April 16, 2014

Bohemian Rhapsody

czech-weddingIt’s spring, and that means it’s wedding season. I love going to weddings. It’s always a pleasure to see two people who love each other join their lives together. It’s romantic. It’s inspiring. It’s beautiful.

There’s just one weird thing, however, about going to weddings in this country. It’s the music. One song in particular.

I’ve gone to a lot of weddings at various city halls throughout Prague, and it seems as if among their choices of music, every single one of them offers the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the rock group Queen. And my friends who have gotten married have often chosen that song for their ceremony.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Queen was a great band. No question about that. Freddie Mercury was amazing. I’m also sure that Czech people are proud of the fact that one of Queen’s biggest hits has the name Bohemia in its title. Plus, a song with the word “rhapsody” it its title does seem like it would be appropriate for such a joyous occasion. It’s just that I suspect that my Czech friends who have chosen this song for their most important day may not be totally familiar with the meaning of the song’s English lyrics.

I remember the first time I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” played at a Czech wedding. It was right at the moment when the couple had just taken their vows and were ready for their first kiss as newlyweds. They looked into each other’s eyes with love as Freddie Mercury sang:

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

How romantic. The couple kissed, and then they turned to face their family and friends with happy smiles on both of their faces as Freddie continued:

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, ooh, I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all

Now, I admit that at this point I was having a bit of a hard time keeping a straight face. I may even have been giggling, because my Czech wife, who also didn’t understand English very well back in those days, jabbed her elbow into my side and whispered, “Stop that! It’s a wedding! What’s so funny? Are you high?” I couldn’t explain. I was too busy looking at the happy couple and listening to Freddie:

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we 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

Of course, I was thinking to myself: “Let me go? But you just got married!” Then, as the wedding audience applauded, the couple once again turned to each other for a loving embrace at the altar and Freddie began screaming:

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

That is exactly what I was thinking. I had to get out of that wedding before I collapsed on the floor with laughter. Fortunately, after one more rigorous guitar riff by the band, the song was nearly at its end. All that remained were the final words of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which truly capture the essential spirit of a couple pledging their undying lifelong devotion to each other:

Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters
To me

Beautiful, eh? Would you like a tissue?

Seriously, to all Czech lovers who are planning their wedding day and who really like songs by Queen, can I make a suggestion? Instead of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” consider “I Was Born to Love You” or “Love of My Life” or “You Take My Breath Away.” They’re really much more appropriate.

And to all those who are planning on attending someone’s wedding, I also have a recommendation. Don’t get high before you go. It really isn’t a good idea.


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