Who Wants to Live Forever

Song Review by

Queen's most moving song is arguably not "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Somebody to Love," but their lesser-known 1986 U.K. hit "Who Wants to Live Forever." The song was written for the motion picture Highlander (appearing on the Queen album A Kind of Magic) and the song lyrically explores the pros and cons of the leading character's immortally -- while there's only one way for him to die (by getting his head cut off!), he has to watch his mortal loved ones die over the years. Penned entirely by guitarist Brian May, "Who Wants to Live Forever" featured very little guitar -- it was based largely on piano/keyboards and composed to sound almost as a symphonic piece. Categorized as a ballad upon first listen, the song builds gradually to a bombastic middle section, before returning to its more solemn original direction. Freddie Mercury steals the show, however, handing in one of his most emotional vocal performances on record, as the song took on new meaning after his death in 1991. The song was performed live on Queen's final tour in 1986, and was redone masterfully by Seal at the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley Stadium (backed by the remaining Queen members). Just the bare piano structure of the song is included as a bonus track of the A Kind of Magic CD, titled simply "Forever," which takes on a haunting beauty of its own.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
A Kind of Magic 1986 Island / Universal 5:16
Greatest Hits II 1991 Hollywood / Hollywood Records (UK) 4:55
Classic Queen 1992 Hollywood 5:15
No Image 1992 Hollywood 0:00
No Image 1992 Hollywood 0:00
Who Wants to Live Forever 1992 EMI Music Distribution 4:56
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 1995 Hollywood 4:57
Slow Motion, Vol. 5 1995
Various Artists
BMG 5:17
Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute 1997
Various Artists
Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 5:14
Diana Princess of Wales: Tribute 1998
Various Artists
V2 5:16
Radio City Love Songs, Vol. 6 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:55
Greatest Hits: I II & III: The Platinum Collection 2001 Hollywood 4:53
Power Ballads [EMI] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Greatest Karaoke Hits 2004 EMI / Toshiba EMI
Greatest Hits/Greatest Karaoke Hits 2007 EMI Music Distribution
Kiss FM: La Mejor Música [2 CD/DVD] 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:56
Die Hit Giganten: Film Hits 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 5:17
The Singles Collection, Vol. 3 2010 EMI / Parlophone 4:04
Queen Forever 2014 Hollywood 5:16
Bohemian Rhapsody [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2018 Hollywood / Hollywood Records 5:14
Grand Collection WSM / Polystar 4:33