Queen performing in New Haven, CT.

Anyway the wind blows…Queen’s anthem Bohemian Rhaposdy

Bohemian Rhaposdy was released in 1975 and has subsequently gone down as one of the greatest songs in British music history. Seeing as Queen’s masterpiece has just celebrated 40 years since its release, it seems right to analyse its legacy.

Originally released as a single, the song sold over a million copies by the end of 1976 and topped the charts for nine weeks running. Consistently ranked with the very best songs ever written, it was voted as Britain’s favourite Number 1 in a 2012 poll by ITV.

There is no doubt that Bohemian Rhapsody has to be one of most confusing and least-understood songs ever written. However, there is something about it that is simply brilliant, appealing to small children running around at home to middle aged hardcore rockers.

Mercury blends in a melting-pot of genres throughout the piece combining everything from heavy rock, ballad and opera. The whole song is then capped off in a similar style to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with a single mysterious line ‘anyway the wind blows’.

The song perhaps gained more popularity when Freddie Mercury sadly died in 1991 and it also became associated with film Wayne’s World which boosted popularity in the USA.

Some people also point to Bohemian Rhapsody for the beginning of the music video. The promotional video’s success paved the way for other artists to use music videos and arguably lead to the era of MTV.

The meaning of the song has never really been explained by Mercury or the rest of Queen. What little information which has been revealed has suggested the song is about Mercury’s troubled relationships but he has never said explicitly. Here is what he has 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… “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research although it was tongue-in-cheek and mock opera. Why not?’

 

Bohemian Rhapsody is also well known for its strange phrases and words. Here are a few explanations:

Scaramouche is a stock character from the Italian clown tradition commedia dell’arte. He’s a fool, but adept at getting himself out of trouble.

A fandango is a Spanish flamenco dance.

Figaro is the main character from Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville.

Bismillah means “in the name of Allah” and is the first word in The Qu’ran.

 

Image Credits: Carl Lender [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons, OTRS.

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