I fell in love with Queen when, strangely enough, I was working on my National History Day project in 8th Grade. The topic that year was a person who had made a difference, and I picked Bob Geldof for his work in the 1980s to help the Ethiopian famine victims. It was while working on this that I saw Queen’s Live Aid performance and fell in love with their music. For the next few weeks I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “We are the Champions” endlessly – especially “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The song just mesmerizes you – it’s a magical combination of opera, rock, with international melodies thrown in and the most unbelievable lyrics. The song was written by Freddie Mercury himself – and it’s evident from the lyrics that there was a lot more substance to him than one would expect from a self-centered rock star. Let’s look at some of the words that one never hears – Scaramouch – what exactly is a Scaramouch?
“I see a little silhouette of a man
Scaramouch, Scaramouch will you do the fandango”
According to the Webster dictionary a Scaramouch is a character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness.
Ummm….. Ok? – well that clears that up. Again – more substance than one expects from a rockstar.
And a fandango for those who care to know is “a lively Spanish dance for two people typically accompanies by castanets or tambourine.”
No one really seems to know what exactly the song means – and that perhaps adds to its enduring popularity.
Freddie was born Freddie Bulsara to a Parsi family. Like so many colonial families, his family relocated from India to Zanzibar, and then to England. All of these influences shaped his life and his music.
Freddie was not only a brilliant songwriter, singer and piano player – he was also a marketing genius. By the time of Live Aid, Queen’s popularity was on a decline. Freddie knew this, and saw Live Aid as a chance to change all that. In a short performance, he sang all of Queen’s best hits and was in complete control of the crowd on both sides of the Atlantic. He gave an flamboyant, charismatic performance – perhaps the best ever in a live concert. With that he ensured his music would live on forever. And last week, more than 25 years after his death, when I walked into a store, I realized he had managed to do just that.