The eternal British Rock band Queen became one of the best live entertainers in the game courtesy of songs like “Hammer to Fall.” The fast-paced and high-energy songs and performances, matched with the lead singer Freddie Mercury’s charm was undisputable.
“Hammer to Fall” is the fourth and final single off of the 1984 album ‘The Works.’ This eleventh album by Queen was a major success for the band with mega-hits such as “Radio Ga Ga,” “I Want To Break Free” and “It’s A Hard Life.”
For the longest time, there was an ongoing debate about what “Hammer to Fall” actually means. Some argued it was about death, others argued it was about stress, some others argued it talked about war. However, the songwriter Brian May of Queen finally rest all arguments to rest by confirming on his website that the song “is really about life and death, and being aware of death as being part of life.”
Watch Queen Perform “Hammer to Fall” Live at Wembley Stadium in 1986
Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Hammer to Fall”
We, humans, come from a long lineage of humans. But how far back do we remember a person? Most likely not two generations before us. People come and go. Only a handful of people out of billions have retained their names in the history books. ‘History’ would not care what kind of person we are, we will be a name lost in the volumes and volumes of its countless pages.
Lady Mercy is a reference to Virgin Mary, who is often portrayed as to be sheltering people under her cloak. The singer says Lady Mercy will not be there with you forever.
Death is the only constant in the human life. It is only a matter of time, and we are running out of time every passing second. So, it is up to you to live it to the fullest. Just don’t waste any time of it. We are all facing the same fate from the second we are born to this world.
In the second verse of “Hammer to Fall,” the singer explains how we are trying to prolong the inevitable. Every day and night, we wither away into non-existence. But we do entertain very temporary fixes such as plastic surgey, medications and hitting the gym to look good. The ‘western way’ is leaning towards the materialistic world. It encourages investing in looks, fun, and temporary fixes. This does not last and is no solution to the impending doom. The ‘eastern way’ usually focused more on developing spirituality of the humans. Eeven this was no fix for the impending death. But it helped in having a clean slate when we do leave this world.
These lyrics are one of the main reasons why a faction of fans believed that “Hammer to Fall” is about war. These lyrics indicate being called to action–which back in the day meant to be a call of duty. And war usually meant the hammers falling on many innocent, while others play their game.
In these lines, Queen assures that death is a common factor for all of us. You might be rich, poor, famous, average, smart or a president, but when the time comes, you have to go. There is no hiding from the hammer.
Brian May wrote these lyrics inspired from his personal struggles;
“The mushroom cloud thing was for me very real part of my childhood trough the Cuba crisis. We thought the bomb was about to drop, and I used to have dreams about that.”
Humans are a smart and proud and dumb group of beings. We reach for the stars, trying to ignore that our time is very limited on earth. We want to conquer everything and make everybody bow to our whim, but in 60 years we will be soil.
‘Mushroom Cloud’ is also a symbol of the smoke cloud rising from a nuclear bomb.
Queen questions why we are all at war when we have such a short time to live anyway. What are we left with when we are 10 feet underneath the soil at the end of the day?
Why are we all struggling for power and wealth, when we have to leave all of it behind one day. Why can’t we invest our time on being happy and peaceful with each other?
We have a very limited time in our lives–just enough to make friends, smile and collect good karma.
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