Research

Brian May, guitarist, astrophysicist, stereography enthusiast

We were barreling down a long corridor of ivy-covered trees in Tennessee when we finally listened to Terry Gross’ interview with Brian May (Fresh Air, WHYY, August 3, 2010), guitarist of Queen, co-writer of classic songs, astrophysicist and author of a new book on stereography.

It was one of those episodes of Fresh Air that you don’t soon forget.

It was a funny thing to hear May, with his humble and polite demeanor, describe touring with Queen, writing arena anthems, the non-issue of Freddy Mercury’s sexuality, and the pain of Queen’s limited success in America largely due to our homophobia. It was vital. I also relished paying attention to the strange structure of “We Will Rock You,” and May’s nerdy explanation of how he achieved the arena-like acoustics in the studio.

Of course the interview was spurred by May’s recent book of stereography, which is related to his PhD in astrophysics.

To be have a life in the arts, and to achieve the kind of success where your artwork becomes part of the culture, is really nothing short of extraordinary. To change courses and pursue specialized academics, and then share your love of science with a general audience, speaks to an admirable ambition and confidence. What an inspiration!

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