Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody Meaning
Song Released: 1975
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Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics
Is this just fantasy-
Caught in a landslide-
No escape from reality-
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see-
I’m just a poor boy,i need no sympathy-
Because I’m easy come,easy go,
A little high,little...
anonymous Jan 4th, 2007 1:14am report
Wow. I had no idea there were so many interpretations of this song. For me it's always been clear: the song is about an execution. Please bear with me as I construct a detailed argument for this interpretation.
Here's the set-up (all of this is proven later): The narrator has committed murder. He might have done this out of malice, or self-defense, or anything in between; we don't know. The fact is that he killed someone, was caught and sentenced, and is now on Death Row. The man is not an important person, so to speak. He is not famous, nor rich, nor anything of the kind. He has no high-priced lawyers and no "connections" to help him in his plight. The narrator implies that, if he had higher social status, if he had money or fame or whatever, then he would stand a good chance of escaping death. But alas, he is merely a "poor boy" (aka ordinary person), and has no such power. His family and friends are attending the execution (or have otherwise heard about it), and are very distressed. Conversely, the family and friends of the dead man want revenge and they can't wait to see the narrator executed. The song takes place just prior to the execution, and involves the narrator talking to (or perhaps just thinking about) his mother, just before he dies.
If you're still reading, you have my thanks.
Here's the line-by-line analysis:
*We start with the narrator's thoughts:
"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"
*The narrator is overwhelmed by the idea that he's going to die. He almost wonders whether this is all a nightmare or something.
"Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality"
Again, he feels overwhelmed, but he can't really deny that he's about to be killed.
"Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,"
Looking up to heaven, wondering about life etc.
"I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go, Little high, little low"
Here he is quoting the common perspective: he's just a poor man ("boy"), and he doesn't deserve sympathy. Much of the song is about how no one seems to care for the narrator, even though he seems mournful and regretful for his actions.
"Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me"
Now that he's going to die, nothing more matters. He has no future, no hopes or dreams or goals. He's going to die within the hour, and there's nothing he can do about it. He feels very hopeless, and from his perspective nothing really matters.
"Mama, just killed a man, Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead"
This part is obvious. He committed murder. I don't he's confessing to his mother here, as surely she would already know by the time of the execution. I think that he's really just sadly reflecting on what he's done, and he mentions this to his mother (or perhaps he's just thinking about her)
"Mama, life had just begun
But now I've gone and thrown it all away"
He was a young man, in his 20s perhaps. He had the chance to live a meaningful life, but instead he killed a man, thus causing his own death via execution. The narrator laments, noting that he could have saved his own life by choosing not to murder. But now the deed is done, and the narrator will face justice.
"Mama, ooh, Didn't mean to make you cry
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow
carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters"
Again he's sorry for his actions, and regrets that his mother now weeps for him, as he will soon be killed. The execution will take place within the hour, so if he's not back again this time tomorrow, it will mean that the execution happened on schedule, that he failed to escape it via pardon or other means. The narrator tells his mother that, even if he dies, she should carry on living, almost as if his death didn't matter to her.
"Too late, my time has come"
The execution is imminent.
"Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all the time"
These are symptoms of his intense fear.
"Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go"
He says a final farewell to his family and friends.
"Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth"
The truth is that he killed a man, and now he faces strict justice. He will die.
"Mama, ooh, I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all"
This much is obvious. He doesn't want to be killed, and indeed he wonders if it would have been better never to have been born in the first place.
A new voice starts singing; this voice represents his friends and family who are (or have been previously) protesting his execution.
"I see a little silhouetto of a man"
The narrator seems so poor and pitiful, "a shadow of what he once was", so to speak
"Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango"
Honestly, I don't know what this means
"Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright'ning me"
Both he and them are afraid that he'll be killed. The "lighting" part might indicate that he's to be killed with the electric chair, or it might just be symbolic.
"(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo, Galileo figaro"
Galileo was unfairly persecuted by the authorities of his time. Granted, Galileo didn't commit murder, but the narrator's advocates still draw a parallel, insisting that he doesn't deserve the punishment he's receiving.
"Magnifico. I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me"
The narrator repeats the common belief.
"He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity"
His friends and family argue that, because he's a poor boy, he deserves sympathy and compassion, not death.
"Easy come, easy go, will you let me go"
Here the narrator pleads for his life. He basically says "You don't seem to care about me; I'm 'easy come, easy go'. You don't really care if I live or die. So, if you don't really care whether I live or die, can't you just let me live? Can't you grant me a pardon or something?"
Then the opposite group, the friends and family of the dead man (and/or the execution authorities) respond to these pleas.
"Bismillah! No, we will not let you go"
The other group wants the narrator to be executed.
"(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let me go.) Will not let you go
(Let me go.) Will not let you go. (Let me go.) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no."
The two groups have a spirited argument.
"(Oh mama mia, mama mia.) Mama mia, let me go"
Here the chorus of friends and family says "let me go", but I really think they mean "let him go. Don't kill the narrator"
"Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me"
Beelzebub means Satan. The narrator feels (or speculates) that Satan is out to torment him by leading him to such a sad fate. After all, it was probably a devil that tempted him to commit murder in the first place. Likewise, his family feels Satan is tormenting them as well, by killing the narrator to make them feel sad. Perhaps even the dead man's family joins in on this chorus; they feel that it was Satan who told the narrator to commit murder in the first place, and now they insist that execution is the only holy response to such a sin.
Throughout this, the narrator has been lethargic and morose. But right before the end, he has a sudden burst of passion.
"So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here!"
I'm not sure if he's talking to anyone specific here, or if he's just ranting with passion, screaming at everyone and everything involved.
As I imagine it, the narrator throws off his guards and fights to escape from his shackles. In the ensuing musical piece, he struggles with the executioners, knocking the room into disarray. The two families watch closely, but everyone knows it's a useless struggle; there's simply no way for the narrator to escape. And the end of the musical piece, he is beaten down and finally subdued. Once again he become morose and dispirited, and the executioners drag him to his place of death (electric chair, perhaps). In his last few moments before death, the narrator resumes his previous state of mind.
"Nothing really matters, Anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me"
Again, because he's about to die, nothing really matters to him. He has no purpose, no hope, nothing.
"Any way the wind blows..."
This is an allusion to the begining of the song, where this image was used along with "nothing really matters"
So...yeah. I think that's a pretty thorough interpretation. Bohemian Rhapsody is about a remorseful murderer as he's about to be executed.
Questions? Comments? Did anybody even read all that?
anonymous Dec 27th, 2005 12:11pm report
The song is about of course about murder, and the consequences of your actions. I think Freddie used the five stages of grief for the verses 1. Denial/ Isolation "goodbye everybody-I've got to go" 2. Depression "sometimes wish I'd never been born at all" 3. Bargaining "I'm just a poor boy.. will you let me go?" 4. Anger "so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye.. just gotta get right out of here. and 5. Acceptance "any way the wind blows"
anonymous Jul 19th, 2005 7:11am report
Sorry, but you're all wrong!
Well Freddie Mercury said in an interview that “it's just a bunch of rhyming nonsense” but I think it is about a poor boy killing a man and confessing it to his mother.
The 4 different styles of the song represent what he is going through after the murder. The 1st deals with him being in shock of the crime he just committed, (Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?). The second is when he confesses to his mother, (Mamma, just killed a man) but his mum doesn’t want anything to do with him so he ends up killing himself. The third part is when heaven and hell are fighting over him trying to decide where he will be sent. In the song it states “Bismillah no! We will not let you go”, Bismillah means in the name of Allah which means God so It means in the name of God, no! We will not let you go. He ends up losing and is going to hell (Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me). The fourth part of the song has a heavy metal sound to which I think he is telling them what he thinks of life, hell and everything, (so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye, love me and leave me to die). He asks for a second chance to go to heaven but god rejects him again. So now he loses hope and faith and it goes back to the slow part of the song at the start. Nothing really matters, anyway the wind blows.
Some of the unusual names in the songs actually have meaning believe it or not! “Scaramouch” according to the dictionary it means “a stock character who appears as a boastful coward”. “Fandango” is a Spanish dance done in triple time. “Beelzebub” is one of the many names given to the devil.
the song has nothing to do with him having AIDS the song was written 11 years before he even got AIDS!!
This is only my opinion of the song, no one really knows the real meaning of it only Freddie Mercury will know.
Any way the wind blows!!
anonymous Jan 19th, 1:05pm report
For the #1 interpretation, he says that the whole "love me and leave me to die" might just be out of passion. I think that there was an acclomplice (who was his girlfriend) that either escaped out of fear or intentionally ditched the narrator.
Notice how the narrator has stayed quiet about his acclompice until this point in the song. Maybe he was doing this so they wouldn't find out there was a second shooter and she wouldn't have to suffer the same fate, for even though she might've ditched him, he still loves her.
Maybe right before he was going to be executed, the narrator realized how blind he was in still loving her, inducing the "passionate freak-out" where we hear him admit to authorities that he had help in the murder. But, alas, the guards are too busy trying to restrain him to figure it out.
anonymous Jan 11th, 1:50am report
Frankly, I thought it was a spot on interpretation that lined up exactly with my own [almost creepy], but nevertheless, great work.
anonymous Dec 17th, 12:42pm report
There are a couple of gaps in the top-rated interpretation that I would like to fill in. Forgive me that I haven't checked if anyone else has done this yet.
"Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?"
There are two results for this in the first half-page of a google search for the name that seem relevant. One in a 1952 film with the description "After Andre Moreau finds he is the secret bastard son of a recently deceased noble, he realizes that it his own sister that he's romantically drawn to."
The second is a stock character in renaissance plays named Scaramuccia (literally "skirmish"), who was "beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice." He also dressed in black.
The line could be the executioners or the family of the murdered man shouting out "BASTARD! PATHETIC CLOWN! DANCE ON THE END OF YOUR ROPE!"
I asked my phone to translate "Bismillah." It said the word was Arabic. Plugging that into Google Translate, I got the word "Basmala," which wikipedia tells me: "Basmala (Arabic: بسملة basmala) is an Arabic noun used as a collective name for the whole of the recurring Islamic phrase b-ismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi. It is sometimes translated as "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful""
They are executing this man in the name of God, for his crimes, and their minds shall not be swayed by the pleas of the poor.
anonymous Dec 11th, 12:26am report
Yeah, he killed a man..Himself, and then went out of the closet, and left Mamma Mia (Mary)..
anonymous Nov 20th, 11:37pm report
I always though it was his way of expressing how he felt when he found out he has aids.. The murder is his murder (the aids) it's a story of how he felt when he found out he had it like he was murdered
anonymous Sep 21st, 9:46pm report
you are all very simple freddy loved opera and its an opera about a murderer on trial sentenced to die for his crimes he tries to plea politely for his life and when this fails he dams his persecutors. The mother part is about Alfrid Hitchcocks psycho when he talks to his mother even though he doesnt use a gun and btw u are simple and should not be allowed on the internet by your dead mothers.....
anonymous Aug 18th, 2013 8:29pm report
I agree, this is just nonsense crap. Well not saying the song is crap or anything lol, it's just for fun. Although, it's good for chorus, IMO. I love Queen! And this song too lol. ^^
anonymous Aug 17th, 2013 8:37pm report
"Scaramouche" is a character from a book by the same title by Raphael Sabatini. He is kind of like the more familiar" Zoro" who, while a person of noble background, he choses to disguise himself to right perceived " wrongs", usually among the"common" people. Scaramouche enjoys irony. He plays at being a"buffoon", but is really a master swordsman. He remakes himself as his situation dictates, while hiding in plain sight. Perhaps they want Scaramouche to "dance the fandango" over the body of the man about to be executed, because either "justice" was done, or for the irony of something everyone now knows.
anonymous Jun 13th, 2013 6:40am report
I'm not sure, but i think I've heard a scaramouche is an Italian figure who makes other people happy, while being sad in his heart.
K, I think it's a good interpretation. However, I'm not sure if I agree. I think he's going to commit suicide. 'Cause he said: anyway the wind blows doesn't really matter to me. In your interpretation, it's obvious he don't wanna die (k, that's what he said)and he want to escape, etc. But when nothing matters, why in heavens sake does he want to escape? I think, he wants to punish himself for his actions. In the end of the song, you hear a sound, (the last sound), I think that sound used to be a gun. He shot himself.
anonymous Jun 7th, 2013 6:09am report
The song is about a man telling the world he is gay. he says mother I killed a man because he no longer sees himself as a man. this is shown again when he says he sees a silhouette of a man. while some may consider these comparisons to be wrong, consider the global opinion on gays when this song was written.
anonymous May 5th, 2013 5:08pm report
This song is obviously about death and murder. However, there is more than one interpretation. Good Art in any form whether it is a painting, poetry or music should have many interpretations. All art forms should evoke a variety of emotions. Freddie Mercury was an amazing artist and his passion was conveyed through his music.
IMO this song may not necessarily be about Freddie having contracted and unwittingly spread the HIV virus to others himself, but it could be about the overall process of how it initially unfolded during his time in the gay community. The song illustrates this tragedy to those who understand it.
"Momma just killed a man put my gun against his head pulled My trigger now he's dead" could be a metaphor for sex that causes death. It does not have to be literal. Just because the public thinks Freddie wasn't suffering from aids at the time the record was released does not mean he wasn't socially aware. Quite possibly Freddie would have been sympathetic toward those suffering from this disease and willing to dedicate a song to their plight.
The Bohemian Tragedy: HIV.
anonymous Apr 20th, 2013 4:36am report
I just listened to this a few moments ago for the very first time and I simply do not understand why people have been freaking out over it for decades. It's aimless and the words put together describe a possible murder but that's just about it. I understand the structure and elements of the song are pretty different--complex, even--but that's technically all. Nothing symbolic or life-changing about it.
anonymous Apr 17th, 2013 4:50am report
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anonymous Apr 1st, 2013 4:48pm report
You've got it all wrong. Yes, he killed a man, but he's already dead. (Hence the "Is this the real life, is this just fantasy".) "No escape from reality" He's facing the fact that he's dead. "Look up to the skies and see, I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy" He needs no sympathy because he's dead, and you have to look up to see him in heaven.
In the second verse he's confessing to his mom in heaven (she's already dead.) about him murdering the man.
In the third verse he's reflecting on his execution.
The fourth verse is him trying to be retrived by satin (beezlebub) to go to hell, but the angels give him sympathy (even though he doesn't ask for it) and try to keep him there.
Fifth verse is him talking to his living family (though they can't hear him) before going to hell.
Sixth verse he's in hell and saying he doesn't care, because he's pretty much paying for his actions.
anonymous Mar 28th, 2013 3:24pm report
Im no pro, but I imagine you just crafted a very good point point. You undoubtedly comprehend what youre speaking about, and I can actually get behind that. Thanks for staying so upfront and so honest.
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