How to play Queen It’s A Hard Life from the 1984 album The Works
This video is more play along with the record with on screen guitar tablature
Tuned slightly sharp
“It’s a Hard Life” is a song by the British rock band Queen, written by lead singer Freddie Mercury. It was featured on their 1984 album The Works, and it was the third single from that album. It reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and was their third consecutive Top 10 single from the album. It also reached number 2 in Ireland and number 20 in the Netherlands. It also came 19th on a poll, The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song broadcast on ITV on Tuesday 11 November 2014.
The opening lyric and melody of “It’s a Hard Life” is based on the line “Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!” (Laugh, clown, at your broken love!) from “Vesti la giubba”, an aria from Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci.
Musically, the song recreates the feel of “Play the Game” in order to update the story, utilising Mercury’s piano playing and the band’s characteristic technique of layered harmonies. It is recorded very much with the ethos of earlier Queen albums in that it features ‘no synthesizers’. By that time the band had been using synths on record since 1980’s The Game and the gesture of returning to the traditional Queen sound was comforting to some fans.
Tim Pope’s video which accompanies the song has been created in an operatic “style,” with the band and extras appearing in period “operatic-style” costume. The video also featured an unusual “skull and bones”-themed guitar that cost more than £1,000, played by May, which can be seen on the single cover.
The band found the costumes hot and uncomfortable, and the “eyes” on Mercury’s outfit were ridiculed by the others, saying he looked “like a giant prawn”. Both Brian May and Roger Taylor groaned out loud when shown this video during their commentary for the Greatest Video Hits 2 collection. Taylor said it was “the most stupid music video ever made.” May pointed out more positively that the video was an ironical take, as it portrayed Mercury as a wealthy man singing about how hard life and love are, and at that point Mercury in real life possessed great wealth but was still searching for love.
Taylor, by his side, remarked that he’d “actually loved the song, but hated the video.” Despite this, the video was posted on the band’s official YouTube channel.
One of the extras in the clip is German actress, Barbara Valentin.
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