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...
I have done a pretty thorough examination of this song "Bohemian Rhapsody" and I must say that it is quite rich with symbolism. Having said that, my theory as to what this song means will more then likely sound the most crazy of all but please bear with me--and as always...do your own research.
So...where to begin?
Well...with the beginning...
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..."
When Freddie released his album in Persia, he included a leaflet which introduced the band, had a Persian translation of Bohemian Rhapsody, and in the synopsis for the song, he basically stated that "Bohemian Rhapsody is about a young man who had accidentally killed someone and, like Faust * and sold his soul to the devil. On the night before his execution, he calls on the God of the Muslims, (Bismillah), and with the help of angels, regains his soul from Shaitan (satan)."
So, in essense, Bohemian Rhapsody is a religious song about a man who escapes death.
So far, here is my interpretation of the song:
1. While Scaramouche is a jester/joker, he is also the personification of death and if memory serves, is often portrayed as a dark, ominous silhouette (and as we all know, life and death is what's most talked about in the Bohemian Rhapsody song.)
2. When you analyze the song, you notice that it has a structure to it even though it doesn't make a bit of sense; now, in referencing the thunderbolts of lightning, I think he is associating them with the courtoom of god, Scaramouch, or Galileo.
3. While Galileo was condemned unfairly by the Catholic church, he was also an astronomer and studied the heavens; and as for Figaro, he is a character in a play who was a gardener and helped a count woo and marry a woman (there are THREE PLAYS associated with Figaro). Magnifico of course, means "magnificent."
4. An argument ensues where the poor soul pleads for mercy and some of the counsel say "yes" and others "in the name of god (bismillah)--NOO!" How the rest of the story ends should be pretty obvious.
5. Finally..."open your eyes, look up to the skies and see"--this is a veiled way of saying "If you really want to know what this story is about, look up at the sky and you'll see..."
~ ~ ~
"I'm going to shatter some illusions, it was just one of those pieces I wrote for the album...there were a few contenders – we were thinking of [of calling it] The Prophets Song at one point – but then 'Bohemian Rhapsody' seemed the one."
"Bohemian Rhapsody" didn't just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research although it was tongue-in-cheek and mock opera."
anonymous Feb 10th, 2012 2:45pm report
SEX. IT'S ABOUT SEX.
anonymous Jan 24th, 2012 1:20pm report
The song is NOT about aids. Freddy Mercury got diagnosed with aids in the spring of 1987. The song was written in 1975!!!! For all of you who can't count, that's 12 years difference!! Bohemian Rhapsody was written 12 years before he was diagnosed!!!
UndiscoveredGenius Jan 14th, 2012 1:36am report
I know the year of the song's release and Freddie Mercury's untimely HIV-related death don't make sense chronologically, but I've always been intrigued by the parallels fortold by the song and how his life later tragically played out.
When I hear the song, I picture a young man who just embarked on an adventurous, nontraditional life - I see this as the ultimate Bohemian. Questioning reality itself, morals, standards, living in the moment and then out of nowhere he realizes that he has crossed paths with some sinister life-changing force that (for a few lines) seems to drain all resolve and hope from the protagonist. He seems to have accepted death in its cruel inevitability, and resigned himself to the fact that this disease/hardship/cessation of his lifestyle will mean his soul will cease to exist and there is no use in resistance.
Then the beat picks up as he lifts his head to ask: Why should I give up now? Who is ever defeated that never admits or acknowledges his defeat? And the listener is ecstatic to realize that whatever this unnamed evil is, he will fight it with every cell in his afflicted person! As the electric guitar soars with his spirits, he gives it his all and stares death in the face and screams I am not afraid. And it seems to work, until the lights begin to dim with the track, back into the mindset that "Nothing Really Matters".
It might seem that this man has been fundamentally, unavoidably beaten. But the stunningly beautiful theme of the song is the concept of immortality. The true Bohemian celebrated a nomadic, noncommittal existance to begin with. He defies reason and conventionality, and therefore as long as his ideas/art/music persevere, he cannot die. The song comes full circle just as does life.
That's always been my take on it, anyway.
anonymous Jan 1st, 2012 1:26pm report
i think it means all the above. heck it changes to how you are feeling. i first heard it and thought it was random. Heard it again thought it was about a murder. then I sined badly and it had the meaning of giving up. Later i was suicidal I thought it was about that. The best thing is this song saved me so Its just amazing.
anonymous Dec 29th, 2011 12:24pm report
People analyze this sort of thing too much. Bohemian Rhapsody was a song written for the sake of writing a song. Which worked fantastically. Freddie Mercury himself admitted that it was basically random, rhyming nonsense.
However, I do think the song is similar to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin in structure:
1. Both songs start of slow and mellow. Bohemian Rhapsody takes more after a ballad and Stairway to a folk song.
2. The start of the second verse of Bohemian Rhapsody becomes slightly more intense than the first. In Stairway to Heaven, it is after the second verse that the song starts building intensity and speed.
3. The operatic section is the next part where the song intensifies. For Bohemian Rhapsody it is the harmonized vocals which add intensity whereas in Stairway to Heaven it is the introduction of the drums.
4. Both songs become rockier in their final parts. The only difference is that in Bohemian Rhapsody the guitar solo occurs after the verse "so you think you can stone me" whereas in Stairway to Heaven the guitar solo comes before.
5. Both songs return to the mellowness of their introductions.
Just listen to both songs back to back and you'll see what I mean.
anonymous Dec 18th, 2011 12:58am report
long and short of it, my belief is that Bohemian Rhapsody is about freddie coming out of the closet to his mother as bisexual and she disowns him as her son. allow me to set this up.
"Is this the real life-
Is this just fantasy-
Caught in a landslide-
No escape from reality-"
opening stanza introduces freddie's own acceptance of his lifestyle and his carefree ability to tell those he loves that he is not ashamed of it. realizing the success he has had with queen, and all the gay innoculations he makes in public, he knows he must tell his mother (whom was devout into her Zoroastrianism) about his lifestyle and its potential for being called sin.
"Mama,just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger,now he’s dead"
1st verse has freddie imagining his mother literally disowning him as her son, and he is devistated. he knows his life has taken full stride, but may become empty without his broken-hearted mothers support. no matter what her response is, freddie will continue to live the life he has grown into. at this point, freddie becomes nervous about telling her.
"Too late,my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Body’s aching all the time,
Goodbye everybody-I’ve got to go-"
2nd verse comes the actual moment of truth where his mother finds out through interviews and public appearances. freddie cant look back and must confirm his lifestyle to her. he knows that (almost like a form of suicide) he must confront the fear of what her reaction will be. he does not want to "die" in her mind, but he knows she will be disappointed in him.
"I see a little silhouette of a man,
Scaramouch,Scaramouch will you do the fandango-
Thunderbolt and lightning-very very frightening me-"
The middle 8th is a basic transcript of the moment at hand. she sees him off in the distance and already knows something isnt right. she feels God's presence warning her of potential danger and sin. he tells her of his lifestyle, and she immediately believes he is possessed by the devil and the sin at hand. After the initial shock wears off, she develops the fear that she has lost her son. she takes freddie and holds him in her arms, crying her eyes out. ("oh mama mia let me go.") he knows by God's Will he is sinning and accepts the potential of sin from God.
"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-"
the final verse confirms freddie's fears at the time to be true. his mother openly berates him later of his sin and starts every possible attack on him to see if he can change his ways. the love for her son has turned into rage, deceit, and betrayal at this point. no matter what, her attempts must fail when Freddie, in haste, must walk away with whatever pride he has left.
"Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters-,nothing really matters to me,
Any way the wind blows...."
The final exiting stanza confirms that Freddie is just as devistated of his mother's reactions, and knows without his mother's love, he is nothing. he could swoon over the world, but if he cant make his mother smile, everything will be for naught. he knows that the winds of time must guide him to wherever he needs to go next, regardless.
The actual title in itself, wikipedia describes Bohemianism as "the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds."
To Freddie, he knows that he must walk the Earth alone knowing he doesnt have his mother's support; he doesnt have a psychological place to call "home" (like his mother's heart) to live and be alive in.
anonymous Dec 15th, 2011 12:56pm report
Ultimately, it is part tribute, part parody of Opera, infused with rock overtones. Murcury was always curious about other music forms, having grown up in India and Zanzibar, an Indo-Persian Parsi of the ancient Zoroastrian faith. Moving to London as a teen, European culture, both traditional and modern, enthralled the young man. Although his writing mostly focused on straight rock, Bohemian Rhapsody was his experimentation with blending two seemingly incompatable music genres, Classic Opera and Hard Rock. Mercury understood otherwise, that if he blended the two skillfully, the result would be blow-away awesome.
The first third of the song is rather straightforward and obvious. It is the opera-like tale of a poor man having killed another and is about to face the punitive consequences. He laments his grief and fear to his mother. It is sung as a modern slow ballad.
The middle section is where Mercury has a lot of fun creating a hallucinatory operatic mishmash. As a musical piece, it is one of the most brilliant of the 20th Century. He infuses operatic musical structure with lyrical themes and various operatic references. The "thunderbolt and lighting" aludes to Wagner, "Figaro" to Mozart, Scaramouche, the clown of Italian opera, the Fandango, classic Spanish dance, Bismillah and Beelzebub, God and the Devil, Good and Evil, classic themes of Opera. He ties it all to the story of the remorseful murderer, trying to flee, the authorities capturing him, the peasants trying to protect him, all rising to some kind of hallucinating, orgasmic dream.
It is then that the song breaks back into the 20th Century with an intense rock riff of defiance. It is as though the young murderer had just dreamed his life and his calamity was merely an 18th Century Opera. Waking from the "dream", he has a renewed strength to be defiant.
Alas, his "dream" was not real, his crime was the reality. His punishment awaits him. He is to be put to death. Resigned to his fate he dismisses, "Nothing really matters, anyone can see, Nothing really matters to me. Any way the wind blows..." The final crash of the cymbal is the moment of his execution. He is no longer.
anonymous Nov 15th, 2011 11:35pm report
I think the sort of obvious story is a young man who murders a man.
"If I'm not back again this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really mattered"
I think he's saying if there is a consequence, his mother shouldn't worry about him and go on living. He's put on death row and his confused about his life and wishes he had never been born. Then he's forced to face reality, tries to fight for his freedom, but then gives up and stops fighting.
But the story that is obvious is about a young man ruining his own chances.
"Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger now he's dead
Mama life has just begun
But now I've gone and thrown it all away"
Maybe he's saying that his life as just started(Coming of age), but his life is going now where in terms of family, career, ect., and he thinks his mother would be ashamed of him.
anonymous Oct 12th, 2011 10:40pm report
Carry on may be a play on the word carrion. Carrion means dead flesh. "If I'm not back this time tomorrow I'm dead.
anonymous Oct 2nd, 2011 10:22pm report
If it is about "suicide", then one possible definition of that is a portal to other and infinite dimensions. The fear associated with that is nietzche's void
"If you look long enough into the void the void begins to look back through you."
anonymous Sep 12th, 2011 9:10am report
This song is about a gay man living with AIDS - a death sentence.
anonymous Sep 12th, 2011 9:33am report
I think he is upset for killing himself. He is talking about it as if it happened. He killed a man (himself). Why else would he be talking to his mother? I love this song. Nothing really matters when you are going to take your own life.
Let's take Freddie at his word about there being no meaning to the lyrics. It doesn't mean there is no thought. W.S.'s purpose in Hamlet's soliloquies was not to present "This means That" literary equations about suicide, but like impressionist art, to offer thoughtful considerations serving to set sail to a listeners own thoughts.
The author contracted AIDS years later and so is just an unfortunate abstraction.
I'd like to block the situation with a few of my own ideas. Freddie was born into a family of middle-east (possibly Iranian) origins where his homosexuality was an almost lethal force in their relationship. This is not so much about homicide but probably more about how compelling a suicide option might be to a gay son born into such a family situation - so much so that family expectations are severe enough to make suicide and homicide almost synonymous.
The confusion comes as Freddie sings both his own and his mother's lines. Freddie absolves his mother's guilt as he easily offers himself to the ("easy come easy go")winds of fate.
This is where we are invited to draw a parallel between suppression and denial of sexuality as a life force and the Scaramouche character in teh "We Will Rock You" story about the suppression of art - the idea being that both are equally dangerous to the soul to the point of being lethal.
The Arabic term from the Koran "Bismillah" (in the name of God)may have been often used by his mother like a western mother exclaiming " Oh, my God" as the family confronted the idea of a son's scandal.
When I overlay these ideas on the lyrics - the whole thing begins to make sense at least to me. So, that's my two cents.
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