When I'm dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance.
Freddie Mercury emerged as a popular singer when Elvis, Mick Jagger, Ian Gillan, John Lennon, Barry Gibb, Mike Love etc dominated the music world. When he entered the Rock Music Industry, it was not multicultural and the Anglo American media giants predominantly controlled it. During that era, a non-WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) had no chance to become a rock star. Although prolonged and laborious work of black American musicians like Chuck Barry, Little Richards, Ray Charles, and Quincy Jones had made some progress and opened some doors in early sixties and early seventies the rock music industry was highly secular.
Freddie Mercury was the first major rock star who had an Asian origin. Regardless of his origin, Freddie conquered the music world and became the best of the best. His vocal prowess and flamboyant performances were incomprehensible. Freddy will be remembered as a talented vocalist of any generation. He could sing anything from hard rock to opera, from blues to metal. He was an artist with many talents. Freddie Mercury was an accomplished pianist, lyricist, stage performer and a composer.
Freddie’s songs conveyed deep philosophical and psychological messages. He sang about his inner solitude and sometimes his dual individuality and the emotional divergences. He thought that his Indian, origin obstructed him to become a great star and he changed his real name Farookh Bulsara in to a numinous pseudonym. As Salman Rushdie once stated Freddie Mercury concealed his identity and became a nowhere man from nowhere land. Freddie Mercury had a lifetime struggle to establish his identity. He had a cast of thousands and a man with thousand faces. Describing himself in an interview Freddie stated "Deep down inside I am a very emotional person, a person of real extremes, and often that's destructive to myself and others."
His songs carried underlying meanings and Mercury’s allusions to his own controversial life. Freddie Mercury was a follower of a religion named Zoroastrianism that is one of the world's oldest and most exclusive religions founded by the prophet Zoroaster in 600 B.C. His songs touched the mysticism of religion to magic and some theological terms from Zoroastrianism.
Freddie Mercury was the lead singer of the
His songs had most diverse kind of lyrics and it was a mixture of music, ideas and philosophies of Rene Descartes Jean Jack Russo, Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix. Most of his songs were inspired by magic and fantasy. But he spoke of deep philosophy through his music.
In the song, My fairy King Freddie Mercury comes with a classic prose and poetry that narrates a fantasy land. Although the situation imagined and it does not correspond with reality, it expresses the desire and aims of the singer to detach from the realism.
In the land where horses born with eagle wings
And honey bees have lost their stings
There's singing forever to you
Lions den with fallow deer
And rivers made from wines so clear
Flow on and on forever
Dragons fly like sparrows thru' the air
And baby lambs where Samson dares
To go on
In 1984, Mercury made his music video ‘I Want To Break Free’ which is an outcry and emotional catharsis. In this video Mercury dresses as a woman but keeps his moustache, which symbolizes his identity predicament, isolation and ostracism despite the preservation of masculinity. Freddie Mercury kept a mystique about his image. Mercury once said of himself: "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man. Freddie Mercury s elation could be notified in the hit song The Show Must Go On, where he recounts his inner feelings.
"My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly, my friends"
Freddie’s dual personality was captured in the song Great Pretender. This is a form Jungian explanation of the persona -The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious" (1928) Two Essays on Analytical Psychology by Carl Jung. Jung describes the persona as a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual. Freddie Mercury summarized the Jungian words thus.
Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Just laughing and gay like a clown
I seem to be what I'm not you see
I'm wearing my heart like a crown
Pretending that you're still around
In the early days Freddy’s mother Jer Bulsara was not happy about her son’s interest towards music and she saw Freddy’s song writing as a waste of time. He was sent to a boarding school in Mumbai and Freddy was homesick. When Freddie was 16, the family moved to Britain and he pursued his life long career as a musician. In his song Mother love Freddy talked about maternal affection hence.
I don’t want to sleep with you
I don’t need the passion too
I don’t want a stormy affair
To make me feel my life is heading somewhere
All I want is the comfort and care
Just to know that my woman gives me sweet - Mother love
Freddie’s unrivaled song living on my own gives a picture of a desperado opposing the Victorian society. Freddy always became a controversial character who acted on his fantasies and instincts. In addition, he openly challenged the hypocrisy of the Victorian society. He was the modern day Oscar Wild. He described his passion and emotional soreness in graceful lyrics. His disheartening song Living on my own is a living testimony of Freddy’s emotional twinge.
Sometimes I feel I'm gonna break down and cry
Nowhere to go nothing to do with my time
I get lonely so lonely living on my own
Sometimes I feel I'm always walking too fast
And everything is coming down on me down on me
I go crazy oh so crazy living on my own
Freddie Mercury’s powerful ballad Who Wants to Live Forever was the soundtrack to the motion picture Highlander. In this song, Freddie’s voice reverberates in a high falsetto and creates a magnificent melody registering his phonetic abilities perpetually. Who Wants to Live Forever made Freddy as the best singer of all time. He was well known for his powerful vocal competency and was able to roar through a metal tune.
There's no chance for us
It's all decided for us
This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us
Who wants to live forever
Who wants to live forever
Who dares to love forever
When love must die
His musical hit Bohemian Rhapsody carried a numerous metaphors and symbolism that transformed the band into a global phenomenon. Bohemian Rhapsody" song was written by Freddy Mercury which had no chorus but consisted of six sections: introduction, ballad, guitar solo, opera, rock and outro. Bohemian Rhapsody could be considered as an enigmatic philosophical song that was not decoded completely. Up-to-date Bohemian Rhapsody remains a puzzle. This song has fatalistic lyrics. Some argue that Bohemian Rhapsody echoes Mercury’s personal traumas reveling the complexity of his inner mind. This song represents a self-explanatory portion of Freddy. Perhaps Bohemian Rhapsody could be the musical version of Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger.
Bohemian Rhapsody begins with the powerful vocals of Freddy, which describes the clashes between his inner fantasies and realities. He was born in Zanzibar to an Indian Parsi Family and raised in England. He was exposed to three different cultures and in each culture; his biopersona (biological component of his personality) was suppressed creating a colossal guilt in him. The society that he lived expected him to live an artificial life less then his expectations. Mercury felt trapped and found no escape.
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,
Little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me - to me
In the second part Freddy talks about a murder which could be treated as a metaphor. Metaphor and allegory were powerful literary and conceptual tools which often used by him to create melody, rhythm and philosophy.
Mama, 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
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
In the third section, Freddy talks about his destitution and hidden death wish contrary to his insensible desire to live.
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 -
I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all -
The Opera Section begins with a powerful vocal presentation. Freddy Mercury uses the name of a fictional character - Scaramouch that was created by Rafael Sabatini.
I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and Lightning - very very frightening me-
Gallileo Figaro - Magnifico -
I'm just a poor boy nobody loves me
He's just a poor boy froma poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come, easy go - will you let me go
In the subsequent part, the singer utters a name Bismillah which means the God. It is a poetic phrase translated as in the name of the God, most gracious and most compassionate.
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 him go
Will not let you go - Let me go
Will not let you go - Let me go
No, no, no, no, no, no, no-
Mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go -
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.
The final part of the song is the rock section. In this branch Freddy’s emotional struggle and apathy is emphasized. However, he is ready to accept the consequences.
So you think you can stone 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 -
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters, nothing really matters - to me
Freddie Mercury and the
Freddie Mercury could be regarded as the Fyodor Dostoyevsky of Rock Music who painted rock music with philosophy, fantasy and psychology. He sang about the inner human psyche and human freedom. The talented artist , accomplished musician and legendary showman Freddy Mercury died on 24 November 1991 at the age of 45. He lived a relatively a short life, but he made a profound impact on music and culture.
-Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge