The fairy folk have gathered
Round the new moon’s shine
To see the feller crack a nut
At night’s noon time
To swing his axe he swears
As he climbs he dares
To deliver the master stroke
If you ask me on any given day what my favorite Queen album is, I’d quickly respond with Jazz, as that was my first Queen album ever and I think it’s madcap, elaborate, over-the-top wonderfulness in pure Queen fashion. But maybe my favorite collection of Queen songs of all time is Side 2 of Queen II from 1974. Everything from “Ogre Battle” to “Seven Seas of Rhye” is just perfection to my ears.
And that’s where you’ll find today’s Halloween playlist selection, the Freddie Mercury-penned The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke. This tune is nothing but the pure distillation of what many consider to be that “classic” Queen look and feel. Or rather, listen and feel. Whatever the case may be.
The song is brief, not even three minutes long, and it’s a heavily layered, lushly produced, and lyrically rich ode to English artist Richard Dadd’s painting of the same name, as seen here:
Dadd received the commission to paint “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke” while incarcerated in a lunatic asylum for murdering his father, which is just about as Halloween as you can get. But he also embedded the piece with an incredible amount of detail and skill, populating it with fantasy creatures and characters, all gathered round to watch the titular persona smash nuts with an axe.
Plow man wagoner will’ and types
Politician with senatorial pipe
He’s a dilly dally oh
Pedagogue squinting wears a frown
And a satyr peers under lady’s gown
He’s a dirty fellow
What a dirty laddie-oh
As a song, Queen’s The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke is wonderfully fantastical and silly fun, little more than a high-spirited description of a fantasy painting that emerged from the mind of a ridiculously talented lunatic. It certainly makes for a welcome frothy tonic in between some of our more disturbing Halloween tunes. So grab your axe and crack nuts with the rest of us dirty laddie-o’s!
And if your knowledge of Queen is limited to the greatest hits, please do check out both Queen II and Jazz whenever you can. You’ll be entirely too glad you did.
Fairy dandy tickling the fancy
Of his lady friend
The nymph in yellow
What a queer fellow
The ostler stares with hands on his knees
Come on mister feller
Crack it open of you please