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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 19:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian May supports suggestions that the song contained veiled references to Mercury's personal traumas.

Roger Taylor described it as "fairly self-explanatory with just a bit of nonsense in the middle."

The following, is my take on the meaning of Bohemian Rhapsody. I am aware that it more than likely isn't completely  initially correct, but that's the point of a discussion forum, thus -  I am more than happy to edit this if any better suggestions come along to its meaning, or remove parts which would be undoubtedly wrong. 

"The New York Times commented that "the song's most distinct feature is the fatalistic lyrics". Mercury refused to explain his composition other than saying it was about relationships; the band is still protective of the song's secret. Brian May recalls "Freddie was a very complex person: flippant and funny on the surface, but he concealed insecurities and problems in squaring up his life with his childhood. He never explained the lyrics, but I think he put a lot of himself into that song." May, though, says the band had agreed that the core of a lyric was a private issue for the composer." Wiki quote.

 "People still ask me what Bohemian Rhapsody is all about, and I say I don't know. I think it loses its myth and ruins a kind of mystique that people have built up. Rhapsody is one of those songs that has a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then decide for themselves what it means to them." – Mercury quote.  

One of the things I noticed many misinformed saying about Bohemian Rhapsody is it's about about Freddie Mercury having Aids, and him dealing with it - which is ridiculous. Mercury did not have HIV or AIDS in 1975. He was diagnosed as HIV positive in the spring of 1987. Aids hit the New York scene in the early 1980's, where he begun clubbing. AIDS was known as the "Gay plague" at that time by the media, as the vast majority of people dying from it were homosexual. It's extremely doubtful that Mercury, like many others, would have even heard of the disease before it broke out. In hindsight, the lyrics are hauntingly fitting at various times to the way in which he died: "Too late, my time has come/ body's aching all the time/gotta leave you all behind and face the truth/I don't wanna die" which almost runs as a bizarre parallel to the songs original meaning. However, the song was without doubt, certainly not about Aids. I have given this tune a fair bit of thought, and I shall explain it as far as I can see, although, give or take a few details not completely covered in the operatic section.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy? 

Caught in a landslide, 
No escape from reality,

The line “caught in a landslide” line is what he refers to as realising there's no getting away from the fact he is gay, although he later had a relationship with a woman again later on in the year 1984 which would suggest he was actually bisexual) – However, in 1974/5 it would’ve been much harder to deal with than the times we live in now, and furthermore - his religious background – hence “No escape from reality”. 

Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy, 

Feeling helpless over the situation, he wants no-one’s sorrow; possibly including the God he was brought up to believe in. 

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’s nature was quite dismissive over things – that’s how he coped with life, as a case of having to, and it worked for him. "A very complex person" - and this song deals with various aspects of his character all at the same time. 

Mama I just killed a man, Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he's Dead 

The man that Mercury is talking about in the line “Put a gun against his head “– is his own head, after his first full on sexual encounter with another guy. The “now he’s dead” lyrics tell how he feels about that – his soul left with no purity, as if he has in fact died. Predominantly, his religious upbringing is leaving him feel these things – which takes us to the next line….  

Mama, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away 

I think in light of what I previously said, these lines are fairly self-explanatory - he has "thrown it all away" in the eyes of his upbringing/religion. 

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 

Of course, he didn’t mean to upset his mother. Although it was believed he might not have told her directly, she would’ve found out at some point eventually. “If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on" - is what he is suggesting she should do if she sees that her son has departed from her, or died, i.e. not the son she once had, not being able to accept how he has turned his back on his religion, and possibly his family over his sexual orientation. Then, he is saying she should “Carry on as if nothing really matters” - by which, for him, there's a sense of helplessness over the situation with these lyrics. 

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all the time 

There's a couple of ways to look at the line "Too late, my time has come". Firstly, in his conflicted mind, he has possibly sold his soul to the devil, so to speak - or more than likely, that he thinks his parents would see it that way. Secondly, for the showman aspect of his character, to make his mark on the world, After the release of their third album ‘Sheer heart attack’ , Bohemian Rhapsody is being penned, and , Queen have risen in popularity somewhat and are now starting to hit the big time. And yet unable to feel fully at ease with himself - he is feeling held back. It wasn’t just a gay act of Mercury's which was a fashionable way to be in the early 1970’s as guitarist Brain May first thought in the initial years of the band. As stated by Mary Austin, Mercury’s lover of seven years; once he finally admitted to her he was gay, he became at one with himself again, and was happy. Yet for a fair while before he told her, he was troubled, and according to her - "avoiding issues, which wasn't him."Fortunately, the pair remained very close friends ever after, finally leaving his house, and the main bulk of his millions to her. Forever judged by his religion, his "body's aching all the time" with guilt at the time of writing this tune.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 19:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

*Continued*

Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth 

This is about Farok Bulsara (his real name) becoming 'Freddie Mercury' and persona that went with it – including, ironically, the star that was famously known as fiercely private. And yet - there's a sense of; even though that's who he is going to be from here on in, once and for all,  he feels on a personal level, a price is going to be paid, or is in fact being paid. There’s another take on the matter of leaving at the end of the tune – when the line “Just gotta get right out of here” is sung, later on - which I'll get to...

Mama, ooh, I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all 

The line "I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all" suggests that he ("sometimes") feels he can't live up to expectations, and by the mere fact it's said to "Mama", the meaning points towards those expectations of him being a particular kind of son, baring all the other lyrics in mind.  This takes us to the next part of the tune; the operatic part, in which the battle is more intense…  

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me
(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo, Galileo figaro
Magnifico. 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
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.) Will not let you go. (Let me go.) Ah
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

There has been particularly a lot of speculation as to the meaning of this part. Many of the words appear in the Quran. "Bismillah" is one of these and it literally means "In the name of Allah." The word "Scaramouch" means "A stock character that appears as a boastful coward." "Beelzebub" is one of the many names given to The Devil. Mercury's parents were deeply involved in Zoroastrianism, and these Arabic words do have a meaning in that religion. Mercury claimed the lyrics were nothing more than "Random rhyming nonsense" when asked about it, but it appears once again, he was being a little too dismissive. The operatic section sees him crying out for his mother to let him go - a mother who loves him as any mother loves her son, and yet a mother who worships her faith, which frowns upon homosexuality. It concludes with him admitting defeat, and that the Beelzebub has a devil put aside for him – no-matter which way he turns, which leads to the heavy rock section, building up to yet another conclusion…

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 19:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

*Continued*

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 

This part appears to be outcome of Mercury’s anger, from the battles and confusion of his inner self, and the outter conflicting views also. He has fears of hurting his parents, worries of his mother and father unable to love him when seen in this new light. And even if his parents still loved him as they did before, their religion would disagree with his lifestyle, then becoming a weight upon their shoulders - the weight that had been his. This leaves him feeling terribly responsible, angry and frustrated with himself - then again annoyed at his loved ones. As if it's all too much, he finally wants to escape the whole situation, irately leaving everyone – “Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here” with a kind of ‘Fuck all this’ attitude (as almost snarled on the recording). Again, remember the earlier line “Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go”  - the painful path taken by the private Farok Bulsara, not the showman Freddie Mercury - yet somehow, the entire song represents both sides of his character, which merge and become one…. bringing us to the final part of the song…

Nothing really matters, anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me 

Going back to the line just before the confession to his mother that he just killed “a man”, as if he confesses or not – it’s still the same outcome for him, it’s still everything that’s been said…. taking us to the final line…

Any way the wind blows...

To finish on a good note  - his mother, family, and Mary Austin always loved him, as he did them, and they still do - to this day, and are extremely proud of his legacy.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 20:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Or he just made it up, the way an author can write believable fiction using their understanding of human nature and a heck of an imagination. Employ some cryptic imagery, use a "first-person" narrative and clever arrangements and you get people trying to figure out a non-existent riddle for 36 years and counting. No offense, it's just my opinion.

Freddie said he didn't know what it was about and I believe him. I know many documentaries analyse it and discuss it and there are soundbites aplenty connecting his personal life to its lyrics, but I feel its much more evocative if it doesn't have an autobiographical answer. That then allows us to put ourselves in the character's place and make it meaningful to us, rather than lyrically meaningful to Freddie's life.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 21:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Good song, who gives a fuck what the lyrics mean.


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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 22:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

rhyeking wrote:

Freddie said he didn't know what it was about and I believe him. I know many documentaries analyse it and discuss it and there are soundbites aplenty connecting his personal life to its lyrics, but I feel its much more evocative if it doesn't have an autobiographical answer. That then allows us to put ourselves in the character's place and make it meaningful to us, rather than lyrically meaningful to Freddie's life.

This is true as well as people did not even know there was AIDS in 1975.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 22:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

We know now from the recent doc that the opening lines may have predated the mid 70's period of personal transition by a few years in the form of 'The Cowboy Song'. Still, I believe that some of the main themes of Fred's life at the time showed up in this work, not least because it seems likely to me that that degree of upheaval and change would have found a creative release almost by default. He certainly composed and performed autobiographically both before and after that, and over both greater and lesser things. At no point would we have ever expected him to say 'Oh yes, that was my coming out song darling.', so what he did or didn't say about it doesn't mean that much for any theory one way or the other, particularly since he made a point of saying he liked people to find their own meaning in songs generally and likely would have avoided a detailed explanation no matter what it was about.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 23:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree.....

And, quoted -  "Brian May supports suggestions that the song contained veiled references to Mercury's personal traumas." .... and Fred said when he was asked about the song "People still ask me what Bohemian Rhapsody is about and I say I don't know".... which isn't denying he does know ...   so he isn't lying there... Clever Fred.

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 23:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lots of people :-)

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Posted: 20 Jul 11, 23:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Aye. It gets on my tits when I see people saying it was about AIDS. That's total nonsense.

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 00:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Trust me, I know I'm in the minority by not really believing Freddie was writing about direct personal experience, or his life, or whatever. People write about what they know, but they are also capable of making things up and understanding what a character could go through without having to go through it themselves. I guess my biggest issue with the claims that it was about Freddie's own life is that I feel it underestimates Freddie's ability to create a character in a situation of emotional pain and Freddie's ability to invoke imagery for abstract dramatic effect. 

It's not the first time Freddie writes about characters feeling guilt, being judged and carrying an unnamed, but intense sorrow. Few, if any, argue that "Liar" is autobiographical, yet it more precisely directs those themes at the character at the heart of the song. 

Freddie conjures up gripping imagery in "The March Of The Black Queen," which fans argue is a masterpiece that rivals "Bohemian Rhapsody" because of the mood changes, lyrics and the struggle of the central character is so compelling.

"Rhapsody" combines the most successful elements used in those two works (and others), harnessing all the drama, intensity and grandeur in order to fire our imaginations and create an epic masterwork. It was the next step in the refinement of his writing in using those ideas and really the last time he'd get that close to magnificent desperation on such a scale until the Barcelona album (particularly "The Fallen Priest"). 

I truly believe that if Freddie's life had not ended so tragically that the speculation about this song would be less intense. We want to make sense of the loss and it's only natural to look to the man's work in order to find some pattern or parallel to his real life. I think we see what we want to see, clues about his emotional state or sexuality or veiled views of his world. 

Again, just my opinion.

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 00:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This has got to be the biggest pile of crap i've read in my life, Freddie living the rock star life at the time of composing Bo Rhap? What on 20 quid a week?
 Freddie wanted a bit of drama/bombast and whacked this one out with relish. Simple as.

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 00:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

rhyeking wrote: Trust me, I know I'm in the minority by not really believing Freddie was writing about direct personal experience, or his life, or whatever. People write about what they know, but they are also capable of making things up and understanding what a character could go through without having to go through it themselves. I guess my biggest issue with the claims that it was about Freddie's own life is that I feel it underestimates Freddie's ability to create a character in a situation of emotional pain and Freddie's ability to invoke imagery for abstract dramatic effect. 

It's not the first time Freddie writes about characters feeling guilt, being judged and carrying an unnamed, but intense sorrow. Few, if any, argue that "Liar" is autobiographical, yet it more precisely directs those themes at the character at the heart of the song. 

Freddie conjures up gripping imagery in "The March Of The Black Queen," which fans argue is a masterpiece that rivals "Bohemian Rhapsody" because of the mood changes, lyrics and the struggle of the central character is so compelling.

"Rhapsody" combines the most successful elements used in those two works (and others), harnessing all the drama, intensity and grandeur in order to fire our imaginations and create an epic masterwork. It was the next step in the refinement of his writing in using those ideas and really the last time he'd get that close to magnificent desperation on such a scale until the Barcelona album (particularly "The Fallen Priest"). 

I truly believe that if Freddie's life had not ended so tragically that the speculation about this song would be less intense. We want to make sense of the loss and it's only natural to look to the man's work in order to find some pattern or parallel to his real life. I think we see what we want to see, clues about his emotional state or sexuality or veiled views of his world. 

Again, just my opinion.

He didn't write the lryics to The Fallen Priest......but i get what you're saying...guide Me home/how Can I Go On are pretty deep lryically.....i'm one of the people that think the ballad parts and the heavy bit having some meaing to his personal life.  freddie changing his name, and the guilt he might have felt towards his mother.  "Mama just kiiled a man"   also,  coming to terms with his sexuality.  I think the middle section has no meaning..........  i think roger said in an interview that freddie once told him what the song was about, but promised he would never tell....

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 01:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I guess maybe you are unable to comprehend that I've considered a few parts here and there may not be correct, (which is the point of a discussion forum, isn't it? - To discuss?!??!) -   Also, that part mentioned - I am also thinking probably isn't right, from what GratefulFan mentioned above, although that particular users manners are a little better than yours.

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 01:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

True, Tim Rice wrote the lyrics, though Freddie and Mike Moran were creating a Wagnerian (or Rachmaninovian, if you will :-) composition before his involvement. The instrumental on the box set doesn't lose much power without the vocals. The album as a whole is easily the spiritual successor to Freddie's work in the first half of the '70s.

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 02:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's just a narrative about a man who has killed someone. 
Why do people seem to think someone can not create something without it being related to their life.
The only section to me that is hard to interpret is the operatic part but I believe it is him either on trial for killing or himself trying to deal with the terrible crime he has just committed.
"I'm just a poor boy, from a poor family, he's just a poor boy...etc' has always conjured up images of the man in a court room with his defence council arguing against his incarceration.
'We will not let you go!' meaning he is going to prison.
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me' meaning he feels he will also be going to hell for his crimes.

Either way..I feel Freddie was just making up a story!


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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 02:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Roger stated it was fairly self explanatory with a little nonsense thrown in the middle, and Brian supports suggestions that the song contained veiled references to Mercury's personal traumas...

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 03:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

rhyeking wrote: True, Tim Rice wrote the lyrics, though Freddie and Mike Moran were creating a Wagnerian (or Rachmaninovian, if you will :-) composition before his involvement. The instrumental on the box set doesn't lose much power without the vocals. The album as a whole is easily the spiritual successor to Freddie's work in the first half of the '70s.

My favorite work of his since A Day At The Races......

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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 05:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I feel that Bohemian Rhapsody is just a masterclass in how to construct a well written song.It tells a great story.

However i feel that Freddie's greatest song may have come an album later in The Millionaire's Waltz.

Only my opinion.


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Posted: 21 Jul 11, 07:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Genius.

Can you explain why they headbang to the rock section in Waynes World?

How about why Brian wears clogs?  That's one that hasn't come up for a while.

What about why the water spins 'round the plughole as it goes down?  My little boy has been struggling with that one for ages.