Was “Radio Ga Ga”‘s Lyrics rewritten by their American Record Label?

Check this out, from Queen: The Complete Illustrated Lyrics, a book I bought as an afterthought but really love.

This is a “rare and intriguing telex” (precursor to fax), sent from Jim Mazza of Capitol Records to Queen, with suggested “new lyrical changes” to “Radio Ga Ga”‘s lyrics. Here’s part of the top of the note:

These are by no means professional lyrics,” the note reads, “only ideas, and do in fact change the sentiment of the song to one of a supporting endorsement [sic] of radio’s future, rather and a predictor of its demise.

PLS understand that the American radio community is extremely concerned over the impact of video music is having on their listenership, thus our concern and recommended lyrical changes.

Then what follows looks to be, almost to the last word save a few differences, the actual lyrics to “Radio Ga Ga.”

One major difference “Like all good things on you we depend” is “Without you how could we pretend”; which, as I think of it, seems might actually have sounded less clunky!

Anyway, I got all Da Vinci Code about this over at the Queenzone forum for “serious discussion.” Here’s what I wrote.

Some questions I have after looking at this, and I’d be curious to hear what people think, especially those who have the book.

1. Wow. Did Queen really change or revise the lyrics to “Radio Ga Ga” to please their American radio company? It looks like they did.
2. Did they do this to better their chances for U.S. airplay? (Even though it didn’t work as well as they hoped.)
3. Might this be a rare moment of candor on Queen Productions’ part, that they were open to changing lyrics of their new single?
4. I wonder what the “old” lyrics read like? Besides the “ca ca” Roger’s kid origin story of the song, I didn’t know the first lyrics to “Ga Ga” were anti-radio.

The latest post is the Queen were subversive in rubber-stamping the lyrics, which is kind over subversive or clever. At any rate, it’s a curious bit of sharing from the Queen camp, perhaps even–gasp!–modest on their part.

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One response to “Was “Radio Ga Ga”‘s Lyrics rewritten by their American Record Label?

  1. Pingback: lyrics: “you’re sure good for me” « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci