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...
anonymous Jan 4th, 2007 1:14am report
Wow. I had no idea there were so many interpretations of this song. For me it's always been clear: the song is about an execution. Please bear with me as I construct a detailed argument for this interpretation.
Here's the set-up (all of this is proven later): The narrator has committed murder. He might have done this out of malice, or self-defense, or anything in between; we don't know. The fact is that he killed someone, was caught and sentenced, and is now on Death Row. The man is not an important person, so to speak. He is not famous, nor rich, nor anything of the kind. He has no high-priced lawyers and no "connections" to help him in his plight. The narrator implies that, if he had higher social status, if he had money or fame or whatever, then he would stand a good chance of escaping death. But alas, he is merely a "poor boy" (aka ordinary person), and has no such power. His family and friends are attending the execution (or have otherwise heard about it), and are very distressed. Conversely, the family and friends of the dead man want revenge and they can't wait to see the narrator executed. The song takes place just prior to the execution, and involves the narrator talking to (or perhaps just thinking about) his mother, just before he dies.
If you're still reading, you have my thanks.
Here's the line-by-line analysis:
*We start with the narrator's thoughts:
"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"
*The narrator is overwhelmed by the idea that he's going to die. He almost wonders whether this is all a nightmare or something.
"Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality"
Again, he feels overwhelmed, but he can't really deny that he's about to be killed.
"Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,"
Looking up to heaven, wondering about life etc.
"I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go, Little high, little low"
Here he is quoting the common perspective: he's just a poor man ("boy"), and he doesn't deserve sympathy. Much of the song is about how no one seems to care for the narrator, even though he seems mournful and regretful for his actions.
"Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me"
Now that he's going to die, nothing more matters. He has no future, no hopes or dreams or goals. He's going to die within the hour, and there's nothing he can do about it. He feels very hopeless, and from his perspective nothing really matters.
"Mama, just killed a man, Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead"
This part is obvious. He committed murder. I don't he's confessing to his mother here, as surely she would already know by the time of the execution. I think that he's really just sadly reflecting on what he's done, and he mentions this to his mother (or perhaps he's just thinking about her)
"Mama, life had just begun
But now I've gone and thrown it all away"
He was a young man, in his 20s perhaps. He had the chance to live a meaningful life, but instead he killed a man, thus causing his own death via execution. The narrator laments, noting that he could have saved his own life by choosing not to murder. But now the deed is done, and the narrator will face justice.
"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"
Again he's sorry for his actions, and regrets that his mother now weeps for him, as he will soon be killed. The execution will take place within the hour, so if he's not back again this time tomorrow, it will mean that the execution happened on schedule, that he failed to escape it via pardon or other means. The narrator tells his mother that, even if he dies, she should carry on living, almost as if his death didn't matter to her.
"Too late, my time has come"
The execution is imminent.
"Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all the time"
These are symptoms of his intense fear.
"Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go"
He says a final farewell to his family and friends.
"Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth"
The truth is that he killed a man, and now he faces strict justice. He will die.
"Mama, ooh, I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all"
This much is obvious. He doesn't want to be killed, and indeed he wonders if it would have been better never to have been born in the first place.
A new voice starts singing; this voice represents his friends and family who are (or have been previously) protesting his execution.
"I see a little silhouetto of a man"
The narrator seems so poor and pitiful, "a shadow of what he once was", so to speak
"Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango"
Honestly, I don't know what this means
"Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright'ning me"
Both he and them are afraid that he'll be killed. The "lighting" part might indicate that he's to be killed with the electric chair, or it might just be symbolic.
"(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo, Galileo figaro"
Galileo was unfairly persecuted by the authorities of his time. Granted, Galileo didn't commit murder, but the narrator's advocates still draw a parallel, insisting that he doesn't deserve the punishment he's receiving.
"Magnifico. I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me"
The narrator repeats the common belief.
"He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity"
His friends and family argue that, because he's a poor boy, he deserves sympathy and compassion, not death.
"Easy come, easy go, will you let me go"
Here the narrator pleads for his life. He basically says "You don't seem to care about me; I'm 'easy come, easy go'. You don't really care if I live or die. So, if you don't really care whether I live or die, can't you just let me live? Can't you grant me a pardon or something?"
Then the opposite group, the friends and family of the dead man (and/or the execution authorities) respond to these pleas.
"Bismillah! No, we will not let you go"
The other group wants the narrator to be executed.
"(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."
The two groups have a spirited argument.
"(Oh mama mia, mama mia.) Mama mia, let me go"
Here the chorus of friends and family says "let me go", but I really think they mean "let him go. Don't kill the narrator"
"Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me"
Beelzebub means Satan. The narrator feels (or speculates) that Satan is out to torment him by leading him to such a sad fate. After all, it was probably a devil that tempted him to commit murder in the first place. Likewise, his family feels Satan is tormenting them as well, by killing the narrator to make them feel sad. Perhaps even the dead man's family joins in on this chorus; they feel that it was Satan who told the narrator to commit murder in the first place, and now they insist that execution is the only holy response to such a sin.
Throughout this, the narrator has been lethargic and morose. But right before the end, he has a sudden burst of passion.
"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!"
I'm not sure if he's talking to anyone specific here, or if he's just ranting with passion, screaming at everyone and everything involved.
As I imagine it, the narrator throws off his guards and fights to escape from his shackles. In the ensuing musical piece, he struggles with the executioners, knocking the room into disarray. The two families watch closely, but everyone knows it's a useless struggle; there's simply no way for the narrator to escape. And the end of the musical piece, he is beaten down and finally subdued. Once again he become morose and dispirited, and the executioners drag him to his place of death (electric chair, perhaps). In his last few moments before death, the narrator resumes his previous state of mind.
"Nothing really matters, Anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me"
Again, because he's about to die, nothing really matters to him. He has no purpose, no hope, nothing.
"Any way the wind blows..."
This is an allusion to the begining of the song, where this image was used along with "nothing really matters"
So...yeah. I think that's a pretty thorough interpretation. Bohemian Rhapsody is about a remorseful murderer as he's about to be executed.
Questions? Comments? Did anybody even read all that?
anonymous May 5th, 2019 5:42pm report
I think Freddie Mercury wrote Bohemian Rhapsody as his coming out song. As in the song he says, "No escape from reality" The reality is who he actually is. In another line Freddie then sings, "Mama, just killed a man. Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he's dead." I believe this is Freddie saying he is now killing off the man he once was or at least trying to be. He understands his families beliefs, so he goes onto sing, "Mama, 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." This is also showing that he has accepted who he is and it doesn't matter to him. But, it goes back down to more self doubt like things such as heaven and hell. "Mama, I don't want to die. I sometime I wish I'd never been born at all." and "Beelzebub has the Devil put aside for me." Finally we're to the point where Freddie stops with self doubt to the line, "So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?" Up until the final point of the song, "Nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters. Nothing really matters to me."
anonymous Dec 27th, 2005 12:11pm report
The song is about of course about murder, and the consequences of your actions. I think Freddie used the five stages of grief for the verses 1. Denial/ Isolation "goodbye everybody-I've got to go" 2. Depression "sometimes wish I'd never been born at all" 3. Bargaining "I'm just a poor boy.. will you let me go?" 4. Anger "so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye.. just gotta get right out of here. and 5. Acceptance "any way the wind blows"
anonymous Feb 8th, 2:49pm report
Put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger, now he’s dead”
I believe he is confessing not only that he is gay and has aids, but that he has infected someone and that they have died from it.
anonymous Jan 5th, 1:57pm report
Yep. It's Freddy's coming out 'hidden' confession. Some members of the band & a close friend of Fred who, I think was the producer(not absolutely sure) stated this the case. Fred as much as admitted it to his friend, but kept quiet around everyone else. It was very private to him & even the band members didn't talk about it or ask any questions. The lyric "pulled my trigger now he's dead" is Freddy's admission to killing his old self.
anonymous Dec 11th, 12:55am report
It’s a great interpretation of queen’s bohemian rhapsody... which I believe is a song about fame and different ways to become famous “is this the real life or is this just fantasy caught in a landslide no escape from reality “ a lot of people long to become famous, then once they are famous they realize it’s nothing like they imagined. “Open your eyes look up to the skies and see I’m just a poor boy , I need no sympathy “ the boy is praying to become famous . “Easy come easy go .....nothing really matters “ poor people come and go but rich people is all that matters “any way the wind blows “ whatever path you may take . “Mama just killed a man” a man was a famous killer ... and in the “easy come, easy go , will you let me go bismillah no “ that is him trying to get his soul back from the devil ...
anonymous Nov 24th, 11:16am report
I feel as he's questioning in the beginning, "real life or fantasy" as though he's about to tell a story.
Also by saying "no escape from reality" "open your eyes" "look to the sky" is a msg of awakening from the matrix. Lol I'm sure I sound crazy :D
anonymous Oct 3rd, 10:39pm report
The narrator,while walking to the place he will commit a murder for someone else is questioning his reality and rethinking his actions in the Intro.In the end he murders the man.
Then,he sadly confesses to his mother about the deed and tells her to not feel sad.In the next part,he is executed after saying goodbye to his family and friends.
The rival fractions in Hell fight over the narrator soul to claim it either to let him go or to torment it.
He then breaks out of Hell after learning about the betrayal he suffered and then breaks out of the prison.
He then takes his revenge on the one he killed the man for and then chooses to leave it all behind and do something good with his life as “Nothing Really Matters”.
I hope you read all of it,it the most probable I think so and it fits the tune and the guitar solo perfectly.
Thanks for reading
anonymous Aug 27th, 2019 8:48am report
I think he killed the person he really loved because he could not handle it, see also Crazy little thing called love.
A long road followed, at the end he surrenders and is ready voor the real love.
anonymous Jul 20th, 2019 7:10pm report
I have listened to some Queen songs throughout my twelve years of life so far. And this song is one of those songs that gets connected to your head, and you can't stop muttering the lyrics or stop listening to it with the world. These lyrics are menacing, heart-breaking, and powerful, like Rush's "Nobody's Hero" and My Chemical Romance's "The Sharpest Lives". It just.....is powerful enough to look into the lyrics like Sherlock Holmes. So I will look into the lyrics like "Miss Junior Detective"....
So the whole intro verse before the-real-time lyrics is about that the young man is looking upon the people outside of his-stuck-up prison life. He hates it, and just stares out his prisoned-barred "window", wild-jumbled thoughts whirling around his head. But then he "opens his eyes" as has to think about reality: why he is in prison, why he did what he did (murder), and what he became. But then he just doesn't care about anything anymore. (Why, dude. :p.)
NOW THE REAL LYRICS!!!:
The first verse is probably about him writing a letter to his mother, explaining his crime (but why did he do it? Self defense? Or just being psycho? Nobody really knows....)
When the main character says or sings (blah :p.), "Mama, life had just begun", I think he is referring to the life he is living in prison ("new life").
Then he sings, "But now I've gone, and thrown it all away", (Remember, I am just a kid, so no judgy!) is that he has "thrown" the life he had before he killed that man, and that he has now "gone" to the new life he will now live.
Also, when I heard this song in the car with my sister and my great-aunt, I thought this song was about this guy dying in a deathbed, and he was telling his mama things. (I only knew "Mama OOOOH! Didn't mean to make you...." So now that I have looked into the lyrics more, I guess I was wrong :p.)
Now second verse!
Again, dude is writing letter to mommy, blah blah blah, but he is probably knowing that his mama is weeping uncontrollably, and he "didn't mean for her to cry".
"And if I am not back tomorrow..." Oof. Getting busted and getting death sentence! NOOOOOOO!
Then he wants her to "Carry on" (Why is every rock band have to have "carry on" in it? I hear it in like every My Chemical Romance song :P.), so she will live her life as a grandma or something. And then again, he doesn't care about anything.
"Too late, my time has come..." Oh. My. Gawd.! Heartbreaking lyrics! *SNIFF*!
Okay, so I think he is writing a reply to her, and she wanted to come visit, but she is an old woman, so she couldn't really go. (Why choose at the last minute, woman?! He's gonna get executed!) And this is the day before his execution! NOOOOO! Poor boi! *SNIFFLE SNIFF*.
And he is "saying goodbye" to all the people by praying (Maybe?????).
Now, the guy is all jittery, and his body can't stop aching, and air sends shivering feels down his spine. (Probably you're also jittery because you were hunching over a letter, HMMM?!)
"Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth..." He needs to face the truth. I don't know if you like answer questions before getting executed, soooooooo....I'll just say he is getting questioned by the Pistachio police.
Last Verse!!!! *SNIIIIIIIIIIFFFF*:
"Mama OOOOOH! I don't wanna die!" Oof. Heartbreaking, dude....Super heartbreaking..... (Everyone dies, but I guess this is hard for you because you're gonna get your head chopped off or something. #KidLogicPower....)
Now time for your wishings, dudey dude. "Sometimes I wish I was never born at all!!!!"
Oh. Snap. We have something in common! I wish I was a different person! High five, dead guy! *High fives tombstone*
Now the amazing guitar solo by Ray Toro and Frank Iero!!!!! (LOL. "My Chemical Romance Teams Up With Queen".....But My Chemical Romance is from 2000! DOY! And Queen is from 1970! YEET!)
Okay, sorry for all the jokes. But kids are stupid and weird, okey doki?
That's my theory!
anonymous Apr 22nd, 2019 4:02pm report
I always thought of Bohemian Rhapsody as an interesting mish~mash of lyrics and musical effects until my nephew died from AIDS~~when the lyrics became crystal clear to me.
He is preparing his mom for what's to come. First, he tells her that he's knowing passed a death sentence on to another man my "pulling his trigger". Then he tells her that he must also go, but she shouldn't cry. She must go forward with her life when he is no longer there. From that point the lyrics deal with the way he'd always viewed himself and how he'd been treated by others who didn't think much of him~as a poor boy who no one loved. The lyrics then become more ethereal when they move to Beelzebub and Hell. I think he was feeling that Hell is where it all ends for the unfortunate men who contacted AIDS.
Even though Freddy didn't have the disease when he wrote B. R., AIDS was already an "unknown" known frightening killer illness taking out a multitude of unassuming men...just my thoughts.
anonymous Mar 22nd, 2019 3:56am report
I really liked this song and I think your perception of it is your truth. I think only Freddie knows what it meant to him. My truth is it was a struggle with changes is a persons life, maybe Freddie's maybe not. I just listen and enjoy while regretting the loss of a human life.
anonymous Feb 23rd, 2019 2:31am report
In 2019 the meaning of the song should be more obvious than it has been in the past. The song is about the transition of life from common man to rock star. It is about leaving a simple life to celebrity life, and maybe even selling out to get there. It is about sacrificing your past (in this case Freddie Mercury's past,) for fame and fortune. My interpretation follows:
"Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?"
Freddie can't believe he's famous.
"Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality."
His talents are both a gift and a curse.
"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,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me."
Mercury is humbled and conforms to the music industry.
"Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead."
This is metaphorically speaking -the man that Mercury killed is himself. He killed the person his family and friends all knew, and traded it for fame and fortune.
"Mama, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away."
He's still young and realizes he can never go back to the simple life he had before.
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."
Basically, he won't be visiting for Sunday night dinner whenever he wants to.
"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."
The truth is, he is now the front man for an elite rock band and is obligated to write music, record music, to perform concerts and to tour the world. His schedule is structured entirely by his producers. They have 100% control of his calendar, and he has virtually no control.
"Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don't wanna die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all."
He misses his old life and knows he can't just leave his obligations or he likely will face consequences of some type -possibly even death.
"I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"
Scaramouche means cowardly buffoon. Fandango is a spanish dance. So he realizes he is here for everyone's entertainment. He doesn't feel respected by those who financed him. He feels small.
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
Thunderbolt and lightning could represent the devil. The lightning bolt does in fact represent Satan. This symbolizes the debt that is owed. Galileo might signify the alignment of the stars or what is, or what is to become. It is reality.
"I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity."
Presents the idea of asking to quit from the industry look absurd.
"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 let you go (Never, never, never, never let me go)
Oh oh oh oh
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."
Bismillah means in Islam "In the name of God." Beelzebub is the devil or a demon.
"So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?"
Stone me with pot and spit in my eye hoping for ignorance.
"So you think you can love me and leave me to die?"
Mercury realizes he's not loved by the industry.
"Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here."
He wants out of the music industry whether there's a way out or not.
(Ooooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah)
"Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me."
He realizes there's no way out so he decides to give up all hope, and conforms.
"Any way the wind blows."
He's completely at their mercy and is now content with anything.
SnakeSpirit Jan 24th, 2019 1:58pm report
Just one line that always bugged me:
"Mama, just killed a man, Put _a_ gun against his head
Pulled _my_ trigger, now he's dead"
"A" gun. Not my gun. Any random gun?
Or a proscribed gun?
"My" trigger. His trigger. His decision.
Confirming ownership of the 'trigger' but not the gun.
The gun represents an external force (society?).
The trigger is his choice to 'kill' "a man." (Himself?)
anonymous Jan 5th, 2019 1:04pm report
It is a compilation of different songs that Freddie and other band members had been working on. They needed to record something and Freddie pulled all this together. He had it all laid out including the dubbing.
Therefore the meaning is multi-layed. To me, it is clear that "I killed a man" is Freddie deciding to come out to his family and friends as a gay man. The death of the man is the heterosexual man whom he had pretended to be all his life but could no longer be.
He knows this is breaking his mom's heart and she will not understand and may even be that now he is dead to her. Sadly many people disown their children who they come out.
As someone who has come out to his very religious family and got disowned, I can understand "But now I've gone and thrown it all away." After all, this is what many families think their gay child is doing. My brother used these exact words to me.
But especially telling is
"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."
And then his statement that he knows he is losing them by telling them this truth,
"Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go, Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth."
anonymous Dec 26th, 2018 12:53pm report
I think Bohemian Rhapsody is about Freddie's life. In the song it could go from really dark to really confident. His life had highs and lows, and so does the song. This might not be true, but this is what I think.
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