2021). Rock and Rhapsodies: The Music of Queen. Oxford University Press. pp. 21–23, 52, 60. ISBN 9780197526736.
  7. ^ a b c Rivadavia, Eduardo (19 August 2013). "Top 10 John Deacon Queen Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  8. ^ a b Wild, Andrew (2018). Queen: Every Album, Every Song. Sonicbond. p. 56–57. ISBN 9781789520033.
  9. ^ "Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love". 45cat.com. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  10. ^ Nuhn, Gary (1 December 1977). "Other Queen players come into their own". Dayton Daily News. p. 35. Retrieved 2 August 2022 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Bleyer, Bill (21 January 1978). "Loads of laughs are waiting on Martin Mull's greatest 'hits' LP". Courier-News. p. B-7. Retrieved 2 August 2022 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Spread Your Wings: Song Analysis Queen Songs. Retrieved 17 November 2018
  13. ^ "Queen – Spread Your Wings" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Queen" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Queen – Spread Your Wings" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  17. ^ Popoff, Martin (2018). Queen: Album by Album. Voyageur Press. p. 108.

External linksEdit