“The Show Must Go On” – Analysis

(flickr: kentarotakizawa)

➡️ Here you can find music and lyrics: ➡️ Freddie Mercury’s Birthday


Death is inevitable, but people have to power through until the end, even when it is difficult. The show, used to symbolize life in general, has to be enjoyed while it is still possible to get the most out of it, and continued in a strong and determined way by those who remain, who must try to move on.


Empty spaces, what are we living for?
Abandoned places, I guess we know the score, on and on
Does anybody know what we are looking for?
Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain, in the pantomime
Hold the line
Does anybody want to take it anymore?

The singer asks questions about the purpose of life and laments that it often seems meaningless and empty. But luckily heroes and their exploits can give people a reason to go on.
The use of theatrical imagery also helps to suggest how difficult it is to always live in the public eye as a star while concealing one’s problems and trials


The show must go on
The show must go on, yeah
Inside my heart is breaking
My makeup may be flaking
But my smile, still, stays on

“The show must go on is a well-known phrase in show business, meaning that whatever has been planned or scheduled must be carried out, no matter what unfortunate event has occurred. It was first coined by a circus in the late 1800s and then used by other circuses, when there was an incident, trying to keep the public calm and reassured.

The chorus stresses the need to continue with life: the singer seems to be accepting his role and obligations even though he is dying of AIDS. A reference to the disease can be seen in the mention of makeup, which is flaking under the spotlight, as AIDS victims often use makeup to cover their body lesions.

Through these words Brian May, the songwriter, acknowledges the bravery and perseverance of his friend, who is continuing to show dedication to music despite his illness and his vanishing strength. Brian wrote the song from Freddie’s perspective, so as to give him the opportunity to handle his emotions without having to express them openly.
Mercury knew he was dying and was fully aware that his physical appearance was changing but he fought up to the very end: he didn’t want to give up and had to continue his battle. He could barely walk, when the band recorded the song in 1990 and he was conscious that he was close to death.


Whatever happens, I’ll leave it all to chance
Another heartache, another failed romance, on and on
Does anybody know what we are living for?
I guess I’m learning
I must be warmer now
I’ll soon be turning, round the corner now
Outside the dawn is breaking
But inside in the dark I’m aching to be free

In the second verse he continues to express the need to hide his problems from the public, as well as his shyness and insecurities He once said of himself: “When I’m performing, I’m an extrovert, yet inside I’m a completely different man”

The dark inside him is the feeling of disquiet and frustration, the awareness that, while life goes on normally for everyone else, he has to struggle with his illness, his demons, his fears. Death is approaching and yet he must not stop fighting


My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairy tales of yesterday, grow but never die
I can fly, my friends

These lines outline how his soul is unique, splendid in its beauty, and able to allow him to perform great deeds.


The show must go on
I’ll face it with a grin
I’m never giving in
On with the show


I’ll top the bill
I’ll overkill
I have to find the will to carry on
On with the show

In the end the singer cries out his desire to do anything to be able to go on so as not to disappoint his audience,

To “top the bill” shows his desire to continue tobe the main performer (the one whose name is featured at the top of the theatrical bill). To “overkill”, which means to destroy something with more force than necessary or appropriate, suggests that he will perform in an excessive way, and underlines his flamboyant stage personality.
As regards the following line I have to find the will to carry on”, it represents the viewpoint of Brian May and the rest of the band who have to find the determination to carry on after Mercury’s death so as to honor his memory as well as possible. Brian, who wrote the track, has spoken numerous times of his admiration for Freddie’s undeniable strength and bravery through it all.
Freddie could have easily given up on music, as his health was rapidly deteriorating but his true passion for life and work pushed him to carry on, no matter how hard things were becoming.

Since his death this song, which is a compellingly powerful final coda to his legacy, has become a symbol for Mercury.
The Show Must Go On” is the final track on Queen’s last album (Innuendo) released during Freddie’s lifetime.

24 thoughts on ““The Show Must Go On” – Analysis

  1. “The Show Must Go On” lascia indubbiamente un forte messaggio di immortalità❤… è bella la tua analisi, profonda… non avevo mai riflettuto così su questo pezzo, anche se trovo sia uno dei più significativi… penso lo stesso, le nostre vite sono brevi, ed è come una catena, un’eredità, i messaggi di incoraggiamento e gli insegnamenti che chi lascia se ne va… è così che si rimane immortali, in qualche modo… di sicuro Freddie Mercury c’è riuscito🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ricordo ancora alcune vecchiette dalle quali mia madre quando ero piccola mi mandava a portare del cibo per il pranzo perché loro non si cucinavano più niente.Andavo poco volentieri perché mi bloccavano e mi raccontavano parabole incomprensibili e racconti in cui si scendevano lunghe scale buie per andare all’inferno e invece si salivano lunghe scale illuminate per andare in paradiso. A volte penso che ormai sono una delle poche persone che si ricordano di loro e delle loro storie ma in fondo forse anche il mio ricordo le sta tenendo in qualche modo in vita.


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