Queen – “We Will Rock You” (2)

mother and child
Alice Schille – 1916 – Porto Rican Mother and Child

“We Will Rock You” has often been assimilated to a song of rebellion, but it has a rather melancholy content about the futility of man: it tells the life of a boy who dreams of a better life. He becomes a rebellious young man battling to reach lofty goals but in reality without a specific purpose. The song ends with an old poor man, who is defeated, full of unfulfilled desires and regrets.

May was inspired by a popular Czech lullaby in which parents promise a child, “We will rock you, rock you” to sleep, meaning “we will lull you”.
For others the refrain means “we will shake you”.

Verse 1

Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise
Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday
You got mud on your face, you big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place, singin’

Here the speaker addresses to a boy, just a kid, who enjoys playing in the mud or making noise around the neighbourhood by kicking a can, which can annoy everybody. But “kicking the can down the road” may also mean the act of delaying a decision hoping that the problem will disappear. The character in this song seems going to experience some trouble later in life, so this could be a sort of prediction

Chorus

We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

The refrain is the translation of a lullaby in the Czech language, meaning “we will cradle you”. According to some, the song is about how society disdains people and tries to control them: the main character is always considered “a disgrace”, society will dominate him, preventing him from fulfilling his dreams.

Verse 2

Buddy, you’re a young man, hard man
Shouting in the street, gonna take on the world someday
You got blood on your face, you big disgrace
Waving your banner all over the place

The second verse deals with the boy’s growing up: he has become a “hard man” who, instead of playing in the street, shouts to attract attention. He is a rebellious adult and spends his time violently, taking part in protest rallies. Thus, the blood on his face, (which may alternatively be a metaphor for his disregard for the rights of others while looking for material success).

Verse 3

Buddy, you’re an old man, poor man
Pleading with your eyes, gonna get you some peace someday
You got mud on your face, big disgrace
Somebody better put you back into your place, do it!

Now the boy has grown old, and has done nothing with life, he has wasted his time and has no money. He is obliged to plead with his eyes begging for money in the streets, and the blood on his face has reverted to mud. The situation has sadly become the same as it was at the beginning, and the protagonist has developed into a disillusioned, tired old man only seeking peace.

The words buddy and big disgrace are repeated in all stanzas: the protagonist (buddy) is always a big source of shame, a disgrace to other people –

10 thoughts on “Queen – “We Will Rock You” (2)

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