The Prophet's Song (8:21)

Cover of A Night at the Opera

From A Night at the Opera and 7 other releases

“The Prophet’s Song” was composed by Brian May. On the show In the Studio with Redbeard, which spotlighted A Night at the Opera, May explained that he wrote the song after a dream he’d had while he was recovering from falling seriously ill while recording Queen’s 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack and is the source of some of the lyrics. He spent several days putting it together, and it includes a vocal canon sung first by Freddie Mercury, then by Mercury, Roger Taylor and May. The vocal, and later instrumental canon was produced by early tape delay devices. It is a heavy and dark number with a strong progressive rock influence. At over eight minutes in length, is also Queen’s longest song (Not counting the untitled instrumental track on Made in Heaven).

As detailed by Brian May in a documentary about this album, the speed-up effect that happens in the middle of the guitar solo was achieved by starting a reel-to-reel player with the tape on it, as the original tape player was stopped.

The dream he had was about The Great Flood, and lyrics have references from the Bible and the Noah’s Ark account.

In an interview held in 1975, May elaborated on writing the song:

“I had a dream about what seemed like revenge on people, and I couldn’t really work out in the dream what it was that people had done wrong. It was something like a flood. Things had gone much too far and as a kind of reparation, the whole thing had to start again.

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