The Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics by Queen
(scroll down to listen to the song on video)
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,
Little high, little low,
Anyway the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.
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.
Too late, my time has come,
Sent 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 wanna 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.
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.
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 let you go
Never let me go, 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.
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.
(Oh, yeah, oh yeah)
Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.
Anyway the wind blows.
Enjoy the Bohemian Raphsody Lyrics by Queen on Video
Background to Bohemian Rhaphsody Lyrics and Composition
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera. The song consists of several sections: a ballad segment ending with a guitar solo, an operatic passage, and a hard rock section. At the time, it was the most expensive single ever made and it remains one of the most elaborate recordings in popular music history.
When it was released as a single, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976. It reached number one again in 1991 for five weeks following Mercury’s death, eventually becoming the UK’s third best-selling single of all time. It topped the charts in several other markets as well, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and The Netherlands, later becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. In the United States the song originally peaked at number nine in 1976. It returned to the chart at number two in 1992 following its appearance in the film Wayne’s World which revived its American popularity.
Although critical reaction was initially mixed, “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains one of Queen’s most popular songs. The single was accompanied by a promotional video, which many scholars consider ground-breaking. In 2004, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2012, the song topped the list on an ITV nationwide poll in the UK to find “The Nation’s Favourite Number One” over 60 years of music.
Analysis of Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics
The song consists of six sections: introduction, ballad, guitar solo, opera, hard rock and finale. This format, with abrupt changes in style, tone and tempo, was unusual to rock music. An embryonic version of this style had already been utilised by the band in “My Fairy King” and “The March of the Black Queen”.
The song begins with a close five-part harmony a cappella introduction in B?—entirely multi track recordings of Mercury although the video has all four members lip-synching this part. The lyrics question whether life is “real” or “just fantasy caught in a landslide” before concluding that there can be “no escape from reality.”
After 14 seconds, the grand piano enters, and Mercury’s voice alternates with the other vocal parts. The narrator introduces himself as “just a poor boy” but declares that he “needs no sympathy” because he is “easy come, easy go” and then “little high, little low” (if listening in stereo, the words “little high” come from the left speaker whereas the “little low” comes from the right); chromatic side-slipping on “easy come, easy go” highlights the dream-like atmosphere. The end of this section is marked by the bass entrance and the familiar cross-handed piano vamp in B.
The piano begins the familiar vamp in B major along with the entrance of Deacon’s bass guitar, marking the onset of this section. After it plays twice, Mercury’s vocals enter. Over the course of the section, the vocals evolve from a softly sung harmony to an impassioned solo performance by Mercury. The narrator explains to his mother that he has “just killed a man,” with “a gun against his head” and in doing so, has thrown his life away. This “confessional” section, Whiteley comments, is “affirmative of the nurturant and life-giving force of the feminine and the need for absolution.” The chromatic bass line brings about a modulation to E major, underpinning the mood of desperation. It is at this point (1:19) that Taylor’s drums enter (this features the 1-1-2 rhythm of “We Will Rock You” in ballad form), and the narrator makes the second of several invocations to his “mama” in the new key, reusing the original theme. The narrator explains his regret over “mak[ing] you cry” and urging mama to “carry on as if nothing really matters” to him. A brief, descending variation of the piano vamp phrase connects to a two repeat of the vamp in B? major once again, ushering in the second verse.
As the ballad proceeds into its second verse, the narrator shows how tired and beaten down he is by his actions (as May enters on guitar and mimics the upper range of the piano at 1:50). May imitates a bell tree during the line “sends shivers down my spine”, by playing the strings of his guitar on the other side of the bridge. The narrator bids the world goodbye announcing he has got to go and prepares to “face the truth” admitting “I don’t want to die / I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.” This is where the guitar solo enters.
Guitar solo (2:35–3:03)
As Mercury sings the rising line “I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all”, the band builds in intensity, leading up to a guitar solo (in B? major) played and composed by May that serves as the bridge from ballad to opera. The intensity continues to build, but once the bass line completes its descent establishing modulation to the new key (A major), the entire band cuts out abruptly at 3:03 except for quiet, staccato A major quaver (eighth-note) chords on the piano, marking the start of the “Opera” section.
A rapid series of rhythmic and harmonic changes introduces a pseudo-operatic midsection, which contains the bulk of the elaborate vocal multi-tracking, depicting the narrator’s descent into hell. While the underlying pulse of the song is maintained, the dynamics vary greatly from bar to bar, from only Mercury’s voice accompanied by a piano, to a multi-voice choir supported by drums, bass, piano and timpani. The choir effect was created by having May, Mercury, and Taylor sing their vocal parts continually for ten to twelve hours a day, resulting in 180 separate overdubs. These overdubs were then combined into successive submixes. According to Roger Taylor, the voices of May, Mercury and himself combined created a wide vocal range: “Brian could get down quite low, Freddie had a powerful voice through the middle, and I was good at the high stuff.” The band wanted to create “a wall of sound, that starts down and goes all the way up.” The band used the bell effect for lyrics “Magnifico” and “Let me go”. Also, on “Let him go”, Taylor singing the top section carries his note on further after the rest of the “choir” have stopped singing.
Lyrical references in this passage include Scaramouche, the fandango, Galileo Galilei, Figaro and Bismillah, as rival factions fight over the narrator’s soul. Peraino calls the sequence both a “comic courtroom trial and a rite of passage … one chorus prosecutes, another defends, while the hero presents himself as meek though wily.” The song’s introduction is recalled with the chromatic side-slipping on “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.” The section concludes with a full choral treatment of the lyric “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me!”, on a block B major chord. Roger Taylor tops the final chord with a falsetto B in the fifth octave.
Using the 24-track technology available at the time, the “opera” section took about three weeks to finish. Producer Roy Thomas Baker said “Every time Freddie came up with another ‘Galileo’, I would add another piece of tape to the reel.” Baker recalls that they kept wearing out the tape, which meant having to do transfers.
Hard rock (4:07–4:56)
The operatic section leads into an aggressive hard rock/heavy metal musical interlude with a guitar riff written by Mercury. At 4:15, a double-tracked Mercury sings angry lyrics addressed to an unspecified “you”, accusing them of betrayal and abuse and insisting “can’t do this to me, baby” – which could be interpreted as a flashback to certain events that led to the earlier ballad section (“just killed a man”). Three ascending guitar runs follow. Mercury then plays a similar B run on the piano, as the song builds up to the finale with a ritardando.
After May plays ascending octaves of notes from the B? mixolydian mode (composed of the notes from the E? scale), the song then returns to the tempo and form of the introduction, initially in E? Major, before quickly modulating to C minor, only to soon go through an abrupt short series of modulations, bringing it back to C minor again in time for the final “nothing really matters” section. A guitar accompanies the chorus “ooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah.” A double-tracked twin guitar melody is played through an amplifier designed by John Deacon, affectionately nicknamed the “Deacy Amp”. Mercury’s line “Nothing really matters…” appears again, “cradled by light piano arpeggios suggesting both resignation (minor tonalities) and a new sense of freedom in the wide vocal span.” After the line “nothing really matters” is repeated multiple times, the song finally concludes in the key of E? major, but then changes again to F major just before it ends. According to music scholar Judith Peraino, this final section adds “a level of complex resistance to the song’s already charming subversion of macho rock and roll.” This resistance is achieved through the “bohemian stance toward identity, which involves a necessarily changeable self-definition (“Any way the wind blows”).” The final line, “Any way the wind blows”, is followed by the quiet sound of a large tam-tam that finally expels the tension built up throughout the song.