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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

Behind the Title - A Winter's Tale

"A Winter's Tale" by Queen

This abstract landscape of a fresh blanket of Michigan snow has minimal details beyond the smooth curves of white.

Picture yourself in a forest, still, silent, and white, surrounded by the purest snow you've ever seen. It lies thick and smooth on every surface as if the clouds had melted. It's fresh, powdery, and fluffy like a pillow inviting you to slumber. There you stand in the middle of it, no footprints in any direction, like a fixed figurine in a snowglobe that's just settled. Do you dare take a step? Could you bring yourself to put a wrinkle in this untouched blanket of snow?

"So quiet and peaceful

(Dreaming) Tranquil and blissful

(Dreaming) There's a kind of magic in the air

(Dreaming) What a truly magnificent view

(Dreaming) A breathtaking scene"

This was my dilemma. A fragile masterpiece before me where any movement would leave a permanent blemish behind. Without my camera weighing me down, I would've floated across this dreamscape like Peter Pan in an arctic Neverland. I had to be delicate, precise, and deliberate with each step. Cautiously wading through the snow I found patience had apparently fallen with it. Every other step triggered a slow revolution to reevaluate the new angles, I was like a lighthouse looking for a home.

"It's all so beautiful

Like a landscape painting in the sky"

The storm had been dense enough to flatten most of the coast but a few areas still had slight variations in elevation. An overcast sky softened the light to the point shadows were all but extinguished resulting in subtle gradients on each curve. Before I ever found my composition, "A Winter's Tale" was painted in my mind. Every step left me scanning the beach of melted marshmallows for the right alignment. Insulated by the creative juices flowing through me, the cold bite of that winter morning was kept at bay long enough to find the shot.

How do you transcribe this experience into sound? Minimal photos are always tricky but this one had to account for the chill in the air as well. The perfect song had to capture the purity of the snow, the calming of the cold, and the smoothness of the landscape all with a sprinkle of wonder. It needed to be effortless but brilliant, simple yet deep, it had to soothe you while simultaneously flooding you with joy. Enter Freddie Mercury.

Queen sets the tone with a soothing soundtrack that hangs softly in the ears, subtly injecting an elegance into the scene as Freddie is given the spotlight for this song. His voice is as pure as the fresh Michigan snow but he's clearly taken a little off to echo the tranquil melody behind him. The song overall feels a little hollow and cold, it's almost as if the entire band took a step back from the microphones to record it. The song is an ode to winter. The lyrics speak of the best the season has to offer and Freddie jazzes them up with his signature fluctuations. "A Winter's Tale" mesmerizes like the freshly fallen snow while evoking the cool serenity that melted over me and thus earned the title for this Michigan snowscape.


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