Story of Song
According to the band members of “Queen”, this classic single is one of Mercury’s great mysteries; only he knew truly how it would come together. There’s a possibility that Freddie could have been working on this song many years earlier. Chris Smith, the keyboard player in Mercury’s first band “Smile”, claimed that Freddie would play several piano compositions at rehearsals, including one called “The Cowboy Song,” which started with the line, “mama, just killed a man.” Kenny Everett, a London DJ, once asked Freddie Mercury about the song, Freddie 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.” Freddie continued, claiming that the lyrics were nothing more than “random rhyming nonsense.”
Could “random Rhyming nonsense” claim the number 1 spot on the charts in 6 different countries including the UK? Some critics even consider it one of the greatest records ever made!
In 1986, Freddie was asked in an interview with Lesley-Ann Jones, author of the biography Mercury, if ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was about him coming out as gay, he didn’t give a straight answer, and he was always very vague about the song’s meaning, admitting only that it was about “relationships.” Mercury’s family religion was “Zoroastrianism”, which doesn’t accept homosexuality. It is possible that Freddie made efforts to conceal his homosexuality because he didn’t want to offend his family. Jones says she spent time with his lover, Jim Hutton, after Freddie’s death, and he told her that the song was, in fact, Mercury’s confession that he was gay. Mercury’s good friend Tim Rice agreed, and offered some lyrical analysis to support the theory: “Mama, I just killed a man” meaning: He’s killed the old Freddie he was. “Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he’s dead” meaning: the old straight Freddie is dead. He’s destroyed the man he was trying to be, and now this is him, trying to live with the new Freddie.
“I see a little silhouetto of a man” – That’s him, still being haunted by what he’s done and what he is.
In an interview with Brian May on the Queen Videos Greatest Hits DVD, Brian said: “What is Bohemian Rhapsody about, well I don’t think we’ll ever know and if I knew I probably wouldn’t want to tell you anyway, because I certainly don’t tell people what my songs are about. I find that it destroys them in a way because the great thing about a great song is that you relate it to your own personal experiences in your own life. I think that Freddie was certainly battling with problems in his personal life, which he might have decided to put into the song himself. He was certainly looking at re-creating himself. But I don’t think at that point in time it was the best thing to do so he actually decided to do it later. I think it’s best to leave it with a question mark in the air.”
However, a simple interpretation of the song is about a boy pleading in front of an unsympathetic religious group after murdering a man. The word ‘Bismillah’ means (In the name of Allah) and it’s the first word of every chapter of Al-Quran. A small voice in the group shows a little sympathy every now and then: “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family; Spare him his life from this monstrosity.”
Released on October 31, 1975
EMI – Elektra – Parlophone – Hollywood
US – 9
UK – 1
GERMANY – 7
This great record topped the chart in the UK. Kenny Everett, Freddie’s friend, played it on his Capital Radio broadcast before the song was released (courtesy of a copy Mercury gave him). It also peaked at number 1 in the Australia, Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, and New Zealand. The song was certified 4 times platinum in the UK and the US with combined digital sales of over 6.2 million copies. After Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991, “Bohemian Rhapsody” re-entered the charts in the UK reaching number 1 twice. In the US, after its appearance in the movie Wayne’s World, it entered the charts again reaching number 2 and lasted in the charts for 17 weeks.
Artist’s age on release date
The band Queen was had been active for 5 years when they released ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.