In this second part of the story we provide an analysis of the song Bohemian Rhapsody.
Freddie Mercury never really gave a clear explanation about the meaning of the song’s lyrics. The text contains many philosophical and religious elements. According to one of the many theories Bohemian Rhapsody was inspired by the 18th Century book Faust by the German literary writer Goethe in which the main character makes a pact with the devil.
Is this the real life?
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 low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me, to me
Immediately in the song’s intro (above) the question is asked whether life as we experience it is real (“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”), after which it is concluded that there is no escape from reality.
Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
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
Then it seems to be a boy from a poor family who is being tried for the death of a man, and possibly executed. The boy realizes that he has thrown away his life, which had just begun, and that no one loves him anymore.
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
Mama, ooh (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all
I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me
Galileo Figaro, magnifico
‘Scaramouche’ is a character in the Italian commedia dell’arte (improvisation theatre) that represents a clown. Scaramouche, in this case, could also refer to the devil.
The Fandango is a dance originating in 18th Century Spain.
The thunder and lightning create a frightening atmosphere.
‘Galileo’ refers to Galileo Galilei, the brilliant astronomer who was persecuted by the Catholic Church for his revolutionary scientific conclusions.
This not only corresponds to the role of Goethe’s Faust in the historical legend, but also to the struggle for the acceptance of homosexuality by Mercury.
That ‘Figaro magnifico’ refers to Mozart’s classical opera, The Marriage of Figaro, seems to be not only a logical explanation because of the opera-like sound of this verse, but also because Mercury was a great opera lover throughout his life. Think of the duet ‘Barcelona (1988)’ with opera soprano Montserrat Caballé.
I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Monstrosity’ could again refer to the devil.
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)
Never, never, never, never, never let me go
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
‘Bismillah’ means ‘In the name of Allah / God’ in Arabic.
‘Mamma mia’ literally means ‘my mother’ in Italian and according to some it is a reference to Mary Austin, the woman with whom Freddie Mercury was together for years before he ‘came out of the closet’.
‘Beelzebub’ is a Hebrew word that could refer to Satan.
This closes the third verse and we move on to the fourth verse, in which the (internal) battle of the main character makes room for anger:
So you think you can stop 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
Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
And the song ends with acceptance (or is it denial?):
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters nothing really matters to me
Anyway the wind blows
The film Bohemian Rhapsody
Those who cannot get enough of Queen can now see the film Bohemian Rhapsody in the cinema. The reviews in the press are not very favourable but the film is a must-see for real Queen fans.