White Queen (As It Began)

Song Review by

Much of Queen II concerned itself with grandiose, fantasy-inflected tales of ogres and fairies but a few of its songs had an earthier, more emotional pull to them. The best example of this tendency on the album is "White Queen (As It Began)," a lilting ballad that has become a cult favorite amongst many Queen aficionados. The lyrics create a somber mood as they mourn a graceful woman who is no longer around: "Dear friend, goodbye/No tears in my eyes/So sad it ends/As it began." The music combines gentle verse built on fluttering runs of notes with a grittier staccato chorus that wrings its few notes for all the emotion they’re worth. Queen’s recording of "White Queen (As It Began)" is as lushly-textured as the rest of the Queen II album yet much more subtle in its overall approach: the verses slowly add and subtract layers of guitar textures and backing vocals to dramatic effect and power chords and thunderous drum rolls are sparingly doled out on the chorus. The real bombast is saved for the instrumental break, which trots an array of guitar riffs that are woven into one overpowering (yet lovely) cascade of sound. Freddie Mercury tops it off with a tender yet impassioned vocal that captures the heartache of the lyrics nicely. All these carefully deployed elements made "White Queen (As It Began)" a strong mood piece and as effective in its own way as heavier, more overtly complex items like "Seven Seas Of Rhye." This song never got an official single release but was later included on 1977 British release Queen’s First EP, a maxi-single that gave the song a belated top-20 charting in the U.K.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Queen II 1974 Hollywood 4:35
The Crown Jewels 1998 Hollywood 4:35
The Singles Collection [13 CD] 2008 Parlophone 4:34
Queen 40: Limited Edition Collector's Box Set, Vol. 1 2011 Hollywood / Hollywood Records (UK) 5:33
Queen on Air 2016 BBC / A Bbc Recording / Hollywood 4:54