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Music / A Day at the Races

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"Let us never lose the lessons we have learned"

A Day at the Races is the fifth studio album by British Glam Rock band Queen, released in 1976. It is the direct follow up to their hit album A Night at the Opera. Much like its predecessor, it's named after a Marx Brothers film (in this case, A Day at the Races). Riding off of the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody", the Freddie Mercury penned "Somebody To Love" (Not to be confused with the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name) is the album's most famous song (with "Tie Your Mother Down" at a close second, and "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" is also a hit).



Side One

  1. "Tie Your Mother Down" (4:48)
  2. "You Take My Breath Away" (5:09)
  3. "Long Away" (3:34)
  4. "The Millionaire Waltz" (4:54)
  5. "You and I" (3:25)

Side Two

  1. "Somebody to Love" (4:56)
  2. "White Man" (4:59)
  3. "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (2:54)
  4. "Drowse" (3:45)
  5. "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)" (5:50)

Principal Members:

  • John Deacon - bass, guitar
  • Brian May - guitar, backing and lead vocals, plastic piano, harmonium
  • Freddie Mercury - lead vocals, piano
  • Roger Taylor - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals, guitar, timpani, gong


Caaaaannn... anybodyyyyyyy, find meeeee... the tropeeees that this album provides examplesssss... oooffff...

  • Bookends: The opening track, "Tie Your Mother Down", features a Shepard tone made of multiple harmonized guitars looped backwards at the end of the intro. The closing track, "Teo Torriatte", ends with the same Shepard tone.
  • Credits Gag: The liner notes respectively credit Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury with providing "pandemonium" and "tantrums."
  • Epic Rocking: The 5:50 "Teo Torriatte".
  • Evil Colonialist: "White Man" is narrated by a Native American witnessing the colonization of the Americas, openly viewing the European settlers as harbingers of a hell on Earth. Among other things, the song describes how the colonists destroyed the natural landscape, massacred the indigenous population, and left the survivors in eternal shame and disgrace, all while using the Bible as a flimsy justification for their actions.
  • Foreshadowing: "Tie Your Mother Down" begins with an instrumental rendition of "White Man" before the main song kicks into gear.
  • Grand Finale: "Teo Torriatte" definitely has vibes of this, what with its amassed choir of children, its universally understood message of love, etc.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: "Teo Torriatte" has a Japanese title and a bilingual chorus with both the English and the Japanese lyrics having essentially the same meaning, although it uses a slightly archaic romanisation (and additionally, "Toriatte" is misspelled on the cover of A Day at the Races, although it was spelled correctly for the single the band released in Japan); "手をとりあって" would be more commonly romanised as "Te o Toriatte" these days.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: "Somebody To Love," naturally. The narrator is implicitly having a crisis of faith because of how empty their life feels without companionship.
  • In the Style of: "Somebody to Love" is in the style of Aretha Franklin, of whom Freddie Mercury was a fan.
  • Intercourse with You: The singer of "Tie Your Mother Down" sure would do just about anything to get into his girlfriend's pants. This includes drowning her kid brother.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Somebody to Love" has a hugely iconic one — "Caaaaaannn...?"
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Tie Your Mother Down": Frustrated lyrics advocating extreme measures to avoid family interference with a date, sung in big massed choruses to an incredibly upbeat guitar riff.
    • "Somebody To Love" is a chorus/gospel song with epic harmonies, about how the narrator is painfully depressed and begging God or ANYONE to help get rid of their loneliness.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Millionaire Waltz" comes a bit close to averting this with millionaire appearing a few times in the lyrics, but unfortunately that doesn't exactly count.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Drowse" is a subtle attack at older folks who spend the back half of their lives complaining about children nowadays and how they were so much cooler when they were younger. It works to a surprisingly great effect.
  • Obsession Song: "Somebody to Love", where the protagonist absolutely wants "somebody to love", almost to the point of despair.
    I get down on my knees
    And I start to pray
    Lord — somebody — somebody
    Can anybody find me — somebody to love?
  • One-Man Song: "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy", which is unusually narrated by the man in question.
  • One-Word Title: "Drowse".
  • Performance Video: The music video for "Somebody to Love" alternates between footage of Queen performing the song in the studio and concert footage of the band.
  • The Power of Love: "You Take My Breath Away" and "Somebody to Love" are both songs lamenting how wonderful a certain partner is.
  • Production Throwback: The album cover is a redrawn version of that for A Night at the Opera the previous year. Among other things, the white background is changed to black and the figures are in different poses (some more noticeable than others).
  • Product Placement: Brian May prominently wears a jacket bearing the logo for the band's US label, Elektra Records, in the music video for "Somebody to Love".
  • The Savage Indian: "White Man" comments on the stereotype. The narrator, a Native American, notes how "the red man knows war with his hands and his knives," but contrasts this with the European colonists who waged genocide against his people, describing this as true savagery.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist:
    • As confirmed by Freddie himself, all of the backing vocals in "You Take My Breath Away" are just him ...damn.
    • Roger did his own backing vocals on "Drowse". Otherwise the album largely averts this trope. While Freddie dominates the lead vocals (80% of the tracks are sung by him), it's a fairly balanced three-way-split when it comes to harmonies, besides the aforementioned exceptions.
  • Shout-Out: Like the album before it, it's named after a Marx Brothers film.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Brian May sings lead vocals on "Long Away".
    • Engineer Mike Stone sings the lines "Hey boy, where do you get it from? Hey boy, where did you go?" in the bridge of "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy". During live performances, Roger Taylor would take over for this part.
    • Roger Taylor sings lead vocals on "Drowse".
  • Villain Protagonist: "Tie Your Mother Down" seems harmless enough — locking the girl's father out of the house and tying down her mother is one thing — but the line "Take your little brother swimmin' with a brick" pushes it over the line into this.