An amazing video has been making the internet rounds recently; I had seen a few links to it, but I just now finally took the time to sit down and watch it. Not that the concept wasn’t compelling, mind you — the Muppets performing Bohemian Rhapsody? Why did I not drop everything and focus on this the moment I became aware of it? Other than my situational ADD, I have absolutely no excuse.
It is indeed a think of beauty, although I have to say that I thought Animal‘s “Mama” soliloquy went on a bit too long; I would have liked to see other characters come in and do more of the real lyrics during that section. But that’s a nitpick. Animal was always one of my favorite Muppets, along with Beaker. I was very happy to see Rowlf the Dog on piano, and I was especially pleased to see Janice taking the guitar solos. Chicks rule! Especially chicks on guitar!
I couldn’t help but be reminded of another cover of this song, one that was part of a momentous occasion in my life. A classmate of mine at U.C. Berkeley arranged the tune for string quartet, and it was performed on our graduation concert (the same concert where my senior thesis piece was played — yay me! 🙂 ).
It pains me to admit that all of this took place back in the last century, before YouTube and other assorted digital marvels, (I was a child prodigy, okay? 😉 ) so I can’t show you any documentation of it.
But I did find a few things that are in the ballpark, in more ways than one! Click Mr. Readmore to rock out, albeit in rather highbrow fashion!
I was tickled to find the version below, for string quartet plus guitar and rhythm section, because the performance took place at a high school in my hometown of Napa, California. (I was a good little private school gal myself, but I must admit that this public school had a bigger music program than my school — boo hoo!) Good on you, hometown kids!
Still, I wanted to find a version for strings alone, unaugmented by anything amplified.
I found an enticing little sample here:
This outfit, Vitamin Records, has released a number of string quartet rock ‘n’ roll tributes, which is intriguing. However, I was disappointed to find that they don’t identify the performers on the website, other than to say that they’re “the best string players and producers in the business.” I can’t tell if it’s the same performers for each album, or a different pick-up group each time. It’s kinda hard to fangirl that, guys — come on!
I found a couple other versions worth checking out. The Coda String Quartet’s cover uses a drum kit along with the quartet, which is okay I guess, but a purist might argue it’s just admitting defeat. 😛
I’d like to hear the Quartet on the Roof’s version under better conditions than this video provides.
Finally, I found this performance by The Giovanni String Quartet, which comes much closer to what I’m looking for:
My only quibble is with the tempo — a bit too slow and laid back for the ethos of the song.
I have yet to find a version that recreates the energy and excitement of that graduation concert — but of course, that has much to do with the power of the memory for me.
Still, I think there is a take-home lesson here:
Yo, classical musicians — if you’re going to rock out, ROCK OUT! No half-hearted, polite, reserved renditions, please! I think there’s a whiff of transgression around the whole enterprise that causes people to hold back. P’shaw! I’m with Martin Luther on this one — if you’re going to sin, “sin boldly!” 😀