Queen’s Roger Taylor Releases Short Film, New Track, Journey’s End, @Listen!
Queen drummer and songwriter Roger Taylor delivers a haunting musical / visual odyssey steeped in reflection and contemplation with his new cinematic short film, based on a new track written and performed by Taylor. The audio visual work is exclusively available for download on iTunes. Purchase @ this location.
Journey’s End is Taylor’s first fresh solo work since his rowdy, politically charged 2013 album Fun On Earth. But this new addition to his prolific canon could hardly be more different in tone in sound. Symphonic in scale and autumnal in mood, Journey’s End is Taylor’s ‘September Song’, a highly personal reflection on earthly mortality and ephemeral beauty.
Spanning precisely six minutes and 50 seconds, Journey’s End exceeds the epic running time of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody by almost a full minute. Musically it offers a warm, immersive bittersweet blend of lush chamber-pop ballad and widescreen ambient sound painting, which is graced in its latter half by a luminous, free-flowing guitar solo.
Inspired more by classical than rock sources, Journey’s End is deeper and broader than a conventional rock ballad. “It’s a ‘piece’,” Taylor says, “which is why there is a long solo in it. I’ve just let it take its own course. I just didn’t want to make it quick, edit it. I wanted it to be fairly contemplative, fairly dreamlike, a mood piece.”
Taylor wrote Journey’s End around a “rather lovely chord sequence, slightly in the mode of some of the turn of the century composers. It has a quite whimsical, rather fatalistic atmosphere. It’s basically about thoughts of mortality. It is a sort of acceptance of the fact that this a journey, and that journey will come to an end. Even the bass sequence, which is almost random, is a plodding footstep kind of thing. A journey towards the tail end, the September of one’s years.”
Directed by the BAFTA-winning actor and filmmaker Stuart Brennan, this sumptuously shot mini-epic has an otherworldly, elegiac feel to match the song’s rueful, metaphysical mood. The film was mostly shot around Taylor’s house in Truro in his home region of Cornwall in southwest England. He appears on screen throughout, but as a shadowy figure playfully half-disguised behind sunglasses and stylish hat, striding through the landscape like a Magritte painting come to life.
“I didn’t really want my face in it”, Taylor laughs. Even so, he is instantly recognizable from the overcoat, the graying goatee, the monogram ring. His actress and film-maker wife Sarina, who co-produced the Journey’s End film, also performs in a gothic devil-angel danse macabre sequence shot under the magnificent vaulted ceiling of Truro Cathedral, where Taylor was a chorister in his youth.
Footage of ecstatic concert crowds and adoring close-ups of heroically battered Fender guitars also serve as totemic reminders of Taylor’s five-decade career as a high-octane live rock performer and multi-instrumentalist. Memories and ghosts, distant echoes and personal connections, all are intertwined in this sublime audio-visual rhapsody. These are the days of his life.
The Journey’s End film feels like a waking dream. Lustrous, ever-shifting colour filters and quick-change camera speed effects enhance the overall sense of an enchanted cinematic reverie. Besides making great use of the strikingly lovely Cornish landscape, with its ruggedly beautiful cliffs and idyllic woodland glades, the film also features stunning aerial footage of Chinese mountains.
This mountain imagery reflects one of the key inspirations behind Journey’s End, Frank Capra’s classic 1937 movie Lost Horizon, about a mystical secret community nestled high in the Tibetan peaks. “A plane goes down and the survivors are lost in the Himalayas, and they find this city of Shangri-La where there is a kind of Utopian perfection,” Taylor explains. “It’s a great mood piece, and I had that sort of atmosphere in my head when I was writing the song.”
The “dreadful year” of 2016, as Taylor describes it, may also have had a hand in prompting Journey’s End. Last year the Queen family lost two of their most beloved friends and collaborators, David Bowie and George Michael. Taylor confesses he would have loved to have worked more with Bowie: “had we done an album together, it would have been fantastic”. But he shrugs off ancient conjecture about Michael becoming Queen’s official front man after Freddie Mercury’s death: “He was following a different path. He was used to working with quieter instrumentation, not this massive great wall of sound. I don’t think it would have worked.”
Bowie is clearly still in Taylor’s thoughts, and his untimely death last year certainly casts a shadow over Journey’s End. “Everybody’s leaving at some point, and as you get older you think about it more,” Taylor sighs. “I don’t think anyone in their twenties thinks about that kind of thing, but of course, inevitably, one is forced to confront the fact. As I think David Bowie said, ‘I embrace age’. I am not sure he meant it, but then he did say, ‘the only drawback is the dying bit that is shit!'”
Journey’s End is a stand-alone personal statement from Taylor, but he remains firmly committed to his main musical project with Queen. Indeed, he is already gearing up for a busy year on the road with his longtime partner Brian May touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. The band begins a 26-date concert tour across North America from 23rd June ending 5th August in Houston. Queen + Adam Lambert then play Europe and the UK later in the year performing 26 dates from 1st November to December 16.
“The main thrust of what I do is still really Queen, the mother ship,” Taylor nods. “But in the times in between, I occasionally do have an idea, a little project, which is what this was really. And then I feel free to indulge myself. This piece is a journey, a sort of realisation of coming up to the end of that journey. This has been an incredible journey – our career, our band Queen, which we thought was over with the death of Freddie, it just seems to continue, almost with a life of its own. And as long as people want to see us, we will be happy to indulge them.”
Journey’s End. The Music.
Composed and entirely performed by Roger Taylor. 2016.
(Vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar and upright bass)
Additional keyboards Joshua J Macrae
Additional guitar Jason Falloon.
Produced by Roger Taylor and Joshua J Macrae.
Running time: 6 minutes 50 seconds
Journey’s End. Cinematic Short.
Available on iTunes
Composer: Roger Taylor
Director: Stuart Brennan
Producers: Sarina Taylor, Stuart Brennan
Cinematography: Brendon McGinty
Creative Concept: Sarina Taylor, Roger Taylor, Stuart Brennan
Co-produced and engineered by Joshua J Macrae
Running time: 6 minutes 58 seconds