Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody Meaning
Song Released: 1975
Covered By: Panic! At The Disco (2016), Pentatonix (2017)
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 Apr 22nd, 12:02 report
I always thought of Bohemian Rhapsody as an interesting mish~mash of lyrics and musical effects until my nephew died from AIDS~~when the lyrics became crystal clear to me.
He is preparing his mom for what's to come. First, he tells her that he's knowing passed a death sentence on to another man my "pulling his trigger". Then he tells her that he must also go, but she shouldn't cry. She must go forward with her life when he is no longer there. From that point the lyrics deal with the way he'd always viewed himself and how he'd been treated by others who didn't think much of him~as a poor boy who no one loved. The lyrics then become more ethereal when they move to Beelzebub and Hell. I think he was feeling that Hell is where it all ends for the unfortunate men who contacted AIDS.
Even though Freddy didn't have the disease when he wrote B. R., AIDS was already an "unknown" known frightening killer illness taking out a multitude of unassuming men...just my thoughts.
anonymous Mar 22nd, 3:56am report
I really liked this song and I think your perception of it is your truth. I think only Freddie knows what it meant to him. My truth is it was a struggle with changes is a persons life, maybe Freddie's maybe not. I just listen and enjoy while regretting the loss of a human life.
anonymous Feb 23rd, 2:31am report
In 2019 the meaning of the song should be more obvious than it has been in the past. The song is about the transition of life from common man to rock star. It is about leaving a simple life to celebrity life, and maybe even selling out to get there. It is about sacrificing your past (in this case Freddie Mercury's past,) for fame and fortune. My interpretation follows:
"Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?"
Freddie can't believe he's famous.
"Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality."
His talents are both a gift and a curse.
"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,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me."
Mercury is humbled and conforms to the music industry.
"Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead."
This is metaphorically speaking -the man that Mercury killed is himself. He killed the person his family and friends all knew, and traded it for fame and fortune.
"Mama, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away."
He's still young and realizes he can never go back to the simple life he had before.
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."
Basically, he won't be visiting for Sunday night dinner whenever he wants to.
"Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body's aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth."
The truth is, he is now the front man for an elite rock band and is obligated to write music, record music, to perform concerts and to tour the world. His schedule is structured entirely by his producers. They have 100% control of his calendar, and he has virtually no control.
"Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don't wanna die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all."
He misses his old life and knows he can't just leave his obligations or he likely will face consequences of some type -possibly even death.
"I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"
Scaramouche means cowardly buffoon. Fandango is a spanish dance. So he realizes he is here for everyone's entertainment. He doesn't feel respected by those who financed him. He feels small.
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
Thunderbolt and lightning could represent the devil. The lightning bolt does in fact represent Satan. This symbolizes the debt that is owed. Galileo might signify the alignment of the stars or what is, or what is to become. It is reality.
"I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity."
Presents the idea of asking to quit from the industry look absurd.
"Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (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!)
Never let you go (Never, never, never, never let me go)
Oh oh oh oh
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me."
Bismillah means in Islam "In the name of God." Beelzebub is the devil or a demon.
"So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?"
Stone me with pot and spit in my eye hoping for ignorance.
"So you think you can love me and leave me to die?"
Mercury realizes he's not loved by the industry.
"Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here."
He wants out of the music industry whether there's a way out or not.
(Ooooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah)
"Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me."
He realizes there's no way out so he decides to give up all hope, and conforms.
"Any way the wind blows."
He's completely at their mercy and is now content with anything.
anonymous Feb 3rd, 2:55pm report
I think the song can be interpreted in 3 ways:
1. Outing as guy
2. Get AIDS and give it to others.
3. Any killer scenario
I think that time the song was created the homosexual outing was the fight in his head.
After his illness and death the song becomes much more genius because it can also be interpreted as the fight against AIDS which is based on the first fight of the outing.
SnakeSpirit Jan 24th, 1:58pm report
Just one line that always bugged me:
"Mama, just killed a man, Put _a_ gun against his head
Pulled _my_ trigger, now he's dead"
"A" gun. Not my gun. Any random gun?
Or a proscribed gun?
"My" trigger. His trigger. His decision.
Confirming ownership of the 'trigger' but not the gun.
The gun represents an external force (society?).
The trigger is his choice to 'kill' "a man." (Himself?)
anonymous Jan 9th, 1:12pm report
You have to have EBOLA to know de way
anonymous Jan 5th, 1:04pm report
It is a compilation of different songs that Freddie and other band members had been working on. They needed to record something and Freddie pulled all this together. He had it all laid out including the dubbing.
Therefore the meaning is multi-layed. To me, it is clear that "I killed a man" is Freddie deciding to come out to his family and friends as a gay man. The death of the man is the heterosexual man whom he had pretended to be all his life but could no longer be.
He knows this is breaking his mom's heart and she will not understand and may even be that now he is dead to her. Sadly many people disown their children who they come out.
As someone who has come out to his very religious family and got disowned, I can understand "But now I've gone and thrown it all away." After all, this is what many families think their gay child is doing. My brother used these exact words to me.
But especially telling is
"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."
And then his statement that he knows he is losing them by telling them this truth,
"Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go, Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth."
anonymous Dec 26th, 12:53pm report
I think Bohemian Rhapsody is about Freddie's life. In the song it could go from really dark to really confident. His life had highs and lows, and so does the song. This might not be true, but this is what I think.
anonymous Dec 19th, 12:49pm report
I think this story/song is about him killing a man (obviously) because in this song, it says:"Mamma, just killed a man. Pulled the trigger now he's dead. So then, when he says "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", it's when he go's 2 jail and he's saying bye 2 his mom. THEN, get ready for then sad part, when he says "Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooh, I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all", he has to go face either the electric chair, or being hung. The rest is....... pretty crazy but i think it's before he dies, during he dies and after he's dead, so there. That's the whole song, and if you don't know this song, I'm sorry for spoiler alerts!
anonymous Nov 28th, 11:56pm report
"He's just a poor boy from a poor family" is a another ploy plea to let him off for his crime, because he was from a broken home and had a hard upbringing. This is used in many real cases.
Look a Ross Ulbricht's propaganda being spewed out now for a great example.
HIV was not involved due to the time line being out of order. The reason is clearly stated that he killed a man, based on two different methods of stating it in the lyrics.
anonymous Nov 26th, 11:53pm report
Clearly, this is a post modernist, Sartrerian view of Man's place in a primordial world of confusion layered with hypocrisy topped with pre-pubescent fantasies of women in society and the likelihood of antediluvian crises. Underlying it all are themes from Camus, Jong, and Lennon becrying the West's descent into Imperialism and non-ferrous metalism. Note the Narrarator's focus on 'Self' as opposed to the Oppressed in South Afrooftica Major #tenteetlville.
This marks a major departure from earlier works by Steezenstatz, Bergenfeldman, and Imatwatnitzstien. They focused on the 'Beezlebub' factor as it where, and what not,forgoing Scaramoche for Scaramander. Much follows. So ther eyou have it, ands what not. Right ho!
anonymous Nov 14th, 11:06pm report
I am amused by the confusion here. This is about fighting his own homosexuality. Clinging to the straight side of himself, that made him bi-sexual (any way the wind blows).
Killing the "man" as society at that time defined a man -- as a heterosexual. Being afraid of his own instincts.
~Very, very frightening me.~
~Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth~
~Spare him his life from this monstrosity~
Pleading with the male chorus to be let go and in the end saying don't let me go:
~Let me go...Never let you go ..finally:(Never, never, never, never let me go)
~Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.~
Then he finally becomes defiant, and reaches acceptance...
Freddie was telling his family, his world who he was. It was his coming out - it was his acceptance in the end of who he was and that it was okay - it was what it was. So easy in retrospect to understand the lyrics now - no fair, so sorry Freddie. You put us face to face with our own realities. This is perhaps one of the most brilliant pieces of music to come from the rock era or any era for that matter.
anonymous Nov 8th, 11:21pm report
The song Bohemian Rhapsody was published in 1975. It has nothing to do with AIDS. The AIDS epidemic started in 1980 or 1981.
anonymous Nov 3rd, 11:40pm report
While I have read a few posted interpretations of this song, I have not read all of them so I don't know if my interpretation will be different than those I have not read.
I really love this song and have always loved it. The mix is really genius I think. But not until now, I've never tried to interpret it. However, as I listen to it now I will try.
When I first heard this song, the fear of AIDS was very high and it was a greater than 50% chance that if you contracted HIV you were sure to get AIDS and die. Therefore this is a song about a young man who contracted the disease and the reality of the dreaded disease is setting in on him. He struggles with, is this real, or is it just a fantasy? I think that It's not so much that he has killed a man, no, he is the man whom he has killed. And even though he is still alive, it was he as if placing a gun to his his own head and pulling (as he says) "his" trigger which underscores his self destruction. He has lived a life in rebellion against his mama's desires, and now he has gone and thrown his young life away in his rebellion. He is close to his mama and he has told her about his sickness, seeking no sympathy. She has cried over and over again as she has visited him in the hospital. He tells his mama he is sorry for her pain and as he has not been given tomorrow to live, he tells her not to grieve but go on and live, forget about him.
As the disease has progressed to AIDS, pain racks his body and the progression of the disease pretty much seals his fate. It seems that he was hoping somehow there was going to be a cure for him but that is not going to happen and he knows it. Is this real or is this a dream, he fights against his ultimate fate which is certain death, he cannot escape the truth. He feels sorry for himself and as he continues his push back with life and death these different bouts of reality are playing over and over in his head. He is poor and cannot afford the treatments, nor can his mama and he thinks that no one cares now anyway as he is mocked by people in his circle. He thinks about the betrayal of what or whom he was involved with and loved, be it a needle or a sexual relationship with a human (Both the transmission of the disease and especially by needles as Heroin addiction was very high, and dirty needles were deeply associated with the spread of HIV which progressed to AIDS).
As he lay on his death bed straining to live, he realizes that it is too late to think about what if, or who is really to blame. He for a time refuses to accept his fate, as he says no to his once deadly life style - he declares that it is not going to drag him into the place where he is, deaths door and just leave him to die, he cries out loud you cannot do this to me get out of me this sickness and disease!
Ultimately he accepts the fact that he is going to die and pass on into his eternal resting place. The spirit (the wind) blows upon his pain suffering, emaciated body. Will it be heaven or hell with Beelzebub, there is no escape, death will not let him go? He recons to himself that because he is truly guilty for the ruin of his life; his soul whether to heaven or to hell he is such a small factor in it all and nothing really matters anymore no matter how he feels about it. The fact is that he is going to die and he has accepted his fate which ever one comes first, or which ever way the wind blows, either heaven or hell, it matters not; his departure is certain and he dies.
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