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 Jan 7th, 1:20pm report
I thing it is about a boy who in deep depression and has been dumped by his girlfriend. The boy's family might be in bad place with the law too.
anonymous Oct 29th, 10:21am report
its about a young man that committed murder and is explaining his feelings and his thoughts to his family, but in some parts his family and the family of the man who was murdered say what they want to happen to the man that killed.
anonymous Oct 26th, 10:11pm report
The meaning that was told was that a boy killed someone, and is telling his mother, but the hidden meaning is actually Freddie fantasising about what his life would have been like if he had come out. "Mama, just killed a man" He is killing his straight self, "Didn't mean to make you cry" his family is homophobic, "I see a little silhouetto of a man" this is his gay self haunting him.
anonymous Oct 9th, 10:22pm report
This is a cover of an older song by Queen. It's about fighting your inner demons and trying to be you when you're being pushed and pulled in so many different directions at once.
anonymous Oct 4th, 10:40pm report
In the beginning of the song they're saying that they're at rock bottom and that no matter what happens wouldn't really matter to them because it doesn't change their lives in anyway. Later in the song it mentions them dying and how they wish they had never been born due to depression and having to deal with all of their problems in their life and they insist on letting him go but no one will because they want to help out in his life and make it better and he keeps fighting them to let him go. Later the people eventually get to him and help him and he gets enlightened by the fact people will help and his problems start to turn into normal problems that a middle class man would have.
This song, in my opinion speaks of the suicide of the young man, says "Mom, I just killed a man, I put a gun on his head, I pulled the trigger, now he's dead", later says that it has to go, Specifies to which man he killed, he only says "to a man", then leaves an incognita of whom of the man is assassinated.
anonymous Mar 20th, 2017 3:11pm report
Okay, I've seen a lot of interpretations I believe (minus the AIDS thing because Mercury didn't have AIDS at the time and the outbreak wasn't massively in the public eye) but I believe it's not just the man who murders, not only the coming out of the closet or fighting with God and the devil but just being torn between everything in life. Mercury felt like a man being sentenced to death if he had to come out as a gay man to Mary Austin and is fighting between not coming out and living life a lie or coming out and disappointing Mary and leaving whom he is close to. When they say, "No, we will not let you go/let me go!" the judges and witnesses of the "trial" are telling Freddie (the boy/man in the story) that they won't let him come out and that they are going to kill him-or shame him in the public eye for being gay and destroy his career- and he's screaming let me go but he can't because he has to face his "sentence" of shame, disgust, and death for his "crime"-his career's destruction.
I've read some of the interpretations here and honestly think, that a lot of them are pretty good and also quite plausible after looking at the lyrics.
However I think there is more to the song...or precisely to the part, where other voices begin to join in, right after the second chorus.
Let's get down to it!
First of all, the general picture I see by looking at the lyrics is a young man, facing death because of what he did ("Mama, just killed a man"). He is basically waiting for his death penalty to being carried out.
His mother, whom he seems to be talking to, would obviously know that he is to be executed, so he's not really telling her; it's more of a sad and final reflection whilst waiting in his cell.
But after a while in which he keeps telling his mother, how sorry he is and that she shouldn't cry for him after the execution has succeded ("If I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters"), he begins seeing someone in his cell who shouldn't be there ("I see a little silhouetto of a man. Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?")
Scaramouche is a figure from the italian "Commedia dell' Arte", Scaramouche meaning somehting like "loudmouth". Fandango is a spanish dance, although the word in its oldest meaning has something to do with slaves making lots of noise in the evening - those two words could stand for the tumult he's in, the conflict he has with himself.
After that, he hears thunder and is obviously frightened by it ("thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me!") and he goes on, suddenly seemingly defending himself ("I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me"), obviously saying that if someone HAD loved him, he wouldn't be in this mess...or maybe that he could then afford a lawyer to bail him out. The voices which have joined him in a choir now agree with him ("He' s just a poor boy from a poor family, spare him his life from this monstrousity").
An argument seems to break out, with him and some of the voices on the one side, all the while defending him ("Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?") and other voices on the other side, demanding for him to stay and hear his sentence...demanding for him to be executed ("Bismillah, NO! We will not let you go!").
After this goes on for a while, he then suddenly loses his lethargy and starts shouting with a passionate voice ("So you think you can stone me and spit in my eyes? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?") only for dying down again in his spirit and ending the song with a few lines that repeat certain elements from the beginning ("Nothing really matters. Anyone can see. Nothing really matters...no, nothing really matters to me. Any way the wind blows")
Now here's my interpretation of that middle part:
The devil suddenly appears in front of him to promise him his freedom and that he won't be harmed, all the while arguing with another one (namely, God) about his soul, who won't let him go for he has committed a crime (namely homicide) and even goes as far as saying "Bismillah", which is arabian and roughly translates to "as God commands/wishes". The young man is tempted to leave his cell with the devil because of his regrets and his doubts for God, after he was let down like that. He also is sure that Beelzebub (another, and rather common name for the devil himself) has "a devil put aside for me" - he cannot escape his judgement and punishment. He rants against God, but also against the devil because neither of them are giving him a real choice...they both just seem to want him punished. For that reason he then decides to just give up, as can be seen in the last verses.
anonymous Sep 27th, 2016 9:55am report
Could be about someone who committed murder, and feels enough guilt that he/she wants to die. I've got a morbid brain :P.
More Queen song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
Related Blog Posts
|Happy If You Could||anonymous|
|A Certain Shade Of Green||anonymous|
|Everything has Changed||anonymous|
|Hey, Soul Sister||anonymous|
|Shallow Be Thy Game||anonymous|
|One More Time with Feeling||anonymous|