Monday, November 20, 2017

Rhapsodic Music Monday

I'm not an avid fan of 20th (or 21st) century pop/rock, but a handful of songs of that genre did appeal to me. I was always was drawn to, and still have on my favourites list: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)- see below; MacArthur Park (Richard Harris), Whiter Shade of Pale(Procul Harum), More Like the Movies (Dr. Hook), and Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty).

The first three songs have a whisper, or echo, of classical about them that I enjoy, the fourth, I like just because; and the fifth - I lurve that saxophone!

With regard to Bohemian Rhapsody, I read a couple of interesting responses to questions about the song, at Quora a while ago:

From Neil Anderson
I’ve heard a number of people suggest it’s about AIDS. It absolutely isn’t. The song was released in 1975. AIDS wasn’t even spoken about until the early 80s and Freddie wasn’t diagnosed until 87.

There’s an idea that it’s about coming out.

This sort of works in the first verse, as a man telling his mother he’s gay and had killed his old self. The rest of the song doesn’t work so well with this for me, but I accept it’s plausible.

There’s a version released with album notes saying it’s a cosmic argument between God and the devil over the soul of a murderer. Hmmm.

For me it’s a tale of murder. It does what it says.

A man kills someone for reasons we don’t know. He confesses to his mother and tries to run, but the police arrive and he’s taken away.

The operatic section is complex.
Scaramouch is a clown character. He’s comparing himself to a tragic clown. The hemp fandango is slang for the twitching of a hanged man. He’s asking if he’ll be hanged.

He’s tried for murder and there’s a court case which is hotly debated and/or a public outcry about his position and whether he should be tried and executed when he’s a victim of circumstance. The legal profession feel he should, but many don’t agree.

Meanwhile he feels abandoned by his family and/or lover who refuse to engage with him.

We leave before we know what will happen, but the protagonist realises that life and death for people like him are so meaningless that he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies.

It’s a cross between a tragic opera and a murder ballad.

Freddie was candid about it and often said it’s about what you want it to be about. He’s also said that much of it was nonsense.

Freddie wasn’t always truthful.

It’s what ever you want it to be.

Someone had also asked:
What is the meaning of Bismillah in "Bismillah, no! We will not let him go!" Noam Kaiser replied:
Originally the question asked was "Who is Bismillah".
It isn't a "who", it's a "what".
Bismillah" is a term in Arabic meaning "in the name of Allah" and the beginning of the most common Islamic prayer.
"No, in the name of god, we will not let you go".
It was a nod at Freddie Mercury's upbringing in majority-Muslim Zanzibar.
The meaning of the usage of the term is vague and has been interpreted as trying to spare either the young man's (depicted in the song) life or his soul.


R J Adams said...

I think Freddie was right, Bohemian Rhapsody was another 'American Pie'. For years folk tried to figure out the meaning behind 'American Pie'. Then Don McLean came out and admitted it was just made-up nonsense (pretty good nonsense, though!) Later, when he was selling the manuscript he did try to give it some meaning, but it may have just been to help the sale.
What does it matter? If it sounds good, and it does you good, that's what matters. Hell, I don't know most of the words of Wagnerian opera, but I sure love just listening.
I like all the songs on your list - and yes, I just lurve that saxophone, too.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Any song with lyrics complex or enigmatic enough to get people discussing them, year after year, even decade after decade, must have "a kind of magic" within it.
Beatles have several like that. There was a song by The Killers ("Are we human or are we dancer") around a decade or so ago, which brought out a lot of comments - highly unusual number for this blog, even then! A song writer has to be pretty darn clever to write such a song, though I guess some such ditties did happen quite accidentally (or were written while "under the influence"). :-)