24 August 2015

In The Year Of '39

One of my favorite Queen songs is '39.  In it, a group of space explorers go on what they believe to be a  year-long voyage.  However, when they return, a hundred years have passed due to the time dialation effect in Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  So, the loved ones they left when they embarked on their journey are dead or aged beyond recognition.

Brian May, who composed and sang the lead vocals for the song, had studied astrophysics before embarking on his music career.  He has always insisted that '39 is "a science fiction folk song" (hmm...) and denied any political, social or historical references.  But it's difficult to hear the song without thinking of the year 1939, after which the world would not be the same because nobody who survived would be innocent (if they ever were) again.

They would never again be like these boys, who were discussing what would be the last Tour de France for another seven years:

Photo by Robert Capa


  1. I also immediately thought of the year 1939 and of course the beginning of WWII. My dad graduated in 1942 so you know where he went; in his case, he went to Europe in the infantry and did get to see Paris, albeit in a hurry; he was returning to the front from convalescence in England so had more or less 12 hours of a layover in Paris waiting for a train to carry him to the Huertgen Forest near Aachen. That battle was not a good experience as he wound up back in hospital in England for most of the rest of the war until the German surrender in May. But at least he got to see Paris and enjoyed it.

  2. Anon--That's quite a story. I am grateful that the circumstances under which I've seen Paris are better than the ones he had.