Back in 1980, I could count the number of vinyl albums I owned on one hand. I was 12 years old, and the only way I had of listening to music was an ancient turntable in the corner of my family’s living room. I had a number of 45s at the time, but only a handful of vinyl albums: The Grease soundtrack, Billy Joel’s Glass Houses, Queen’s The Game, and Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy. If you wanted a window into my life as a pre-teenager, there it is.
On the Queen album, I liked “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust” and rather than buy two singles from the same album, I went ahead and bought the entire album. And I’m ever so glad that I did, because one of the songs on side B just may have saved my life.
The song in question is “Don’t try Suicide,” and I thought of it when I learned that former big leaguer and Cubs player Ryan Freel killed himself at the age of 36. Anytime somebody ends his own life it’s a tragic situation, because that person throws away any chance of having good things happen to them ever again.
As the Most Awkward Kid who Ever Lived, I had thoughts about doing myself in. But after listening to Freddie Mercury’s counsel, I decided against it, and I’m glad that I did. Missing out on high school, college, and everything after would have been a real shame.
It’s too bad that Ryan Freel, and everyone else who lets these thoughts get the better of them, didn’t have a Queen song, or an REM song, or anything else that can act as a deterrent. That’s what a person in that situation needs to find, and then hang onto as a metaphorical life saver, because that’s exactly what it is.
Freddie Mercury isn’t around anymore to offer my thanks to, so I’m going to do the next best thing. Consider this an invitation to listen to the song, in all of its cattiness. It carries a serious message, but is delivered in a nonchalant, off-handed way. I think that’s what worked for me, all those years ago. Listen to the song, think about its message, and then get on with your life, because it’s the only one you’ll ever get. And the gawky 12 year-old that’s helping me write this thanks you.