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Music / A Night at the Opera (1975)
aka: A Night At The Opera

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Music/BohemianRhapsody redirects here. For the film, see Bohemian Rhapsody.
Take care of those you call your own and keep good company.

A Night at the Opera is the fourth studio album by British Glam Rock band Queen, released in 1975 through EMI in the UK and Elektra Records in the US. Yes, it is named after the famous The Marx Brothers' film of the same name. Often cited as the most expensive album ever made at the time, with overdubs, vocal harmonies, and effects that resulted in it taking four months to record at seven studios, the album takes its "No synthesizers" claim and milks it for all it's worth. It's best known for the hit singles "Bohemian Rhapsody", "You're My Best Friend", "I'm In Love With My Car", and "Love Of My Life". A documentary about the creative process behind the making of this album can be seen in the Classic Albums TV documentary series.


Side One

  1. "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" (3:43)
  2. "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" (1:08)
  3. "I'm in Love with My Car" (3:05)
  4. "You're My Best Friend" (2:50)
  5. "'39" (3:25)
  6. "Sweet Lady" (4:01)
  7. "Seaside Rendezvous" (2:13)

Side Two

  1. "The Prophet's Song" (8:17)
  2. "Love of My Life" (3:38)
  3. "Good Company" (3:26)
  4. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (5:55)
  5. "God Save the Queen" (1:11)

Principal Members:

  • John Deacon - bass, piano
  • Brian May - guitar, backing and lead vocals, ukulele, koto, harp
  • Freddie Mercury - lead vocals, piano
  • Roger Taylor - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals

Are these the real tropes? Are they just fantasies?

  • An Aesop: "Good Company", which provides the image quote. Paraphrased, it could also be summed up as "Don't focus on work to the extent of excluding people from your life."
  • Album Closure: "God Save the Queen" is the national anthem of the United Kingdom and British colonies. Queen made an instrumental version of this song as the last track of the album. This version became so popular that Queen also used it as the song to close their live shows.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
  • As the Good Book Says...: "The Prophet's Song" references Noah's Ark and the Great Flood.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Basically what the album title alludes to.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Love of My Life" would later be turned into a concert duet with the audience.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "Death on Two Legs"
      But now you can kiss my ass goodbye!
    • A band named Queen covering "God Save the Queen"? That's got to be one heck of a boast!
  • Bohemian Parody: Trope Namer. Duh.
  • Book Ends: "Good Company" opens with the narrator describing how his pipe-puffing father advised him as a kid to take care of the people around him and "keep all good company." The song ends with the narrator as a pipe-puffing old man himself, contemplating how badly he messed up by alienating the people around him, having failed to follow his dad's advice.
  • Boring, but Practical: Brian May's method for supplying the harp parts. Since he couldn't actually play the instrument, he recorded each chord separately and edited them together to get the lines he wanted. On audio tape. It took days.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Bohemian Rhapsody" has Freddie doing this with the other band members and sometimes even with his own vocals.
  • Car Song: "I'm in Love with My Car", about Roger's love for his vehicle.
  • Concept Album: It's often speculated that it's one. After all, when you tie in the title as well as the ridiculous amounts of operatic and classical influences on this album over any other, it makes more than enough sense.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Love of My Life" has "when I get older I will be there at your side to remind you how I still love you, I still love you". Sixteen years later, "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (by a different songwriter though) has an older (and dying) Freddie singing "when I look and I find, I still love you... I still love you." The video makes it all even more tearful, as it was Freddie's last.
    • "Seaside Rendezvous" has "I love you madly", while "Was It All Worth It" from The Miracle has "We love you madly".
  • Cover Version: "God Save the Queen", an electric guitar rendition of the British national anthem (also the melodic basis for various patriotic songs in the US, Russia, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein). Notable in that Queen had never covered anything in the studio prior to this and would not cover anything else.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" lists the activities that the singer undertakes on each day of the week, ending with the title.
  • Defiant to the End: "Bohemian Rhapsody".
    Nothing really matters to me, anyway the wind blows.
  • The Diss Track: The opening track of A Night at the Opera, "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)", scathingly rails against the band's previous manager, Norman Sheffield, among other things likening him to "a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride" and outright telling him to kill himself. Sheffield was never mentioned by name in the song, but recognized that it was about him and sued for libel... which instead resulted in the song's subject matter becoming public knowledge. On the Live Killers version, Freddie Mercury ramped it up a bit more by saying it was dedicated to "a motherfucker of a gentleman".
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, which would eventually become the band's logo.
  • Echoing Acoustics: The vocal canon in "The Prophet's Song" uses tape delay to achieve this effect.
  • Establishing Series Moment: A variant contained within one album. The intro to album opener "Death on Two Legs" starts off with reverberated piano fading in, which loses its reverb—then sirens and multitracked guitar come in, along with more effects, being led into the actual song with a high scream by Freddie Mercury. This shows off the album's strong focus on effects and overdubs, as well as foreshadowing the repeated Song Style Shifts on "Bohemian Rhapsody."
  • Epic Rocking: "The Prophet's Song" is over eight minutes long, and stands as the second-longest track in Queen's discography (only being beat out by the 22:33 "'13'"). "Bohemian Rhapsody" nearly reaches the six-minute mark, but falls short by just five seconds (though this didn't stop the film of the same name from rounding up to six minutes).
  • Every Episode Ending: Played With. A few (but not all) of the songs have similar endings: the song will pretend to end, but then a heavily panned coda appears out of nowhere. At first, it sounds like it builds up to something, but nothing's really done with it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "I'm in Love with My Car" is a song about a man who's in love with his car.
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Gotta to leave you all behind and face the truth.
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • "Death on Two Legs" hard cuts into "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon". The latter, in turn, hard cuts into "I'm in Love With My Car".
    • The guitar at the end of "The Prophet's Song" fades into the introduction for "Love of My Life".
    • The gong at the end of "Bohemian Rhapsody" fades into "God Save the Queen".
  • Five Stages of Grief: The intro to "Bohemian Rhapsody" starts off "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"; the narrator is going through Denial. The part where the narrator talks about "Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter" is the narrator going through Despair. The opera part, especially the "Will you let me go?", is the narrator Bargaining. The hard rock section is, of course, Anger. In the final, gentle-sounding stage, the narrator shifts back into Despair before finally settling on Acceptance.
  • Genre Roulette: Heavy Metal, music hall, Hard Rock, Soft Rock, Folk, Hard Rock again, Vaudeville, Progressive Rocknote , piano music, Soft Rock again, "Bohemian Rhapsody"note , and the British National Anthem (in order).
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: In "Bohemian Rhapsody", various factions are fighting over the protagonist's soul:
    I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me,
    He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
    Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
    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 me go!)
    We will not let you go (Let me go!)
    We will not let you go,
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
  • Grand Finale: What better way to end an album than with the British national anthem? Particularly when the title contains the name of your band.
  • Gratuitous French: "Seaside Rendezvous" in the title alone, but also in the lyrics:
    Fantastique, c'est la vie, mesdames et messieurs
  • Gratuitous Italian: "Bohemian Rhapsody" has several Italian words thrown in for rhyme and to tie in with the song's operatic approach.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The middle section of "The Prophet's Song" revolves heavily around various unaccompanied overdubbed vocals jumping around the stereo channels.
  • Grief Song:
    • "Bohemian Rhapsody" is maybe a Murder Ballad about someone who killed a man and feels bad about it.
    • "'39" is about an astronaut who goes on a deep-space mission only to find his lover has passed away due to the time-dilation effect.
  • Heavy Mithril:
    • "'39", which is a literal space opera.
    • "The Prophet's Song" is supposed to be about the Biblical story of Noah, or so Brian May says (he also claims that the song came to him in a dream).
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon"
    I come from London town, I'm just an ordinary guy
    Fridays I go painting in the Louvre
  • Instrumentals: "God Save the Queen". Despite having official lyrics, the Queen version completely eschews them.
  • In the Style of:
    • "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon", which is played in the style of a music hall song.
    • "Bohemian Rhapsody", which is a mini-opera. Several songs have instrumentation borrowed from classical music.
  • Ironic Echo: "Good Company", with the line "take care of those you call your own and keep good company".
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.
  • I Want My Mommy!: The protagonist in "Bohemian Rhapsody" moans for his mother.
  • Lonely at the Top: The protagonist of "Good Company" manages to achieve his dream of owning a successful business, but at the cost of driving away his family and friends with his excessive dedication to his work. At the end of the song, he realizes what a tremendous mistake he made in spite of his material success, calling himself insane as a result.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The second movement of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is driven mostly by piano, and is narrated by a convict solemnly contemplating his impending execution. The fifth and final moment goes back to the style, with the convict (still solemnly) accepting his fate.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Bohemian Rhapsody" starts off with an opening acapella chorus.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "'39" is a happy, upbeat skiffle song, with lyrics about leaving on a space voyage for what seems like one year, but due to the time dilation effect, one hundred years have passed on Earth, and everyone the protagonist loves is long since dead.
    • "Good Company" is also quite sad if you listen past the seemingly upbeat (for most of the song) music, detailing the story of a businessman whose ambition drives off everyone close to him.
  • Metal Scream: Roger Taylor's piercing falsetto in "39" and "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • Mind Screw:
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" (1:08), "God Save the Queen" (1:11).
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The first three tracks. "Death On Two Legs" is a harsh, acerbic 'fuck you' of a song, that abruptly shifts into a tinkly piano solo and Freddie's twee lyrics of "Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon", which itself shifts into the slow, hard, rock ballad "I'm In Love With My Car". Without a single pause.
    • The whole album provides examples, mostly related to the Genre Roulette, but frequently within songs as well — "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the most famous case by far, but "The Prophet's Song" provides examples almost as strong.
  • Murder Ballad: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Mama, just killed a man.
  • Mythology Gag: The lyrics of "'39" playfully reference one of Freddie's pre-Queen bands, Sour Milk Sea.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • No Sympathy: The protagonist in "Bohemian Rhapsody" describes himself as "just a poor boy" who needs "no sympathy".
  • One-Woman Song: "Sweet Lady".
  • Precision F-Strike: "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" features exactly one curse word in the line "So now you can kiss my ass goodbye!" Additionally, Freddie Mercury introduced the song in the Live Killers rendition by completing the parenthetical subtitle, "dedicated to a motherfucker of a gentleman."
  • The Power of Friendship: "You're My Best Friend".
    You're the best friend that I ever had
    I've been with you such a long time
    You're my sunshine
    And I want you to know that my feelings are true
    I really love you
    You're my best friend
  • The Prophecy: "The Prophet's Song" in which a seer predicts what will happen in the future and urges everyone to listen to his wise words.
  • Rearrange the Song: Because "Bohemian Rhapsody" used a huge amount of overdubbing in the studio, live performances since 1977 frequently cut out the a Capella intro (sometimes swapping in the one from "Mustapha") and use a pre-recorded tape of the operatic section, accompanied by a screen projection of either the relevant portion of the music video or home movies of the band. Other live performances, including the one at Live Aid, only feature the ballad section.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" is "dedicated" to the band's former manager, and gives him quite an earful.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Appears a lot (it's Queen, after all).
    • One of the most prominent usages occurs during the middle part of "The Prophet's Song" where Mercury backed his own voice using a delay machine.
    • All vocals on "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" and "Love of My Life" were by Freddie, from those in the low register to the high falsetto parts. Brian sang everything on "Good Company".
    • The "Bohemian Rhapsody" intro is just eight Freddies stacked atop one another, as are other bits of the song (e.g., "anyway the wind blows" before the solo). In fact, this is the sole reason why Queen never performed the full song live, only select parts of it - for instance, on Live Killers, the intro is replaced with Freddie singing a section of "Mustapha" acapella, while the section that starts "I see a little silhouetto of a man" is playback from the studio recording pumped into the arena as the audience sings along.
    • Freddie and Roger contributed backing vocals on parts of "'39", but the resolutions of each chorus (e.g., "all your letters in the sand cannot heal me like your hand, for my life's still ahead, pity me") are just Brian plus Brian plus Brian, including the falsetto part.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The description of Time Dilation in "'39" is spot-on. Brian May has since earned a PhD in astrophysics and had already studied the subject in quite some detail before even forming Queen.
  • Singer Name Drop: The Brian May-sung "Good Company" features an offhanded reference to how the narrator's father called him "Baby B" as a kid.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
  • Song Style Shift: "Bohemian Rhapsody" goes through several: acapella, Lonely Piano Piece, opera, Hard Rock, and finally back to a Lonely Piano Piece. "The Prophet's Song" is a hard rock song with an extended A Cappella section in the middle, where Freddie goes crazy with the studio overdubs.
  • Space Is an Ocean: "'39" is about a space voyage, but leans so hard into nautical metaphors that it's a borderline Tomato Surprise when Time Dilation comes up.
    And the night followed day
    And the story tellers say
    That the score brave souls inside
    For many a lonely day
    sailed across the milky seas
    Ne'er looked back, never feared, never cried
  • Stealth Pun: From "Good Company", "The reward of my own efforts, my own limited company" could refer both to the protagonist's lack of friends and the legal institution of a limited company (in which the liability of members or subscribers is limited to what they have invested or guaranteed to the company).
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Roger Taylor sings lead on "I'm in Love with My Car". Brian May sings lead on "'39" and "Good Company".
  • Stock Sound Effects: "I'm in Love with My Car" ends with car noises (which instead start the song in the single version).
  • A Storm Is Coming: "The Prophet's Song", based on the Biblical story of Noah.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The second verse of "Good Company" juxtaposes the lines "my very good friends and me" and "won't you keep me company?" with "the girl from number four" (deliberately avoiding the obvious rhyme of "the girl from number three")
  • Sunday is Boring: "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" is a "Days of the Week" Song that details what the singer will do for every day of the week. Naturally, as the title suggests, they'll be lazing instead of doing something.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • "Death on Two Legs" is mostly in Common Time, but the band skips beats wherever it fits the rhythm of the music or lyrics better, meaning that there are scattered measures of 3/4 or 2/4 thrown in.
    • The operatic segment of "Bohemian Rhapsody" has some segments with polyrhythms, using 4/4 over 12/8.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Without an understanding of the Time Dilation effect of Einstein's theory of special relativity, the lyrics of "'39" probably won't make a lick of sense.
  • Villain Protagonist: The narrator of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a self-confessed murderer.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: "Seaside Rendezvous" evokes images of an old-fashioned beach visit near the seaside.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Freddie once openly admitted that "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s lyrics have no real meaning to them.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: "Good Company" is about an ambitious young businessman whose wife leaves him and takes the kids because he's never home. There's a double meaning to his being rewarded with "my own limited company".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "'39" is a subversion: it seems like a case of this, but it's actually a case of Viewers Are Geniuses, describing the effects of Time Dilation in Einstein's special theory of relativity on a group of spacefaring explorers who leave on a voyage that, from their perspective, lasts a year. However, when they return, they find that a hundred years have passed on Earth, and everyone they ever knew or loved here is either dead or massively aged. Brian May, as mentioned, has a PhD in astrophysics and had already studied the subject before forming Queen.

Alternative Title(s): A Night At The Opera