A huge part of David Bowie’s legacy is empathy.
Through both his music and his very existence, Bowie had the power to make you feel like you weren’t in this world alone.
One song that drives home the empathy element of Bowie’s multifaceted legacy is his collaboration with Queen in “Under Pressure.” But it’s a different, more morose kind of empathy.
Beneath Freddie Mercury’s airy falsetto and soaring vocals, under the charming and now-infamous bass line, the scatting, and the gentle piano, “Under Pressure” is one heartbreaker of a song.
“It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about,” Bowie growls in the first bridge, tearing the skin off the melody and digging into its true, darker meaning.
Of course, Bowie and Mercury aren’t the first musicians to sing a song about realizing that the world isn’t completely bright or how they imagined.
In “Under Pressure,” they will it to be something better, something grander, something that transcends what it is.
“Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word, and love dares you to care,” Bowie sings, his vocals climbing toward some aimless height at the end of the song.
That’s the magic of the song, of Bowie, and of Queen.