Hammer to Fall is really about life and death, and being aware of death as being part of life. I was inspired, I think, by “Waiting for Godot” …although there are a lot of other things mixed up with it in there … The Hammer coming down is only a symbol of the Grim Reaper doing his job!!
… the last verse of “Hammer to Fall”? Well, it’s always been a personal kind of part – the spectre of the mushroom cloud was absolutely a real part of my childhood … we were constantly told it was going to happen, and we ought to hide somewhere if the four-minute warning was given (how was it going to be given ???!!) And we should not LOOK at the blast !!! As if there would be a choice … In the musical, the song (at my instigation, inspired by what Ben did with the script at the 11th hour) became re-oriented as a struggle between two lovers. Constraints of sense and time made this last verse difficult to include. So I was happy to leave it out.
The last verse is really, as I look at it now, one of my protests against violent solutions, so it should not be too out of place in a Christian perspective, though I am probably not a very good Christian!! And an awful lot of people in the world STILL seem to be doing violence in the name of Christianity, which appalls me. How our Western leaders justify this in their minds baffles me completely. I am praying we soon get a change.
And Keep Yourself Alive ? [What kept Queen going when it failed to chart, and in the early days?]
Well, I don’t think we thought success would be easy. When the record struggled to be heard, we just thought … it’ll take a bit more work until people understand what we have to offer. We were not offering normal “Pop” music of the time, so it was not going to be easy to turn the attention of Radio around. We believed!!! Also the whole hit record thing was not perceived by us as the only important thing , or indeed a thing of much importance at all. Our heroes were Led Zeppelin, after all, who NEVER had a hit single!! I think we wondered if having a hit would disqualify us from being taken seriously!
By some stroke of good fortune, we were able to have hits later, but still develop ourselves as an Album-Oriented touring band ….. we carved out our own destiny, by great persistence and much work, and some good tunes, I think! But I feel we were very fortunate too.