Rhapsodizing For Bohemia

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February 9, 2018 by T. Gregory Argall

1 : a portion of an epic poem adapted for recitation
2 archaic : a miscellaneous collection
3 a (1) : a highly emotional utterance (2) : a highly emotional literary work (3) : effusively rapturous or extravagant discourse
b : rapture, ecstasy
4 : a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character

a : vagabond, wanderer; especially : gypsy
b : a person (such as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was first recorded in 1975 for Queen’s album “A Night At The Opera,” and everyone you know has heard it at least ten times, even newborn babies. For most people the number is in the thousands.
But one person heard it first, before anyone else, and he heard it in his head; Freddie Mercury.

As a creative unit, the band Queen had an unwritten policy of trusting each other’s art. Any member of the band could present a weird or unusual or never-been-done-before idea and the rest of the band would automatically say, “OK,” and help make it happen before passing judgement.

Picture the scene, Freddie shows up at the studio one morning and says, “OK, guys, here’s what I’m thinking… Thunderbolts and lightning are kind of frightening, right? So, at this point we have this sort of overpowering forceful harmony singing ‘Galileo Figaro’ and then we all swear Bismillah that we won’t let the guy go and we say ‘No’ a lot. And then there’s something about Beelzub. Sound cool?”
Sounds like an absolutely bonkers idea, actually, but Brian, Roger, and John all nodded and said, “Yup, sounds cool.”

The result was one of the greatest musical compositions of the twentieth century.

Even the title is perfect. “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You can take any combination of the various meaning of both of those words and it will work as a description of the song.

As with most well-received songs of the rock era, there eventually came the many cover versions. While, obviously, none of them reached the heights of the original, in their own way they all captured the “That’s a ridiculous idea, let’s do it” spirit that inspired Freddie and the rest of Queen in the first place. I think Mr. Mercury would have been pleased with all of these.

As the band name implies, “Hayseed Dixie” started out doing bluegrass cover versions of AC/DC songs and then expanded their repertoire from there. Clearly they have managed to refrain from taking themselves too seriously.

Mnozil Brass is an Austrian brass band playing traditional and customized brass instruments. Their performances include an wide range of musical styles combined with random absurdist humour. They’ve been called “The Monty Python of the musical world.”

The Muppets are, well, they’re the Muppets. It doesn’t get more bohemian than the Muppets. Their version of of the song shows reverence and respect towards the original while also capturing all that being a Muppet means.

A brilliant and clever woman named Malinda Kathleen Reese has spent years entering song lyrics into Google Translate and cycling them through multiple languages before ending up back with English, then recording the results. This is her version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Some filmmakers called Sam and Niko decided to adapt the story that the song tells into a short film. Because why not?

Last summer at a Green Day concert in Hyde Park, London, the most amazing thing happened. At any major concert, before the band goes on, as the crowd is getting settled, the sound guy puts on some filler music, usually a mix of his/her own favourite songs, and plays it just to have something happening until showtime. At this particular concert, the stage camera happened to be running as a certain song came on in the pre-show mix and everyone sang along.

Amazing, huh?

Try to be nice to each other.





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