Queen: '39 Meaning
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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...
anonymous Jun 8th, 2011 6:23am 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.
anonymous Feb 9th, 2020 2:01pm 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.
anonymous Jul 17th, 2016 7:51pm 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 . . .
anonymous Apr 2nd, 2012 4:44pm report
Its about a guy going into space and ageing a year while the earth has aged hundreds of years.
anonymous Aug 19th, 2011 8:24am 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.
anonymous Apr 1st, 2011 4:20am 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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