posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 03:46 AM
Among gay men in Seventies London, gay life was often called 'the real life', or so I hear. With that in mind, it is fairly easy to understand the
opening lines of the song.
Freddie Mercury wasn't one of those people who recognized his own sexuality from the off. Given his conservative expatriate-Indian family background,
it's only too likely that he was afraid of it; he probably fought against or repressed his increasingly evident attraction to other men during his
adolescence. He was certainly still trying to do so in his twenties; he even had a solid long-term relationship with a woman, name of Mary Austin, who
remained close to him after he'd come out and -- it is rumoured -- nursed him through his final illness.
Mercury and Austin were still an item when the former wrote Rhapsody. The 'mama' in the song could be Fred's mum, an archetypal, judgemental
mother-figure, or Mary Austin herself. Most probably all three at the same time.
The man the singer has 'just killed' is his own straight self. I'll leave you to interpret the gun / trigger business according to your
The rest of the verse, all the way to 'if I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on' is self-explanatory and obviously addressed to
The second verse makes it clearer: the combination of lust and fear ('shivers down my spine / body's aching all the time') and the need to 'leave
it all (the straight life) behind and face the truth.' The man who 'doesn't want to die' is the straight Fred, while the gay one (they are, of
course, one and the same), wishes he had 'never been born at all'.
The choral part ('Scaramouche, Scaramouche') expresses Mercury's sense of guilt and fear over what he is about to do.
The part in 6/8 time that follows it is harder to interpret: could it be Mary's reaction? Or the reaction of his own former, straight self to being
abandoned? Either way, it fits. Either way, it's scary...
...but at the end of the song, the singer has found a kind of provisional acceptance: 'nothing really matters to me'.
Just don't ask me to prove any of it.