How Can I Go On

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‘How Can I Go On (Single Version)’/‘Overture Piccante’ (1989)

As far as Freddie was concerned, Monsterrat Caballé was unrivalled. To him, there was no greater honour than to duet with the woman he considered the greatest singer on the planet. When she returned the compliment, it made Freddie as proud as he ever was.

“She told me on the phone that she loves the way our voices sound together… and I was smiling from my ass to my elbow,” he recalled. “I sat at home like I’d just swallowed the canary, thinking, ‘Ooh! There’s a lot of people who’d like to be in my shoes right now.’”

The respect was mutual: “His technique was astonishing,” Caballé said. “No problem of tempo, he sung with an incisive sense of rhythm, his vocal placement was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another. He also had a great musicality.”

Continuing her praise, Caballé added, “His phrasing was subtle, delicate and sweet or energetic and slamming. He was able to find the right colouring or expressive nuance for each word.”

‘How Can I Go On’ is another of Freddie’s confessional songs, picking up from his terrific reworking of ‘The Great Pretender’. Here, as he sings, “When people frighten me, I try to hide myself so far from the crowd,” he is opening himself up. When he asks, “Who can make me strong in every way? Where can I be safe, where can I belong?” it’s hard not to think that, with his illness beginning to take hold, Freddie was pouring his heart out. It makes for an affecting ballad: melancholy tugging at the heartstrings as Freddie’s impassioned voice climbs; taking the lead, his sentiments are echoed by the supportive soprano.

Paul McGuinness