I have always been a huge Queen fan. I grew up listening to the band’s music with my family, and I can distinctly remember getting their “Greatest Hits” album for Christmas one year. My appreciation for Queen’s music intensified when I had the chance to see the tribute band Almost Queen for the first time in 2007.
I was 14 years old and I was not as familiar with Queen’s music as some other audience members. But the music was incredible, and I got to meet the members of the band after the show. I remember telling them that I wanted to be a musician — I play the flute — and they were nothing but encouraging. The lead singer — the one who “plays” Freddie Mercury— had his hand on my shoulder the whole time we talked.
I continued to see Almost Queen sporadically until I got to community college and had to work on the weekends, forcing me to give up seeing the band for a couple years. My mom and brother continued to go to their concerts and would tell me how great they were.
I got the chance to see them again in November 2014. I was excited to finally see the band I remembered being talented and personable both on and off the stage.
During the show, they covered big hits as well as some lesser-known songs like “White Queen” and “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” I fell in love with the tribute band and Queen’s music all over again, and I looked forward to seeing Almost Queen the following year.
In the meantime, I explored even more of Queen’s music. I listened to “Don’t Stop Me Now” for the first time, and I was instantly in love. It was upbeat, catchy and positive.
It got me through one of my most challenging journalism classes — Audio/Visual Newsgathering — and inspired me when loved ones were in and out of the hospital with surgeries. It was emotionally hard seeing loved ones suffer, but having “Don’t Stop Me Now” to listen to never ceased to put a smile on my face — even if only for the duration of the song.
When Almost Queen tickets for that upcoming November show went on sale, I jumped at the opportunity to see them again. I looked forward to the show, counting down the months, weeks and days.
When I picked up the tickets on the day of the show, I saw the bass player walking into the auditorium before the concert. My brother and I noticed him and said hi. He commented on how early we were for the show.
When the concert finally started, it was amazing as always. The first act focused on some lesser-known Queen songs, but they promised more hits in the second act.
Intermission came too soon and lasted far too long.
Then, the bassist took the microphone. He told the audience about the band’s social media accounts, and he said, “There’s a girl here who’s very active on social media, always commenting on our stuff.”
My heart began to pound, hoping it was me.
“Ashley, this song’s for you.”
My mom and I exchanged looks and I screamed. I was smiling ear to ear.
The song they dedicated? “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
After the show, I saw the bassist and gave him a big hug, thanking him for the song dedication and for playing my favorite Queen song.
That night the song I always loved took on a new meaning. Now, it is not only my go-to happy song, it is the song that reminds me of how loved I am, even by people I only see once a year.
Ashley Paskill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.