LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Reflecting on Queen’s “I Want to Break Free,” the bishop of Northampton says the 1984 rock song concerns “some fundamental features of the human condition; feeling trapped, loneliness, freedom and love.”
Bishop David Oakley was a guest on OJ Borg’s midnight show to “Pause for Thought” on BBC Radio 2, which was marking what would have been the 75th birthday of Queen’s lead singer. Freddie Mercury.
Mercury – born Farrokh Bulsara – was a member of the Zoroastrian religious community.
The singer, who was born on Sept. 5, 1946, died of AIDS in 1991.
“Honestly, I can’t claim to have been a massive fan of Queen, but even I could hum along to the iconic song, ‘I Want to Break Free.’ I’ll spare you my bath-time rendition of it, but ask this question, what’s the song about?” Oakley asked.
“You can look at this from a number of perspectives, but it certainly seems to concern some fundamental features of the human condition; feeling trapped, loneliness, freedom and love,” the bishop said.
The song is from Queen’s eleventh studio album The Works, and was written by Queen’s bass player, John Deacon.
“I Want to Break Free” is about a person trying to get out of a relationship, but it was embraced by protestors living under oppressive regimes in the 1980s.
However, Oakley said the lyrics also had deeper meaning.
“Now over the years, I’ve looked at quite a few religious traditions and philosophical systems, meaning of life stuff if you will, and it seems to me that breaking free is part of every human narrative,” he said, inviting radio listeners to imagine listening to the song “with the backdrop of recent news scenes from Kabul airport.”
However, the bishop went on to say that “breaking free from lies” – a lyric of the song – is one thing, “but… what comes next? What makes me the authentic person I want to become?”
“I’ve spent my life trying to understand what might follow after breaking free from the pressures which threaten to overwhelm us,” he said.
“Five times, Freddie Mercury sings, ‘God knows’. Actually, I think that’s really true, and what makes life free and exciting for me is when I can begin to trust those words,” concluded Oakley’s reflection.
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