"Going Back": The Carole King Connection to Freddie Mercury's Last Song, "Mother Love"
"Mother Love" was the last song that Brian May wrote with Freddie Mercury. The song was featured on Queen's last album with Mercury at the helm, Made In Heaven. Together they were looking for a vehicle to showcase Mercury's new "inward-looking style." Knowing that Mercury didn't have long to live, May wanted to write a song that talked about the universal longing we all feel for the safety and warmth of our infancy.
According to May, Mercury sang each bit of the song in one afternoon when he was still strong enough to sing. In the middle section of the song, he demanded to go higher and harder. With the help of a couple of vodkas, he went for it - and succeeded - as is apparent when listening to the final version of the song.
Unfortunately, by the time they got to the last verse, Mercury's energy was gone. Brian May laid down a vocal demo as a placeholder on the tape to be used as a guide for the next session. But the next session never came. A few weeks later, Mercury was gone. The band couldn't bring themselves to go near this material for a year or so. When they finally got around to finishing the tracks, May wanted the song to remain as raw and naked as possible to "preserve this final moment uncluttered."
Unsure how to end the song, May applied the guitar solo as a gentle transition after Freddie's last words, utilizing his demo verse as a kind of mouthpiece for Freddie's farewell from the Other Side. As May has said, his intention was to "use fragments of his voice to paint a picture of his journey home."
It was here that May picked up his old 45 copy of Mercury's 1972 recording of "Goin' Back." Which, incidentally, was the first record ever recorded by Mercury, under the pseudonym, Larry Lurex. The A-side of that record was "I Can Hear Music." When May laid down the clip of "Goin' Back" against pieces of Queen performances, going back in time, it all fell perfectly into place. Because "Goin' Back" is about those very same childhood yearnings, May knew that his choice for the ending was meant to be.
It was only fitting that Mercury's first recorded song, was used as the final word in his last song. A truly haunting verse, as the song "Mother Love" fades to an end.