There is little doubt that one of the most dynamic rock groups to ever perform is Queen. Whether you are a fan or not, you can’t argue the fact that the group created a very special niche within the annals of rock and roll history. As such, they had a dramatic influence on the way that music sounded. They continue to have an influence on it, even today. However, they did seem to have a habit for writing songs that left fans wondering what it was all about. One of those songs was entitled ‘Tie Your Mother Down’. For years, dedicated and casual fans alike have wondered about the meaning behind this particular song. As it turns out, it’s not nearly as sordid as some people might think. In fact, you can learn more about the song’s meaning straight from the group’s guitarist, Brian May.
A Moment of Sheer Inspiration
As it turns out, May you should know because he’s the one that wrote the guitar riff for the song in the first place. He wasn’t even with the other members of the band when it happened. Instead, he was staying at his place in Tenerife, studying for his master’s degree. Late one night, he was laying in bed going over the details of one of his assignments when a particular guitar riff suddenly popped into his head. He immediately got up and started playing it. Before he knew it, he had been playing that same riff for hours. He had the entire piece down as far as playing the guitar went, but he couldn’t come up with any words except for just a few- tie your mother down. He thought it was absurd, but those were the words that popped into his head. It wasn’t that he had tried to force anything, it just happened.
Being With the Band
When he got back with them, he started telling frontman Freddie Mercury about this magnificent guitar riff he had thought of. He also told him that he couldn’t come up with any words except for “tie your mother down.” May says that he told Mercury that there was no way they could possibly use those words in a song because it was just wrong to do so. He also claims that Mercury responded with, “yes we can,” and then proceeded to do exactly that. Before he knew it, the song was finished, lyrics and all and he was performing it live on stage. Although he admits that he wasn’t crazy about the title or the lyrics, at least initially, he eventually came to understand the inspiration that had struck him that night in Tenerife.
What Does It Mean?
So, what does it all mean? It all comes back to a story that May had thought of about a young boy who is in love with a girl. In the story, the boy desperately wants to date this girl and get to know her better, yet his every move is thwarted by the girl’s parents. This is where the lyrics, tie your mother down, came from. It was all about a girl who has an overbearing mother. The mother doesn’t approve of the boy. While the lyrics were never meant in a literal sense, it was more out of the frustration that virtually every young man feels when he starts dating the woman of his dreams, only to find out that mother doesn’t approve and won’t allow her daughter to have anything to do with him. The desire to tie her down, or get her out of the way temporarily, is where this song stemmed from. May has always been quick to point out that it was all figurative and written in a sort of fairytale manner, but nevertheless, this was the inspiration for the song. He also admits that even he didn’t fully understand the inspiration when the words first popped into his head. He just knew they were there and he could hear that riff playing in his head as clearly as if he were listening to it on the radio. It took him a while to work through it all, and he’s always been quite open about that fact.
A Major Question Answered for Fans
At least in this particular instance, a major question about some of the songs performed by Queen has been answered. The mystery is solved. Fans no longer have to obsess over what these lyrics mean or why they were written in the first place. If you enjoy trying to sort out that type of thing, no worries. Queen has plenty of other songs that you can spend your time trying to figure out. However, the story behind this particular song is actually more interesting than the lyrics themselves, now that you know what that story actually entails. Thankfully, Brian May has cleared up all the speculation surrounding this particular song. Freddie Mercury may have taken this secret (and a few others) to his grave, but May was able to clear this question up quite well, given the fact that he was the one responsible for creating the song in the first place.
It’s almost funny that fans have spent countless numbers of hours thinking of one scenario after another for years regarding the lyrics to this song. They’ve wondered how it ended up with that title. Furthermore, they wondered what the lyrics actually mean or how they came to be in that song to begin with. Many of them have openly wondered if there was a massive bender that was going on at the time that the song was written because as far as they were concerned, it just didn’t make any sense. The truth behind it all is not nearly as scandalous as that. It really did come down to one person who was studying an impossibly difficult astrophysics program in college and needed a break. As he took that break, both the guitar riff and the title popped into his head. The rest, as they say, is history.