【明報專訊】Bohemian Rhapsody, released by Queen in 1975, is an immortal hit, which has remained "mysterious". The story of this great song is indeed intriguing.
The concept of this signature hit of Queen was brewed several years before Freddie Mercury finished writing the song. While Mercury, the legendary rocker, and his bandmates were thrilled having recorded the six-minute operatic rock hit, Queen's record company management was not impressed. Even Elton John couldn't help questioning John Reid, the manager, "Are you mad? You'll never get that on the radio!"
The band refused to cut it down. Luck came when DJ Kenny Everett played it on the radio. Almost instantly, Bohemian Rhapsody stunned the whole pop music world. It reached and stayed number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks, and topped the charts internationally.
The great hit has also aroused interest as to what Freddie Mercury wanted to tell music fans. Speculations include Mercury's revelation of his bisexuality. Another camp explain the song by likening the lyrics to a novel written by Albert Camus, unfolding the emotions of a young murderer. Freddie Mercury, together with his bandmates, dismissed all guesses, urging that music fans "should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them."
The song does reflect Mercury's life and his credits with his bandmates, however. We can also simply "listen and think", as Mercury suggested.
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
A 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
Mama, ooh, 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
Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body's aching all the time
Goodbye everybody ...
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooh ... I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all
I see a little silhouette of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me, Galileo, ...
But I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity ...
Bismillah, no we will not let you go, let him go ...
Beelzebub has a devil put aside 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 ...
1. Find a word from paragraph 4 which can replace the word underlined:
Freddie's disclosure of his homosexuality resulted in the cancellation of his wedding with Mary.
2. Refer to the lyrics. The song about the struggle of the murderer's confession and fear of death might reflect...
A) the conflicts between Freddie and his bandmates/
B) the conflicts between Queen and the record company
C) Freddie's inner struggle of being gay and having been in love with Mary Austin.
3. "I'm just a poor boy ... easy come, easy go" probably suggests...
A) Freddie as a child was poor but was easy-going.
B) Freddie had a rough past but he didn't need sympathy.
C) Freddie advised poor people to take life easy.
■by Venny Lai, a former Language Instructor at the PolyU and an experienced teacher of English Language and Literature