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What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen


I love the song Bohemian Rhapsody, and sing it out loud with glee every time I go backpacking (in the woods, no one can hear you sing). But, I have to admit: I don’t understand a lot of the bizarre words in the song. With the new film about Queen, fittingly titled Bohemian Rhapsody, I decided to use the interwebz for a long look at the meaning of this iconic song.

According to the Wikipedia, Bohemian Rhapsody was written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera. It’s a six-minute suite, consisting of several sections without a chorus: an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part, and a reflective coda.

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Somehow, this random assortment of music genres works brilliantly. But what’s the story about?

Take this quiz to find out which queen member you are.

Let’s start with the obvious aspects: a young man killed someone, and he’s apparently about to pay for it with death. That’s plain. He’s telling his mother goodbye, and feeling like the devil is waiting for him. (Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me…for me…FOR MEEEEEE!!!)

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  • Right then. We’ll start here. Who exactly is Beelzebub? It’s something to do with the devil, sure, but what’s the exact story?

Here’s what has to say:

Old English Belzebub, Philistine god worshipped at Ekron (2 Kings i:2), from Latin, used in Vulgate for New Testament Greek beelzeboub, from Hebrew ba’al-z’bub “lord of the flies,” from ba’al “lord” + z’bhubh “fly.”

Apparently Freddy Mercury is using this name to signify Lucifer himself, or his demonic equivalent.

  • How about Scaramouch? (Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the fandango?)

SongFacts says the word “Scaramouch” means “A stock character that appears as a boastful coward.”

The Wikipedia goes on to say a bit more: Scaramouche (from Italian scaramuccia, literally “little skirmisher”), also known as scaramouch, is a stock clown character of the commedia dell’arte (comic theatrical arts of Italian literature).

  • The Fandango is not just an online movie ticket outlet. The meaning here is that Fandango is a fast Spanish dance. In the song, it’s probably referring to “the hemp fandango,” a delightfully ghastly euphemism for being hanged.
  • Next, what’s with Galileo? Does this refer the the early astronomer?  Or is a Galileo Figaro Magnifico something else entirely?

The best explanation I’ve seen is in this music forum, by a poster called, fittingly, Galileo:

“I’ve read somewhere that the line ‘Gallileo figaro magnifico’ in the middle of the ‘operatic’ section of the song, actually, is a slightly corrupted Latin phrase, ‘Galileo figuro magnifico’, translated as ‘Magnify the Galilean’s image’.

“It’s a key phrase, which reveals the entire meaning of the song, and usually it isn’t translated by the researchers.

“In fact, Galileo was the name of Jesus Christ in the ancient Rome. In other words, the only way to get out of the demonic nightmare of the song is to magnify Jesus Christ and ask Him for help. But the boy can’t believe that God is concerned about him, and refuses the salvation (‘Nobody loves me’).

“But why Galileo is repeated five times? In The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini the crowd calls to the town barber five times: Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! So it’s not difficult to see the analogy.

“Plus, as everybody knows, Galileo is the name of the an Italian physicist and astronomer, who made in the early 17th century the first telescopic observations of the planet Mercury... [emphasis mine]

“If this is true, what kind of GENIUS Freddie was?”

  • Bismillah….okay: the Wikipedia reports that this is a phrase in Arabic meaning “In the name of God”, and is the first word in the Qur’an,  referring to the Qur’an’s opening phrase (named the basmala).

Let’s back up a little bit and see the entire picture Mercury was trying to evoke.

Quora says this about the song’s title:

It is called “Bohemian Rhapsody” because it depicts the life of a ‘bohemian‘, whose original meaning is ‘artist’ while ‘Rhapsody‘ is a fantasy (literally, it could play in his head) or a vision; within this song Freddie Mercury foresees his life in a symbolic way.

Below are the lyrics for the operatic section of the song — the part that trips everyone up. You can look at it now and understand a little better what Mercury was going for. I think he used macabre themes from old plays and operas to cast an image that was delightfully off-kilter and evocative. He’s talking about death, mostly. Isn’t it strange that so…well…FUN a song is so wrapped up in death and killing? Perhaps in a weird way, Mercury is singing about himself and his own life through this narrative metaphor.

It’s possible that Mercury’s songs Somebody to Love and Under Pressure are also about his inner demons. I’m not the only one thinking along these lines.

Tim Rice, co-creator of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, as well as a collaborator of Mercury’s, once said, “It’s fairly obvious to me that [‘Bohemian Rhapsody’] was Freddie’s coming-out song.” (From Into.)

Making a bit more sense, now? 

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo Figaro – magnifico
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
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 – let me go
Never let me go ooo
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…

Entire Lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen at Live Aid

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen Will Rock You

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109 responses to “What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen”

  1. ThePlebLord Avatar

    wow you really did put a lot of effort and time to this did you i hope you earn money from this stuff

    1. Every word in the song BR is about HIV,DRUGS,being GAY freddie must have known what was in store for him-sad but anyone can see

      1. Eduardo, the Any Man Can See part is sad, if what you’re saying is true. Along with Nothing Really Matters.

  2. That’s a very kind comment and thank you. At this point, we are focusing on building up our blog content, and that’s no small feat with limited writing personnel.

    Our income comes solely from the RunPee app (telling you where to run to the loo during the movies, with what you missed, and any end credit details).

    1. Hi Jill o/
      I was only half awake when it came to me .. & perhaps it was a secret Freddy took to the grave with him, one that haunted him perhaps his whole life after one act of cruelty that he regretted perhaps to his deathbed, I feel the poem was a whisper of regret of his actions and about bereaving him of the happiness, his ability to feel alive, his grey death brought upon himself in one swift delicious moment of cruelty. He felt like the devils pawn, he felt unworthy of peoples love.
      Wowo.. when I was a teenager, I heard that he was actually jailed & assumed he composed the piece regarding his depressed state while incarcerated & wrote from the perspective of the actual killer blah blah blah, now I know there is so much more to the true reason and meaning of Bohemian Rhapsody.

      1. Hi Lee! Someone in the public eye like Freddie was had a lot of power and opportunity to commit evil deeds in the heat of the moment, and enough money to ‘bury’ the details. And sometimes people get away with it…but the secrets still eat them up alive.

        It’s a chilling theory and I hope untrue. It’s so much fun to sing along with the song, and I don’t want to think it might be something that darkly biographical.

        You have a nice touch in your worksmithing. I like your “grey death…in one swift delicious moment of cruelty.”

        1. Bohemian Rhapsody was done way earlier than when he had achieved great fame. Earilier than that he’d had success, but if you remember in the film (though that’s not 100 per cent the way it happened, changed to make the film transistion easier) the producer (played by Mike Meyers) gives them grief for wanting an overly long song for their single. Bohemian Rhapsody, though they’d had success before, was somewhat of a ‘breakout’ song. That producer wouldn’t have hassled the band if they’d had that pinnacle of success that freed them creatively, I’m guessing.

          1. So your guess of a “dark secret”, is just a guess.
            Back then just coming out was groundbreaking, and somewhat of a “dark secret”. To make Mr. Mercury out to be a possible killer, is a disservice to what the film shows to be a gentle genius with flaws. Who doesn’t have flaws?

          2. Sher, those are great insights, and yeah, who doesn’t have flaws? Can we still give and care about others, in in our own personal agony? Freddie, at least as shown in the movie, did. He suffered, but he kept on trying to create and to love.

  3. Your explanation was very convincing, but would another theory work?(That was an actual question) My theory, (I haven’t put nearly as much work into this as you have yours) is that Freddy, or the man that held the gun, actually killed himself. And when the choir was chanting ‘we will not let you go’ was when his life flashed before his eyes, and he saw all his deppressions.
    In this theory, I think that those voices were also regrets, and we all know the iconic ‘for me’ when a male’s voice gets incredibly high. I think that voice was a scream, but in song form.
    At the end, Mr Mercury goes on to the next life. In some cultures they believe that ghosts go with the wind. That makes sense for the ‘any way the wind blows’ at the end.
    It may also be the same at the begining when Mercury sings ‘any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me’ stating that that it doesn’t matter if he goes to heaven or hell.
    Most Christians believe that suicide is a sin, and people may go to hell for it.
    My theory has alot of ‘holes’ for I haven’t, like I said, done as much research as you. But, could there be a possibility that my theory was correct?
    If not, that’s okay, but nice explanation of the song!

    1. I always believed the “man” he killed was himself, but figuratively. Like, he killed the person he was pretending to be, or a person everyone thought he was. I feel like the rest of it (operatic part + rock part) was more of an internal dialogue depicting the battle between the “devil” and “angel” of his conscience. Idk, I may be way off base.

  4. Alice, I LOVE it! What a great theory, and it holds as much water as any other. In particular, I like the last For Meeeeeee, being a scream as he kills himself, and the “any way the wind blows” being about not caring if his soul moves on to heaven or hell. Brilliant thoughts.

    Nothing really matters…for meeeeee……

    It’s certainly a sad song when you stop and think about it, but it’s still so darn fun to sing along to!

  5. This is my take on the song.

    The first part of the song is abt committing suicide, the 2nd part of the song where the Galileo was sang was the dialog between him and satan. Try and go through the lyrics again with my theory if that make sense.

  6. This is why music is a beautiful part of art. I love different interpretations. Did you read Alice’s comment above? It’s a lot like hers. It’s all great stuff!

    Thank you for your insights!

    “any way the wind blows…”

  7. I believe Freddy Mercury was referring to himself when he said he killed a man. “Put a gun against his head , pulled my trigger now he’s dead. He needed to kill the “man” in order to be able to live his new life. He didn’t mean to make his mother cry and even sometimes wished he’d never been born at all. He obviously struggled to accept his homosexuality so symbolically he did kill a man.

    1. I believe you are correct Freddie was talking about basically coming out of the closet about homosexuality in those days it was not excepted like it is today. I believe he came to terms with his life that he faught so hard to keep hidden . I loved freddie mercury and his music will live forever.

  8. You guys make me so happy. I love all the interpretations of this magical ballad. You’re all smart people and I treasure every thoughtful comment.

    I wish we could ask Freddie himself.

    Your interpretation is very much in line with mine.

    Thank you again!

  9. remarkable human being, gifted with the energy of life and lyrics.
    Perhaps he was predicting his own demise due to Aids,
    Demetria Daniels

    1. Demetria, I hope not about his demise, as that’s incredibly sad. He seemed so full of lust for life, as you said.

      I love all these interpretations!

      I kind of want to think it’s just a fantasy song about a boy who killed a man and worries he’s about to go to hell, rather than it directly alluding to his own inner demons and fears. I love this song too much to want to cry not every time I hear it.

    2. I believe Bohemian Rhapsody was about Freddie’s coming to terms with his sexuality and the importance of his Zoroastrian faith colliding with his “sins”. In many cultures “sinful” lifestyles lead to shortened life spans. It almost like the story of Icarus in acient Greek. He flies to close to heavens and it will lead to tragedy. The song could also relate to his name change. His name was not Freddie or Mercury.

  10. In my opinion… The part “mama, I killed a man” refers to him killing his old self, the one that his family know. So…its him killing his “good and obedient” character… as he explore his sex preference, no more Farrokh Bulsara… There’s only Freddie Mercury with his guilts…

    I could really imagine the opera stage, lights, scene and all of it just by hearing this song… Epic

    1. Riri, that’s a different take on it for sure. And that works as well as any other. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy….that seems to be the big question. Is this a biographical song about himself (either literally or figuratively), a made up bit of operatic fun, or some combination of different elements?

      I wish we could ask him, or get the word from someone who knew him. Anyone friendly with Brian May? He’s in his 70s and might know. 😉

  11. Angelique Avatar

    In my opinion, the only person who would be able to answer (or at least to give some suggestions) our questions regarding the Bohemian Rhapsody song is Mary Austin. She really knew him, she saw him changing inside, she accepted this his change with love, she was there while he was writing the song. They fully trusted each other and loved each other till the end (here I mean the love feeling which goes much beyond any romantic relationship). But I think she will never do it, and I’d fully support her in this. I also think the Bohemian Rhapsody is an autobiographic song; by “killing the man” Freddie, to my mind, meant killing himself old to become a new person. For sure this transformation inside him was not at all easy. A great song, for all the times. Great Freddie, God bless him. A very bright, immensely talented and beautiful person who will always remain an enigma.

    1. Angelique Avatar

      Jill Florio, sorry, forgot to mention in my previous message. Thanks a lot for your research!!! I’ve read it with great interest. Many things in the song became more understandable for me… thanks!!!

    2. Angelique, I think you are right. Brian May reportedly would not comment on the meaning in this for Freddie. That is the right of an artist. But Mary Austin would have insights no one else could be privy to and loved him for who and what he was, with all her being.

      It seems almost like a Novel in song form. I’d like to think it’s more creative than biographical…but I am sure his own life bled into the work, regardless of intent.

  12. […] but his fans would not. [Now before you accuse me of being right wing, which I’m not, read for the meaning of the strange words in the lyrics. Another interesting tidbit, the band had […]

  13. Dorinda Ares Avatar
    Dorinda Ares

    Read ‘The Stranger,’ by Albert Camus… My thoughts on Freddie Mercury writing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody, is that Camus’ story Is a backdrop to this song and perhaps an allegory to his own life.

    1. Dorinda, tell me more about The Stranger. That sounds fascinating! I like allegory, even though it makes me sad that Freddie felt his life was resting on the edge of a knife. How freaking sad. So creative and full of life he was…but I guess also so depressed and lost.

      So what is The Stranger? Novel? Essay? Treatise?

  14. My vision.
    A kind of a demonic pact giving him success in return of an early and painful death that he knew would take him.
    He’s talking about he’s own death and how he did it to himself and the possibility to be saved of this terrible destiny ” I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me” and then a kind of a lawer whos appears in other parts, tries to help him out “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family Spare him his life from this monstrosity”
    And how close to his own death was this? “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 Mama, oh oh I don’t want to die Sometimes wish I’d never been born at all”
    How to explain “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”
    I love him and I don’t want that freak opinion to be true

    1. Ollaya, great insights, and very epic in terms of storytelling. Which is why, I guess, the song is so beloved and enigmatic. Shivers. And I really doubt Freddie could predict his own demise, but perhaps he felt a connection to this narrative he created in his head.

      Hindsight makes this all the more painful, doesn’t it?

    2. Castor Pollux Avatar
      Castor Pollux

      In Fat Bottomed Girls, having mortgages on homes and “stiffness in my bones” (along with being a possible double entendre) was a way of saying the song’s speaker had grown older. Freddie was adept at writing points of view other than his own. Rather than describing his own body as “adding all the time,” it’s more likely he was imagining what someone walking out of a prison cell for the final time might feel.

      1. I like this. You’re right — Freddie was a creative soul who could put himself into other imaginative realities. And about the prison cell thing, that also makes sense.

        I don’t think he especially liked fat bottomed girls (he liked boys, and Mary), but he made a narrative, and it resonated. It’s a cool tune and showcases his versatility.

  15. I think the song is much a combination of your ideas (which I truly enjoyed reading FYI). My theory is that the song is about Freddie making a conscious decision to kill his old self and take on the persona Freddie Mercury. Due to his upbringing he knew that that it was sinful but is willing to accept the consequences of his action, knowing his mom will cry and so forth. The second half of the song is because he has been brought up to believe that he will have to answer for his decision and relizes the possibility that if hell is real, he will have to plead. He is frightened of this possibility. Then the song snaps back to the present as he is writing it. At this time he feels nothing really matters or at least the (consequences) and will deal with that when the time comes. As for that moment when he dies he is ready to go anywhere the wind blows, real or not .

  16. Freddie was the most sensitive and caring person in the world. As the 70’s became more and more difficult to deal with coming out and dealing with AIDS had to be the most trying error of the 20th century.
    Freddie took the world by the ——- and made history. His voice was as of an angel. He left behind many loved ones who cared and loved him more than anyone could know.
    Freddie you were the greatest. I listen to your songs word for word and have a great respect for you. I know you are singing in Heaven and you have all the angels learning from you. God Bless you. Bismillah!!!!!!

    1. Matteo – good points and thank you for the nice eulogy for Freddie. . And he really did sing like an angel. Queen is one of the most singular bands in our history. They’ve taken me out of some pretty dark places, and also lifted me to the heights.

  17. My try!
    Well I recently watched the movie and now I feel that I totally understand this masterpiece!
    I enjoyd your theory so much but let’s think about mine for a moment…
    (If you did not watch the movie and don’t like spoilers, please stop here.)
    When I watched his story I realized he first discovered his disease, talked to the doctor, then told the band he was sick already.
    Then it’s time for the African Aid concert…
    (Obs. Before that he visited his parents, and told his mother: “Watch the concert, I’ll send you a kiss” (Later I saw the original concert and he actually sent a kiss to the cam).)
    After all that, his ex manager made an interview and told everybody about Freddie’s affairs, romances and also told he had lots of men.
    Let’s go back to the concert
    He knew.
    I think that when he says: ” Just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger now he’s dead” he’s speaking about him and his choices, what his relations did. He was about to die!
    “Goodbye everybody I’ve got to go..”
    Does it not make sense?

    Now a quick study:

    “Is this the real life?
    Is this just fantasy? (>>> Is this really happening? Am I dying? <<>> I can’t escape from reality, from facing the truth: I’m gonna die very soon <<>> He used to drink a lot and also drugs were part of his life <<>> He killed himself <<>> He couldn’t feel alive, he was dying!!!! <<>> Queen was about to be famous! He was excited with his new life of opportunities, they were on radios, also went to the US for a tour! <<>> He screwed all up <<>> He could die anytime, he was weak, in pain… <<>> In other words: Be brave, mom! – He was her only son. <<>> Could not be symptoms caused by his disease? <<>> That I’m sick, dying <<>> !!! <<>> He was scared <<>> Now in this part I think he was talking about the place he believed he would go after life: <<>> Here he was just accepting his destiny. <<>> Well I don’t know if I’m right or wrong…is that that just felt so right you know? After watching the movie I understood him better. Even his long relation with Mary Austin.
    I never understood this music! And Freddie was so intelligent he wouldn’t put random words into a so important thing. He wrote it himself!
    I’m glad the recent experience with the movie opened my eyes and everytime I listen to Bohemian Rhapsody I feel the wheigt of Freddie’s pain, his sadness and his fear.

    1. Hi Becca. You put a lot of thought into your comments, and thank you! It could well be something along these lines, and might explain why Freddie was so determined to push his opus forward, with no cutting of the length, or compromising with the very unusual words.

      It also seemed like the whole band was solidly behind Freddie for this one, so probably knew exactly what the song meant to him. They didn’t agree on much, at least from we saw in the movie, but this one. It could have gone on to be a long, long b-side track, but we all knew what really happened.

      And how funny is it that Ray Foster, the album producer who turned the song down, was played by an unrecognizable Mike Meyers?

      … And if you’ve never seen Wayne’s World, watch the video we embedded in this article:

      1. Hey, sorry! Something went wrong with the structure of my comment when I sent it. Luckily you seemed to understand!
        As soon as I can I’ll come back and rewrite it. Lol And give you properly attention. Thanks!

      2. It would have been a bit more hilarious if he went by the given name Michael Meyers.

        1. Matteo, it works for me either way. 🙂

        2. You spelled Michael’s last name wrong. It is spelled Myers, not Meyers.

    2. Castor Pollux Avatar
      Castor Pollux

      The movie takes some liberties with the timeline. Freddie knew he’d been ill before the Live Aid concert, but he didn’t know with what. The AIDS diagnosis didn’t come until later. But that concert was legendary, and Queen’s performance in it was epic. Making that concert bookend the rest of the story was perfect cinematically, but would have left out that very important and tragic AIDS diagnosis had the filmmakers not moved it up.

      1. I think the movie made liberties to tell a good story. That’s not unusual. But , yeah, you’re right. #Truth

        I wonder how the Elton John movie will go. Since Elton is still alive and acting (he was recently in Kingman 2, as himself), then I would hope it’s true to real life.

        I’d love to see Elton’s Live Aid moment in #Rocketman.

  18. I just wanna say thank you for your effort. I’m a new generation Queen fan. I heard this song when I was in elementary. My used to play this song every morning. I thought it was weird at first but the more you listen to it the weirdness just grabs you. After I watched the movie, I felt like. Wow Queen is really a legendary group. Now I should search more things about Queen. They make me wanna live my best life. Just sharing bc I can’t get over their story.

    1. Alkenjie, it’s such a pleasure to talk to new generations of fans. Queen used to be my parents’ band – they had all the albums: YES ALBUMS, as in records, and I loved staring at the great art. To them, Queen was brand new music. I was alive during the Live Aid Concert and watched all these legendary bands join in to help save the world. It was massively uplifting.

      Thank you for sharing your story! I can’t get enough of Queen, way before this movie was even a thing. I even used their music for my 50th birthday to be the soundtrack for my skydiving jump.

      I recommend Don’t Stop Me Now, to get excited about great upcoming things in your life. Also, they play this song prominently in the awesome film Shaun of the Dead, and more recently in an episode of The Umbrella Academy.

      Actually, this list will give you all the best-loved songs:

  19. How lovely the analyses of the song it gives great insight and explanation en definition of words and phrases, thank you, I do feel you went s bit casual about the opening of the song.

    Personally I believe that the opening verse of the song is most important for what follows a metaphor for ‘killing off himself’ in a very mysterious dramatic and theatrical wat…saying goodbye to his old self and face the truth of his true of his inner demon in fact coming to terms with his true (sexual) identity around 1975.

    I love how everyone is elaborating on this unequivocal masterpiece

  20. I cannot edit my text not delete it I noticed
    I meant the second verse , to my it isn’t necessarily about a young man killing another but (metaphorically) killing himself. When he kills off his heterosexual self In pulled my trigger now he’s dead…He sing explicitly pulled MY trigger instead of pulled THE trigger he doesn’t take distance but owns it, since the saying ‘pull the trigger’ actually means making an decision …I’m puzzled maybe I’m reading too much into this

    1. Marcus, you can never read too much into art. Overthink as you wish – I believe that’s what art is for. Keep up the good insights!

  21. Patrick Galligan Avatar
    Patrick Galligan


    Nicolaus Copernicus was the first noted scientist who theorized that the Sun, and not the Earth, was at the center of our universe {i.e. our solar system}. He also held a church office in Bohemia with the duty of saving souls. Johannes Kepler, who lived in Bohemia, used mathematics to confirm the Copernican theory. Their work inspired Galileo to prove them right. He tried to justify the theory by comparing high and low tides, and winds, without success. He then improved the telescope and saw five moons orbiting Jupiter and not the earth, which conclusively proved the theory.

    This was heresy according the Catholic Church, and most everyone else, and Galileo was tried by the Inquisition. Freddie Mercury preferred to describe it as a murder trial for killing the man who stood at the center of the universe [i.e. on Earth], which Galileo did by showing he never existed. Freddie described the man as a “little silhouette of a Man” dancing like a clown [Scaramouche/fandango]. Galileo was convicted for telling the truth and sentenced to life in prison or death. But it didn’t matter to Galileo if he was condemned, or could only save himself by falsely swearing that he was wrong so help him God [i.e. to the Lord of the Flies, aka BiSmillah], or forced to live the remainder of his life under house arrest in obscurity. It didn’t matter because “anyone can see” he was right by simply “open[ing] your eyes and look[ing] up to the sky” through his gun shaped telescope.

    This was Galileo’s passion, his Bohemian Rhapsody, and although the Church tried to shut him up, Freddie Mercury sought to lend his voice and create his own “Magnifico” in honor of a great man who stood up against everyone who were living a fantasy about the relationship of mankind to the rest of the universe.

    1. This is a gorgeous interpretation of the song I guess we have to wait for a queen outing of the meaning of the song it’s particular left blank in the movie other than that it’s a poetic and the grave passion for the masterpiece

      1. Marcus, I think you are right and if we don’t have an swer by now, then no one is going to come forward with one. I like how you ended with being content with this: “a poetic and the grave passion for the masterpiece”.

    2. Patrick, I think I love you a little bit now. That’s just a beautiful and very different interpretation of the song. Color me impressed. Seriously, nice job!

      It could be that he based this on Galileo’s story, mixed in with his own passions and regrets.

      It’s kind of too brilliant a song to honestly be about nothing, and in the movie, the fact that ALL the band members were willing to walk out rather than shorten the song proves (IMO) the story was that important to them.

    3. Melinda Avatar

      That was a great summary of the historical events and a nice interpretation of the lyrics. Especially given that the other band member is an astrophysicist. But my view is that Galileo was wrong and the earth is flat or flat-ish and you can look up into the sky and see the sun move around the earth every day.
      I think that there may be duel meanings in here as Freddy used the life experiences of others and compared them to his own. He did change his name to Mercury after this song so that has to do eith planets.

      1. I do appreciate that Brian May is an astrophysicist and that, well, Mercury is a planet and is the musical name Freddie chose. And then there’s Galileo. So much here to add to the narrative, eh?

  22. I think Freddy was talking about himself. Also, in the movie is pretty CLEAR. He killed a man, yes, he killed Bulsara, entirely. In fact he also had is ID changed with the name Freddy Mercury. And his father was hostile with all this. So he wrote that, his father’s hostility, being unwanted, he also felt guilty for his family members in a way, (he says “mama”, not “papa”), AND, also he show that he doesn’t want to be stopped.

    I think artists always talk of theirselves (also in a cryptical way), and Freddy does it too.

    1. Dario, are you saying he is apologizing for killing ‘himself’ – his given name and previous personality, in exchange for a big bold and outrageous life? That’s interesting. If true, he only feels badly that he caused his mom pain and not his father.

      1. Melinda Avatar

        I agree with her interpretation. Freddie had a lot of religion. I think he hated his father’s religion. Freddie’s wound ( see line in other song :” mother mercury look what they’ve done to me” came from all the false religions he grew up under. He could never live up to his father’s expectations so he became a mommy’s boy and was always running to her. He is struggling with his homosexuality. He cheated on Mary with a man in 1974 so he feels he’s already pulled his trigger and thrown it all away. He weaves in stories of other famous people’s lives to tell his own story. He is desparate for Christ to save him from homosexuality and cries out 5 times “Galileo” .Five is the number of grace. David had 5 smooth stones. 5 fold ministry. 5 loaves of bread. etc. He doesn’t know God and doesn’t accept the salvation and accepts whatever comes. Then he goes to his oppressors Bismillah ( false religions) that want to stone him and asks to be let go but the false religions have a hold on him and won’t let him go. At the end he talks about being stoned and spit in his face – that’s punishment from the false religions. He wrote about being loved and left. That’s Mary. While she didn’t leave him physically, she loved him and left him empty. She didn’t have the love of Christ that he needed. He lost interest in Mary after he had her emotionally and physically because no human can fill that place that Jesus has set aside for himself. Men, like Freddie, are looking for a woman to fill that place and erase the insecurity but it can not be found at the foot of a woman. So after exhausting Mary, he cheats with a man. This is spitting in the eye of God that he rejected but he has turned it around because he was going to false gods. He felt they were spitting in his eye. He just gives up and cries the famous sick line ” poor me” The reason crying out to Jesus ( or Galileo ) didn’t work for Freddie is because he wanted it his way, he wanted his homosexuality fixed. He didn’t really want TRUTH. Jesus isn’t a Scaramouch. He’s not a cheap trick or a side hussle. You have to want TRUTH more than anything. You have to want TRUTH with every fiber of your being. Jesus must be your first love. Jesus knows when you are being real with Him.

        This is what rejecting the LOVE of Jesus Christ will do to a person. Freddie was describing his own man-made hell.
        BTW- Jim was never LOVE. He was Freddie’s MEDICINE.

        1. Melinda, that is an amazing interpretation, and it’s clear you’ve given this a great deal of thought. I never knew that about the number five…that’s all very cool. And yes, it seems clear that religion was a very big deal to Freddie and his parents. And that his love was named Mary is….well, interesting.

          I really appreciate how you’ve pulled this all together with Galileo, Scaramouch, Jim as ‘medicine’, and ultimately crying out to his mother for salvation. It’s a very sad story, but it’s also touched so many.

  23. Here are a few movie/lyric song combos from Queen. I’ll get through the filmography when I have time….so many movies used Queen to great effect: (inluding TWO songs in Shaun of the Dead)

    And the entire Highlander soundtrack. I’ll get to that one. What else did I miss?

  24. Bababooe Avatar

    I always feel its about reincarnation and reality is an illusion

    1. Bababooe – you may be on the nose, here, with your illusion comment, which no one mentioned yet. The very first lyric states the ‘ambiguity” straight out: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

      Now reincarnation…interesting. How do you think that could fit?

  25.  Avatar

    WHAT great theories. I read them all . I believe Freddie was really a genius,;
    musically gifted, intensely introspective, and kind. Wish he was still here.

    1. Anonymous, I SALUTE your endurance and persistence in reading 50 or so long and deeply thoughtful comments.

      He was a kind man, and also deeply troubled. The troubled part often leads to musical genius, as a way to transcendently channel pain, but the kindness was just him, shown by how Mary and crew stuck by him, and still do, even so long after his death.

      The genius, of course, is undisputed.

      I wish he could have seen his own movie. I’m glad Brian May and Co saw it, and I’m thrilled Elton John got *his* biopic while he is still alive to see our love for him and his works. And it’s coming out soon!!

    2. Yvette Delos Santos Avatar
      Yvette Delos Santos

      There was no one like Freddie. Iconic I love him to bits every time I listen Bohemian Rhapsody I want to listen more and more. Classic. And when Freddie sang it he was very passionate with the rest of the band for whatever the theory of this song it’s just simply the best.


      1. Yvette, so true. It doesn’t matter what the ‘real’ interpretation is. His passion was genuine and that’s what we all hear.

  26. Thanks for such a great post! and so many informative comments too.
    What a great man Freddie was… his lyrics has lead to so many interpretation but still he was the only one who knew what they actually mean…
    I just wanted to say something little about “Bismillah”. Sometimes Iranian use this word (although it’s not in their mother tongue but because most are Muslims it’s brought from Arabic) as a kind of stating a surprise event that can be an impossible one too.
    I think (and it’s probably not true) that in the operatic part of the song where someone is asking for mercy for the boy (and also the boy himself); the other says: Bismillah! We will not let you go (which means you’re asking for something impossible, his sin can’t be forgiven). It may sound a little weird otherwise (well, to me, at least)
    I didn’t do much research like you and everyone who comments above and this was just something that I wanted to share. Hope it was useful!

    1. Mel, thank you for your comments about Bismillah. It’s probably like most people saying “My God!”…which we don’t even think twice about when we do it.

      I wish we could ask Freddie. But if Brian May isn’t saying, then I guess we aren’t meant to know. And there is a certain beauty to that too.

  27. I’m thrilled to read your interpretation as I have been saying something similar for years (and through many arguments on the matter).
    I believe the intro is Freddie talking to his mother as a representation of everyone he loves, and telling her that he has killed off his former self to become who he really is. His biggest concern, of course, is that in doing so he has reverted to being small again and dealing with all of the difficulties of life over again. In that context the lyrics make perfect sense. If it doesn’t work out, that’s ok too – any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter.
    As far as the operatic part goes, it is the playing out of his internal struggle – the literal bad and good inside him and his struggle to be let go to be who he is. I’d never picked up on the latin phrase, and was always confused by Galileo, but seeing it as saying “magnify Jesus’ image” makes a lot of sense.
    Most importantly it has to be an epic tale. It has a classic literary structure played out musically and resolving at the end.
    I love what you’ve done here.

    1. Thank you MZ. I think you’re right on the nose. It’s an epic tale….MEANT to be epic in scope, with a certain majesty and beauty in the storytelling.

      But right too about the classic literary structure….any way the wind blows…ultimately, the story continues even if the characters die, like Sam said to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.

  28. Ceels Avatar

    I have always loved Queen and worshipped Freddie. As a young girl growing up in the 70’s I had many posters of him against my bedroom walls and my late Mom also loved their music. We used to sing along whenever we heard their songs 🙂
    I have so enjoyed these interpretations. Whatever the true meaning may be, it remains the most incredible song. I saw Queen live in 1984 and was blown away by their show.

    On a little personal note:

    l leant last week that a very dear friend of mine from the 80’s had died of cancer years ago and on me doing some research, I leant that he had executed a man in the line of duty whilst fighting in a war and that this incident changed his whole adult life. He become a professional soldier at the age of 18 and at the age of 24 his life had changed forever. He suffered from PTSD and never could allow himself to experience peace & joy for the rest of his life. Bohemian Rhapsody’s lyrics just came to mind and I found myself in tears thinking that these lyrics describes how he must have felt and I know he loved Queen and Freddie’s music too.
    I too wish that Freddie and my friend was still here.

    1. Ceels, I am sorry about your friend’s pain, and I understand the love you and your mom had in singing Queen together. I think that would have made Freddie very happy to hear.

      I like going to kareoke with my friends and usually sing a Queen song. I can’t help it. It makes me happier. And people in the room always sing along.

  29. secret.... Avatar

    I think that the part where it says (sings?) I just killed a man, I honestly think that he means that he’s killing the man IN himself. So he’s saying he is gay (which he is…).

    1. Secret, I think this makes sense, although I wonder if sometimes we are reading too much ‘gay’ into it. Like Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls. Does that mean anything about Freddie?

      It’s easy to read Bohemian Rhapsody as a biographical epic…because it’s great storytelling. But like Lord of the Rings, which might have been informed by the author’s experience of the world wars, was never intended as an allegory.

      I might have more thoughts after seeing Rocketman tonight.

  30. Steve J. Avatar
    Steve J.

    I’m truly impressed by what I’m reading here. These comments are all really good interpretations but I can’t help but think the song isn’t about just one thing. If you recall watching the movie the characters describe their band (themselves and what Queen is all about) as being for everyone, “that person in the back row that doesn’t feel they belong there either”. I think there is some truth to that as well. I’m sure this song means a lot of all of these things that people so thoughtfully wrote here. Sure, there is a grain of truth about Freddy’s personal struggle but I don’t think Freddy meant it as his personal opus. The historical accounting of Galileo and the church, but I don’t think Freddy was pointing a finger at religion itself. The existentialist analogy of The Stranger by Camus, but I don’t think Freddy was proposing reckless abandon because “nothing really matters” to him. Metaphorically, it ties to all of these interpretations I think. Ambiguity in song writing so that it’s not personal is useful. You want others to see something general that you see, but in their own interpretation and that makes it successful if it does just that. This song is perfect at being relatable by everyone that struggles with the existing world views out there. Thus, I see the song as a genius general introspective we have all felt regarding social acceptance in a world rife with condemnation for anyone who dares to be different. It screams on something wrong… something inherent in life itself that makes it unbearable at times… that we all feel we are too small to change the wrongs we see no matter how strongly we feel about them because we “just don’t fit in” or are too small a voice against the predominant ideologies out there. Best regards to you all, keep your dreams alive! -Steve

    1. Steve, that’s a very astute and thoughtful commentary from you. I have not read Camus, but I think you’re on to something.

      So many people feel marginalized and misunderstood. Very sad, but what can we personally do to get that acceptance? For Freddie, his art was his voice and attempt to find happiness.

      I agree there is a measure of relatability in Bohemian Rhapsody. Otherwise, a six minute song with strange words would have never taken off, much less be something so beloved so many years later.

  31. I think everyone has to listen,listen, listen. Freddie alway referenced his life’s “opus” from the song love of my life to we will rock you and I may add we are the champions. Freddie was a bit extroverted type. He had no real hidden message. He sang as he felt. So people, stop looking into something that is not there. He knew he was sick and he pulled the trigger. He was a great singer without a cause.

    1. Melinda Avatar

      My understanding of Love of my life lyrics if about Mary is that he perceives that she has left him and that she has taken her love away from him. This is codependency. He though she was his answer. Her love wasn’t real or it ran out because she wasn’t connected to the SOURCE ( Jesus ) . But even if Mary was. Mary couldn’t fix the brokeness in Freddie. He needed to go to the SOURCE for himself. He wants something Mary doesn’t have available to give him. So sad. What a pathetic pleading. Come back, come back, come back. I’m empty and I NEED you. Come back.

      1. Agreed. It is a sad story. For both Mary and Freddie.

        At least he left behind a beautiful creative legacy. That’s something good.

    2. You may be right and the songs are just fun outlets, and we are reading more into them than was intended.

      This is the beauty of art. People can try to read into it, or just accept it, but something good is forever.

    3. Matt, that works for me too. It was a four way collaboration, and the case can be made they were just having a bit of dramatic fun.

  32. Matteo sr Avatar

    Yeah!!! Jill. I am so sick of people trying to psychoanalyze everything. The man was an artist. An artist does what an artist does, he creates. The songs are a form of the inner souls of the artist. When someone connects than it becomes a part of their inner being. Sooooo, live and let live and long live the QUEEN.
    THANKS Jill hope you have a wonderful week.

    1. Matteo Sr, we so often read all kinds of things into what isn’t there, where it’s in movies, music, paintings, sculpture….anything creative that doesn’t actually hold the viewers hand and say, “This is what I meant.” And you read all kinds of interviews these days where the creator says, “No, I never meant any of that.” Which is kind of funny.

      But I do like how sometimes a thing will endure because it speaks to the viewer in a way that wasn’t intended. Like Van Gogh’s paintings of The Chair, and Starry Night. I think with the chair, it was something he had in his room at the asylum and he thought he could make a still life from it. With Starry Night, he clearly was more inspired there than he was by the chair, but I think he just wanted to paint something he thought was cool. Monet liked the effect of light on water and painted a lot of that. And so on.

      People can put all kinds of interpretations on things if they wish. It probably tells us more about the viewer than the actual creation. 🙂

  33. Everrett Richardson Avatar
    Everrett Richardson

    Same here you took every thought I was thinking I related to it for that reason. Ready to discontinue my love for the song with the other reasons others was thinking. I dont believe it was as deep as described of others. Good job

  34. Everrett Richardson Avatar
    Everrett Richardson

    Exactly I do cry a bit because I relate to others comment on his personal inner self it’s a struggle and painful.

  35. Freddie was the most sensitive and caring person in the world. As the 70’s became more and more difficult to deal with coming out and dealing with AIDS had to be the most trying error of the 20th century.

  36. King Ghidora Avatar
    King Ghidora

    Scaramouch was a buzzword in the 60’s that was often used as the name of a shop of various types, usually clothing. It meant pretty much boastful coward, which is something a hippy would not find offensive but charming. You should know the culture from which Queen arose. And a Fandango is a wild party, not just a necktie party Mexican style re. ZZ Top’s album by that name.

  37. Freddie was the most sensitive and caring person in the world. As the 70’s became more and more difficult to deal with coming out and dealing with AIDS had to be the most trying error of the 20th century.

  38. You may be right and the songs are just fun outlets, and we are reading more into them than was intended.

    This is the beauty of art. People can try to read into it, or just accept it, but something good is forever.

  39. Freddie was the most sensitive and caring person in the world. As the 70’s became more and more difficult to deal with coming out and dealing with AIDS had to be the most trying error of the 20th century…………

  40.  Avatar

    Very interesting analysis, however, they are all incorrect and the truth about the meaning is quite shocking.

  41. Great, Thanks for sharing

  42. “Eduardo
    November 17, 2019 at 9:36 am
    Every word in the song BR is about HIV,DRUGS,being GAY freddie must have known what was in store for him-sad but anyone can see”

    Let me must break this comment down.

    “the song BR is about HIV”

    The song was written in the late 60s (it was called ‘The Cowboy Song’ then) and recorded in 1975, AIDS/HIV was not discovered until 1981.

    So how did Freddie write about a virus that no one knew about and one that wasn’t even discovered at the time?


    Queen as a band were very much struggling in 1975. They couldn’t afford their own instruments then (they used to rent, except Brian who made his own guitar), never mind buy drugs. The whole drugs aspect of Freddie’s life came about much later.

    “being GAY”

    Freddie was in a straight relationship at the time, he had no idea he was gay. Freddie himself has said he didn’t realise he was bisexual until the late 70s.

    Freddie has said it’s a song about nothing, it’s complete fantasy. It’s whatever the listener wants it to be about. There is no real meaning to the song.

  43. Awesome, thanks for sharing with us

  44. Thanks, Everrett Richardson. I really want to think it’s just a fantastical story that dips into all kinds of of music genres. LOVE the Operatic Section and rock ballad. And the coda. Just outstanding storytelling too.

    However, since the band was absolutely dead set on having this song as is on the record, to the point of walking out on the producer, then there’s something undoubtedly meaningful here.

    The band’s entire silence on the meaning of Freddie’s song is also suspect.

    Lastly, the ‘Mercury’ connection is probably no coincidence.

    It might be a lot of everything said here and nothing at all. Which is a very Alice in Wonderland thing to say, no?

  45. John Melan, you’re right. I think Freddie was too sensitive and gentle for his time. He suffered so much. I hope he’s found peace wherever he is now.

  46. King Ghidora, good insights and thanks for the other meanings of Fandango and Scaramouch .

    Hmmmm, interesting about ZZ Top. I loved that band back in the day. Going to have eto do some research now, hmmmm. Musical research, yeah!

  47. Poonam Choudhary, I doubt we will ever know for sure, but as with any great art, we can decide what to take away from the experience of it.

  48. Anonymous…you going to tell us what is incorrect? Still waiting… 😉

  49. Steve Perrin, that’s a great breakdown. If Freddie didn’t know he was gay at the time (well, he must have suspected), and AIDS wasn’t a thing yet, then it could be just a random creative work of genius.

    But why then does it endure so deeply into our collective psyche, if it’s just a minstrel’s ballad? As in the first stanza, it could be everything or nothing at all:

    Is this the real life?
    Is it just fantasy?

    And that’s for us all to decide…

  50. Greetings, most kind and insightful friends! I just realized this is the 100th comment on this article about the meaning of Bohemian Rhapsody.

    I want to thank you all for continuing to share such a thoughtful, intelligent conversation. I’m impressed with how civil such a long thread is! May it keep on keeping on.


  51. I recently read a karmic interpretation of the song that made me wonder if Freddie was familiar with the story of The Earl of Sandwich, Martha Raye, and James Hackman (who was hung for murder. Fandango, anyone?)
    Also, a Rhapsody was a song made up of many styles, like this one.

  52. […] What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody … […]

  53. Hi…
    Has anyone heard the explanation from Freddy Mercury himself? He was asked during an interview
    time long ago. His answer?…He simply said it was about himself….and he preferred not to expand further on that subject because he enjoyed the attention his music was getting even then…..and also adding he enjoyed all
    that fans demonstrated such imagination and interest…..I know Freddy was a true prodigy when it came to his music……he loved
    sharing it along the way…..he loved the money he earned too.sharing it to all he loved and held dear…..tho Mary was truly his best friend and he sure deserved her….but she deserved him also… was a magical relationship enduring thru the ages…..we should be so fortunate….their affections for one another was a treat for us to enjoy…..
    Did you learn their lesson for us?
    My pleasure is day dreaming …maybe I could do the same!!!!!How about y
    Let’s enjoy our dreams and always watch to as to recognize when it does come true for us…………….

  54. Kristen Eileen Osborne Avatar
    Kristen Eileen Osborne

    I agree with Carol. Freddie also said in an interview that it was a combination of a few different songs. A lot of the songs that Freddie, in particular, wrote had similar parallels to what eventually happened. He didn’t know he was sick until 1987 though, so it couldn’t have been a prediction. Definitely, made me think about his coming to terms with his own sexuality, especially after reading some of the interpretations here, and the bloggers research. Thanks for the enlightening read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oh, and his name WAS Freddie Mercury. Legally. Freddie forever, darlings xxxx

  55. Hi are any of the people who made comments regarding Bohemian Rhapsody, English? Because although it’s been suggested that the song was about Freddie Mercury’s tormented life, or a boy that killed someone or someone committing suicide. When the song was played in the uk for the first time it was are they going to allow such a long single.No singles were longer than 3mins back then. Anyway when people heard the lyrics “Just killed a man“and this young man was facing death. Some thought that it was about the true life hanging of Derek Bentley.The young man hung for the killing of a policeman in 1958.The infamous words “Let him have it “

  56. Mark T Howard Avatar
    Mark T Howard

    Lots of great interspective interpretations here. Granted, this comes after having seen the movie, but I wonder how much of the operatic section was derived from his casting off the religion his parents lived by (as I understand it, his folks were very devout Islamics) but not being able to shake it off entirely? If you look at the lyrics beginning with “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family” with ‘poor’ meaning lamentable, not destitute, on, through the lens of ostracization, it doesn’t change the meaning but the “why” of the lyrics, I think. Oh, and the “I’m just a poor boy/nobody loves me” could tie into this ostracized theory since, at the time, many religions did not condone homosexuality (I know, it’s not much different now).

  57. Either way, the song is a work of genius and one of the best-selling singles in the history of rock music for many reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates the unique talent of Freddie Mercury as an author and performer, who was able to combine different styles and genres in one work. Secondly, it shows the high level of musical skill of the Queen group, which used complex arrangements, harmonies, and polyphony. Thirdly, it has a strong emotional charge and captures the listener with its drama and expression. Fourth, she is a symbol of freedom and creativity, which were important to Freddie Mercury and his generation. Freddie’s work inspires me so much that I even wrote an essay on this topic.

  58.  Avatar

    Very well reasoned argument, but there are a few assumptions that can easily be corrected. Specifically, that “Rhapsody” means fantasy, and that the original meaning of Bohemian was “artist.”

    Bohemian in its original form meant a person from the region of Bohemia, in what is now the Czeck Republic. I don’t know why we use it now to refer to people with an interest in the arts (and often a bit quirky.) Maybe people from that area were artistic?

    “Rhapsody” has nothing to do with fantasy. It refers to an epic poem, an ecstatic expression of feeling or an particularly exuberant and longer than usual instrumental movement

    So “Bohemian Rhapsody” could easily be interpreted as an ecstatic artistic expression Which the song certainly feels like.

    Just another interpretation of one aspect of your article. It really is a great analysis.

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