Song Meaning The Show Must Go On – Queen

Queen’s last studio album released during Freddie Mercury’s lifetime was Innuendo. While working on the record, the health of the lead singer of the group, who was ill with AIDS, was rapidly deteriorating, and he realized that he did not have long to live.

Perhaps it was the premonition of imminent death that allowed him to perform the song The Show Must Go On (“The Show Must Go On”), which ends Innuendo, so soulfully.

History and meaning of The Show Must Go On

The composition began with a chord progression composed by Roger Taylor and John Deacon. The bulk of the text was written by Brian May, although Freddie Mercury was also involved in this process.

Here is how May described the history of the creation of the song:

The Show Must Go On came about after Roger and John played the sequence and I started working on it. In the beginning, it was just a progression of chords, but I got a strange feeling that it could become something important. I was seized by a real passion, so I went and diligently took up it. We sat down with Freddie, decided what the theme should be, and wrote the first verse. This song has a long history, but I always felt that it would be important because we were dealing with something that was hard to talk about at the time, but in the world of music you could do it.

Brian May, 1994

The text of the composition contains many figurative expressions, which is why the meaning of many lines can be interpreted in different ways. As a rule, music lovers who know the history of the creation of the composition are sure that Freddie sang about personal suffering.

What do you think the song The Show Must Go On is about? Share your opinions about the main idea of ​​the work in the comments.

Recording and release

During the recording of The Show Must Go On, Mercury felt so bad that Brian May doubted that he was capable of singing the song properly. In response, Freddie, after drinking a glass of vodka, allegedly said: “I’ll fucking do it, dear,” after which he brilliantly performed the vocal part on the first attempt.

Recalling those events, Brian May said:

… he went and finished her off, literally tore the song to shreds.

The Show Must Go On was not released as a single from the Innuendo album. It wasn’t until late 1991, a few weeks after Mercury’s death, that Queen decided to release a Greatest Hits II compilation.

Videoclip of The Show Must Go On

Mercury’s health condition did not allow filming a new video for The Show Must Go On, so the video includes excerpts from several Queen videos for other songs.

Interesting Facts

  • Queen’s Greatest Hits III includes a version of The Show Must Go On featuring Elton John on vocals.
  • A very unusual version of The Show Must Go On sounds in the film “Moulin Rouge” directed by Baz Luhrmann.
  • In 2005, Music Choice asked more than 45,000 Europeans what song they would like to play at their own funeral. The Show Must Go On won by a significant margin.

The Show Must Go On Lyrics

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 anyone want to take it anymore?

The show must go on!
The show must go on!
Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile, still, stays on!

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!

The show must go on!
The show must go on!
Oh! Inside my heart is breaking!
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile still stays on!

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

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

The Show Must Go On Lyrics

Empty spaces – what do we live for?
Abandoned places – I think we know the score
More and more
Does anyone know what we are looking for?
Another hero, another senseless crime
Behind the scenes, in pantomime
Keep in formation!
Does anyone else want to endure this?

Show must go on!
Show must go on!
My heart is torn apart
My makeup may peel off
But the smile never left my face!

Whatever happens, I’ll leave everything at the mercy of fortune
Another heartache – another failed romance
More and more
Does anyone know what we live for?
I think I recognize
Now I must be more gentle
Soon I’ll turn the corner
Outside it starts to get light
But it’s dark inside and I’m passionately trying to get free

Show must go on!
Show must go on!
My heart is torn apart
My makeup may peel off
But the smile never left my face!

My soul is colored like butterfly wings
Tales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly, friends!

Show must go on!
Show must go on!
I will accept it with a smile!
I never give up!
I continue to participate in the show!

Song quote

For me, the most autobiographical line is: “My makeup may crumble, but the smile does not leave my face.” It was true. As bad as Freddie felt, he never grumbled at anyone or sought sympathy. It was his fight, not anyone else’s, and he always held his own, although he was getting worse.

Jim Hutton

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