You Take My Breath Away

Song Review by

Although he was best known on the pop charts for penning grandiose, tongue-in-cheek pop like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Bicycle Race," Freddie Mercury also had a knack for penning sensitive ballads that were the polar opposite of such hits. Case in point: "You Take My Breath Away," a subtle but emotionally intense song from A Day At The Races. The lyrics overflow with the kind of romanticism one would expect from a love sonnet as the portray someone consumed in total lovestruck obsession: "I could give up all my life for just one kiss/I would surely die/If you dismiss me from your love/You take my breath away." The music sustains the deeply romantic feel of the lyrics, combining moody verses full of florid melodic twists with a powerhouse chorus that slowly ascends to operatic heights. Queen’s recording of "You Take My Breath Away" downplays their usual "everything but the kitchen sink" style in favor of a spare, piano-driven arrangement that is given extra texture by lush but sparingly deployed vocal harmonies and an instrumental break where Brian May overdubs several guitar lines to create the illusion of an electrified string section. These carefully applied touches make "You Take My Breath Away" a ballad that is stylish and subtle all at once. Freddie Mercury applies the final touch with a delicate, airy lead vocal that bypasses bombast in favor of down-to-earth emotion. The song was never released as a single but has become a cult favorite with Queen fans and remains one of the best examples of the other side of Mercury’s songwriting.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
A Day at the Races 1976 Hollywood 5:06