Freddie Mercurywrote the lyrics, and there has been a lot of speculation as to their meaning. Many of the words appear in the Qu’ran. “Bismillah” is one of these and it literally means “In the name of Allah.” The word “Scaramouch” means “A stock character that appears as a boastful coward.” “Beelzebub” is one of the many names given to The Devil.Mercury’s parents were deeply involved in Zoroastrianism, and these Arabic words do have a meaning in that religion. His family grew up in Zanzibar, but was forced out by government upheaval in 1964 and they moved to England. Some of the lyrics could be about leaving his homeland behind. Mercury claimed the lyrics were nothing more than “Random rhyming nonsense” when asked about it by his friend Kenny Everett, who was a London DJ. (thanks, Jonathon – Clermont, FL and Jonathan Horgan – Cork, Ireland)
Mercury may have written “Galileo” into the lyrics for the benefit of Brian May, who is an astronomy buff. Galileo is a famous astronomer known for being the first to use a refracting telescope.
The backing track came together quickly, but Queen spent days overdubbing the vocals in the studio using a 24 track tape machine. By the time they were done, about 120 vocal tracks were layered together. According to Rolling Stone magazine in their list of the top 500 songs, Brian May said that everyone in the band was bewildered when Mercury brought them a draft of this four-part suite – even before he told them, “That’s where the operatic bits come in!” The analog recording technology was taxed by the song’s multitracked scaramouches and fandangos. (thanks, James – Vancouver, Canada)