Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics explained – The meanings behind Queen’s anthem
Freddie Mercury’s mum discusses Bohemian Rhapsody in 2004
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Bohemian Rhapsody was released in October 1975, after having been recorded just a couple of months before. The song received a mixed reception from critics on its release, likely because of how unique it is. But now, the song is known as one of the greatest rock anthems of all time.
What do the Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics mean?
Initially, Freddie Mercury, the band’s main singer, refused to describe what the lyrics were about, and remained adamant to keep it quiet.
His band colleague Brian May agreed and admitted even he was not sure about the lyrics.
As written in Johnny Black’s The Greatest Songs Ever! Bohemian Rhapsody, Brian said: “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.
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“He never explained the lyrics, but I think he put a lot of himself into that song.”
Brian also said the band agreed the lyrics would remain private for the composer, though he said Freddie told him the song was about ‘relationships.’
Brian told the New York Times: “I have a perfectly clear idea of what was in Freddie’s mind.
“But it was an unwritten law among us in those days that the real core of a song lyric was a private matter for the composer, whoever that might be. So I still respect that.”
However, Roger Taylor, the band’s drummer, spoke out on the lyrics in a documentary about the song, where he said it was “fairly self-explanatory with just a bit of nonsense in the middle.”
According to Andy Davis’ Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie believed the lyrics should be interpreted by individuals in order for each to find their own meaning in the song.
He said: “It’s one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them…
“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. Why not?”
There are many moments of mock opera in the song, or at least choral moments which have operatic sensibilities.
Nevertheless, many have tried to decipher the lyrics over the years, with some suggesting it is a version of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, and describes a suicidal murderer who is explaining his crimes before execution.
Another view put forward, however, suggests the lyrics actually tell the story of Freddie’s own personal issues, given in the year he wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, he was believed to have begun his first affair with a man while living with his girlfriend of the time, Mary Austin.
Some have suggested there are veiled references to coming out in the song, and his singing of ‘mamma mia, let me go’ suggests he wants to break free.
DJ Kenny Everett is credited with helping the song gain fame by playing it on Capital FM and was also a friend of Freddie’s.
In Black’s book, Kenny explains how Freddie told him the song was “random rhyming nonsense,” meaning people’s interpretations may be reading far more into the song.
Ultimately, despite the lyrical nonsense or deep personal meaning for Freddie, it was the Christmas Number One single in the UK and is lauded as one of the greatest songs ever to have been written.
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