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Queen: '39 Meaning

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'39 Lyrics

In the year of thirty-nine
Assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 8th 2011 report

    This song is the most painless introduction to Einstein's relativistic physics and the concept of time dilatation available.

    The song is about a space travel on speeds near the speed of light. A group of volunteers go on a spaceship which leaves Earth on year '39 - the century is not mentioned. "And many a lonely day/sailed across the milky seas" - this is a hint. "Seas" does not rhyme with "day", but when replaced with a word which does - "way" the enigma will open. Milky Way means the galaxy - the volunteers hunted for habitable planets in the galaxy.

    The ship returned one hundred years later - on Earth time. The time dilatation on the high speeds has taken its effect, and only one year has passed in the spaceship time. While they brought good news - they found habitable planets - the voyage was a personal tragedy for the protagonist. His all friends and relatives have died, and only his daughter, who was baby back then and now most likely a grandmother herself, is alive. He himself is nothing but a ghost from the past and all his life still ahead, but he feels like a stranger in a strange land.

    Brian May is an astrophysicist, and he wanted to do a folk song for a new era. According to him, the bridge of the song describes the voyage itself.

  2. anonymous
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    Feb 9th 2020 report

    Brian May (Queen guitarist) wrote this song about time travel and I believe that this is the correct meaning of the lyrics, but I think that us people of 2020 can look at it a different way.

    I think you could look at the song as a sort of tribute to Freddie Mercury. The “Letters in the sand” can be the the beautiful songs that he has left us, and the only thing we have left of him. “For the earth is old and grey” can be that the world is full of down graded music that is now so different to the amazing music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. When Brian sings “Cannot heal me like your hand” it is almost like even though we still have footage and recordings of Freddie nothing will be the same unless he’s here. And finally, when it says “For my life, Still ahead, Pity me” Brian could be implying that, when Freddie died, Brian, Roger and John still had so long they had to live without him.

    Anyway so yeah. I know my theory is impossible, and wrong, but these might be some things that might be going through Brian’s mind when performing.

  3. anonymous
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    May 21st 2017 report

    39 is a queen song about a person who goes to the war and comes back but his family is a hundred years old

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  4. anonymous
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    Jul 17th 2016 report

    In 1838, the French novelist George Sand (Aurore Dudevant) and her new lover, Frederick Chopin, and her two children sailed to the island of Mallorca, supposedly to enjoy the restorative climate, as Chopin was suffering from tuberculosis. They arrived at the wrong time, the accommodations were awful, and the returned in 1839 and went to George Sand's country estate, Nohant, which was far better for Chopin's health.

    I am aware of the time dilation interpretation and that Brian May was educated as an astrophysicist. But I should like to point out two lines that, in some ways, compel 39 to favor the Sand/Chopin interpretation. First "write your letters in the sand for the day I take your hand." George Sand's daughter, Solance, loved Chopin as the only father she really knew, as her own father had basically disowned her (and it is now known she was not his child, but the bastard of a hired hand on the farm at Nohant). Sand and Chopin broke up over issues with her children: her son was jealous of Chopin's position in the home, and Solange wanted to marry the sculptor Clesingerm whom Sand did not like. After the break up, Solange continued to write to Chopin but never received answers. At a concert in Paris, she approached and berated him for this. He told her that he hated fan mail, and his secretary destroyed all of it---except if it ever happened to bear the name Sand. So he told Solange to sign her letters with the Sand surname, as Solange Sand. I was shown a literal translation of that statement which read,"Write your letters as the Sand." The second interesting line "Your mothers eyes, from your eyes, cry to me." According to accounts from those who were there, Solange was at Chopin's bedside as he lay dying, and he told her that her mother's eyes called to him from her eyes.

    Coincidence? Echoes? Jus sayin . . .

  5. kooljohn176
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    Feb 16th 2015 report

    It is sad if the Heaven's gate 39 souls were taken by the thought of this song or a Moody Blues tune that they liked--''SUICIDE IS NOT, AND NEVER THE ANSWER''in this song that is one of the most beautiful and lamentful songs sung and written by BRIAN MAY playing with the band QUEEN and may FREDDIE MERCURY ALWAYS r.i.p. I guess you can say that this song was and is about both kinds of time travel here on earth or into the unknown future of some kind of space mission with the volunteers [spacetravelers] to leave earth in a Starship voyage to a new world in the one year '39 but only to find that everybody aged or died because of the time lapse of one year in space that was equal to let's say 100 years on earth. But realistically this song could also be about without leaving earth in going back in time when the Pilgrims or any kind of a voyage of the immigrants [slaves and non slaves] to the new world leaving their loved ones behind in the yearning for them to come back from the eons passed, like in the old Irish sad ballad song of ''Danny Boy'' for the loved one to come back home one day. Now also imagine as a child in your loved land of your ancestors that loved you very much, knowing that you have to leave ''The Land Our Grandchildren Knew'' in the beginning of WW2 Europe in the year '39 with sadness and courage ''For the many a lonely day sailed across the milky seas, never looked back, never feared, never cried'' when they got to the new world out of shock and fear that kept the memories frozen in time in the year '39 but one day heard the echoes of the loved ones that were left behind to go back in the protagonist year of ''39'', only to find out that time stood still there in his ''Time Travel Machine Of His Mind'' that made him feel light and young again like in 1939 before he left when he was a child, now searching for familiar faces in ''For so many years have gone though I,am older but a year, your mothers eyes from your eyes cry for me'',for only to take the hand of the child [or ghost] he left behind in his mind,united at last to stay there between the living and the dead ancestors, or go back to the future again of the new world that he left to unite the old again within himself.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  6. anonymous
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    Mar 6th 2013 report

    It's about World War II, which started in Europe in 1939. Which would explain the volunteers, ships, and heavy hearts.

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 2nd 2012 report

    Its about a guy going into space and ageing a year while the earth has aged hundreds of years.

  8. anonymous
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    Aug 19th 2011 report

    Not taking into account acceleration and deceleration, or stopping to discover the new worlds, to make the physics work, the rocket would have to be travelling at 299984999.6 m/s, or 671047332.1 mph. For comparison, the speed of light is 300000000 m/s, or 671080887 mph.

  9. anonymous
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    Apr 1st 2011 report

    Brian May eventually went on to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics. It's a song about travelling through time in outer space.

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