Scaramouch, will you do the fandango?

August 4, 2017

 

Writing is astoundingly difficult. Writing well is cutting yourself open and bleeding on the page. At its least, writing is a reflection of our views on society and the world around us. Writing at its most intimate is pulling your guts out of your middle and laying them on a dinner table for everyone to stare, poke, scowl and guffaw at (and I know I’m not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, so this handy parenthetical statement helps me avoid that).

 

Writing music is altogether more difficult. I have written 9 screenplays, two novels and multiple short pieces, but I must confess that I am at a complete loss to understand how music is written. I mean, there’s only 12 notes. Few instrumental songs have become monstrously popular (Green Onions and Love’s Theme come to mind), but when you add lyrics, another complex layer is set atop an already impossible process, so much so, that I wonder how any song ever gets written.  When you have a song that is internationally famous, and famous for being good, you have something truly unique. Bohemian Rhapsody is such a song. Bohemian Rhapsody is also a song steeped in mystery. And it is a song that is truly enigmatic.

 

I never knew there was any controversy surrounding the song. Many have speculated on its meaning. The song’s writer, Freddie Mercury, refused to explain his composition other than saying it was about relationships; and the band, Queen, is still protective of the song's secret.

 

I always thought it was kind of obvious, but it may be hard for Americans to grasp the inferences. Queen, is a British band, sculpted by the social and religious influences of England at the time, 1970. Their name is an obvious homosexual reference, and Mercury himself came out as a gay man in the 70’s. This decision is the major theme of the song. Mercury was raised with English and Catholic influences all around him. When he wrote "Bohemian Rhapsody", he had been living with his girlfriend for years, but  just began his first foray into homosexuality.  Now while I am no fan of hedonistic lifestyle (see Simon Fanshawe's treatise https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/homosexual-uk-documentarian-says-gay-lifestyle-a-sewer-of-casual-degrading) , I am opposed to religious dogma forcing people into choices they would otherwise not make, in an attempt to escape hell. Christianity is about relationship, and many of the world’s largest and most powerful religious institutions seem to have forgotten that.

 

Now, on to cases. In analyzing this landmark song, we see that it reflects: 

Mercury’s personal turmoil
Concerns about what he has been pretending to be
Concerns about what he believes himself to be
Concerns about what society will say about it
Concerns about what the Church will say about it
Concerns about what God thinks about it
And in the end, resignation.

 

The introduction sums up the story- he is in turmoil, but he decides to resign himself to his fate and let the cards fall where they may.

 

"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"

 

He expands the story that he laid out in the introduction, he killed a man (the man he was living as) and thrown away acceptance by society, the Church (mama is Mary) and possibly God.

 

"Mama, (I) 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, ooo
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"

 

He has decided to live as he wishes, and take the consequences.

 

"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, ooo (anyway the wind blows)
I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all"


This is the sentiment many people express when they feel like their life has presented insurmountable difficulty.  

 

This middle passage has been called nonsense. It is not nonsense. It is reflective of the value he wants to see in himself, the question of value he has to the public and the question of value he has in God’s eyes.  A Scaramouch is a dancing clown, a jester. Maybe the public will still love him as long as he plays the dancing clown. But what about the Church? (Remember we are talking about the Church of England which in the mid-70s exercised almost unchallenged political and religious power). And what about God? 

 

Galileo is repeated. Galileo was denounced as a heretic and condemned. Would he (Mercury) suffer the same fate as the scientist? And was that just the Church’s assessment, or God’s too? Would God be sending down lightning bolts and punishment as literature had always portrayed? He cries to God to let him go (referencing the name for Allah, as he was raised in the Zoroastrian religion with influences from Christianity, Judaism and Islam). Then, he resigns to the fact that it is hopeless, and that the devil has a special tormenter set aside just for him.

 

"I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me
Gallileo, Gallileo,
Gallileo, Gallileo,
Gallileo 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"

 

These references following are a little more veiled. 
Perhaps he confided in his girlfriend, or a priest, and they rejected him. 

 

"So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh baby can't do this to me baby
Just gotta get out just gotta get right outta here"

 

The song ends with the turmoil over. He has made his decision. 
He will live as he wishes, and let the rest of the world sort itself out.

 

"Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters nothing really matters to me
...Anyway the wind blows"

 

Over 70% of everyone you meet is in deep crisis at the time. Realize as a writer, you are going to touch nerves- hopefully for the better but maybe not. My intent is to never denigrate anyone with my ability, but to shed light and bring truth to the human condition. Of course there are those who will misunderstand that. Gallileo, Gallileo.

 

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