Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen, a still from the Bohemian Rhapsody videoThe late, great Freddie Mercury wrote the Bohemian Rhapsody and recorded it with his band, Queen in 1975.

I will no doubt write a popandcrisps post for Queen, but this song requires its own post, given the profound influence it had on me and thousands of others from the Seventies to the modern day.

I still sing it now, and have had particular lyrics spinning around my head while at work lately, which prompted me to write this. ‘Goodbye everybody’ is one, and another is, ‘Just got to get right out of here.’ But enough of me and my godawful job! I think that one of the reasons it was so popular then and has remained so to this day is due to these lyrics tapping into the heart of the disaffected psyche.

Although, according to Wikipedia, Freddie wrote these lyrics as random phrases that fitted in with the music, others have interpreted deep psychological, spiritual and philosophical significance. The singer is a condemned murderer who has an epiphany prior to his execution, or he is having a drug-induced hallucinogenic nightmare and is plagued by devils.

When I was growing up, a bohemian was someone who preferred art over material wealth, who lived an alternative lifestyle, especially in terms of their sexual relationships, who maybe was from a rich background but preferred to live in poverty and squalor, perhaps due to political ideals. I always wanted to be a bohemian, and I suppose some people might say I am, though you don’t hear the word so much these days. It’s insulting or patronising to be called bohemian now, as if it’s somehow quaint. It’s comparable to ‘hippy’.

The term originally derived from the name for people from Bohemia, the area which is now the Czech Republic, in the mistaken belief that the poor travelling people in Europe were from this area. I never really understood what is bohemian about the song other than it being very alternative.

It was so alternative that it was predicted to be a complete flop. But like all good alternatives, the song quickly gained cult status and has ploughed its own furrow in the history of music. I have an idea to write a novel based on the story in the song, but I’m sure that there would be copyright issues here, plus I’ve got plenty of other novels to be getting on with. But this is one of those backburner thoughts.

I memorised the song, including the guitar solo, when I was at the age where memorising songs was important. Still now, if one of my sisters starts to sing it, we will all join in to the joyful crescendo and headbanging finish.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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One Response

  1. Hey. I was 3 when Bohemian Rhapsody came out, the video still gives me the chills. Check out my related post: http://thespiralscratch.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/hello-world/

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