I often tell my students to throw out their thesauruses. The fancy sounding words they substitute for regular ones often have wide-ranging connotations, sometimes derived from something as simple as the word’s component phonemes.
It might also be useful to advise them to throw out their dictionaries, periodic tables, and atlases. Geez. Especially those atlases.
In a radio special about their 1977 album News of the World, May said he had penned the lyrics thinking of them as ironic and tongue-in-cheek, but their sense was completely changed when Freddie Mercury sang them.
The first version of “Keep Yourself Alive” was recorded in summer 1971 at De Lane Lea Studios. It was produced by Louie Austin and includes the intro played on Brian May’s Hairfred acoustic guitar. All of the song elements were already present, including call-and-response vocals by Freddie Mercury (verses) and during the break, where Roger Taylor sang a line and Mercury answered it. This demo version remains Brian May’s favourite take of the song.