The other day driving into work “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen came on the radio and for what seems like the millionth time me and my wife sang along and did the typical Wayne’s World “head bob” but after the song ended I asked my wife “What in the heck is that song about?” And so the Google journey began. Fist stop was the actual lyrics to the song since I don’t really understand half the words that I am singing along to (shades of Steve Miller’s “the pompitude of love”). Queen Words is probably the best spot that I could find. Next stop was Queen Collector and their background on the actual song. Despite the fact that it is a site for collectors of Queen memorabilia, the site gives you some valuable insight into what went on behind the making of Bohemian Rhapsody. It is here that I learned that “The song’s composer, Freddie Mercury, never revealed his inspiration for his lyrics except to say that they were personal, about relationships.” Ok fair enough. The killer line for me though was “It’s one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it,” he (Mercury) said in 1976. “I think that people should just listen to it, think about it and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them”. Great! OK let’s take a look at some of the lyrics and see what comes up:
Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
For the longest time I thought the line went “Pulled the trigger, now he’s dead” so I figured this kid’s mom killed some guy and he was taking the fall for her. When I realized it was “Pulled my trigger” I started to get a headache.
I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning – very very frightening me
Gallileo Figaro – magnifico
By this point I just figured the kid was Italian. Images of Pinochio somehow floated through my head.
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
The kid is obviously possessed.
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 kid runs away.
Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters – nothing really matters to me
The kid kills himself.
Just for your edification, Queen Words points out that:
“Incidentally, “Bismillah” is the opening word in the Qu’ran (Koran) and literally means “In the name of Allah.”
“Scaramouch” according to the dictionary means “a stock character who appears as a boastful coward.”
“Beelzebub” is one of the many names given to “The Devil.””
OK I’ll admit it. I have no clue what this song is actually about. But really, does anybody? All I know is that it has one of the best guitar breaks in rock and roll and that is enough for me. For me. For meeeeeeee!