As you may have heard, Guns N' Roses is embarking on a stadium tour this summer. Axl, Slash, Duff, and Dizzy Reed have gotten together for the first time in 20+ years (and maybe some other GNR members may join in on the fun). Having never seen GNR back in the day, I have dreamed about this moment since I was in high school. They are coming to Soldier Field on July 1, and I may have gone a little overboard and bought a VIP package that includes front row seats. Needless to say, I'm more excited for this concert than I have been for any other concert I can remember. Now please, Axl, be cool.
In honor of this momentous occasion, I am bestowing on you my ten favorite Guns N' Roses songs. As you can tell, Appetite for Destruction is one of my favorite albums ever.
10. "Paradise City" (Appetite for Destruction)
This is a classic. That unmistakable opening riff and drum beat always puts me in a happy place. "Paradise City" is essentially two songs. The verses are fast and rough and often unintelligible, but that chorus is one of the greatest sing-along choruses in rock history. And then the last part of the song is in double time, turning into a debauched jam, and everyone gets laid. Because that, my friends, is what happens in Paradise City.
9. "Get in the Ring" (Use Your Illusion II)
If there was one thing about Axl Rose that a lot of people realized pretty quickly, it was that you should not piss him off. From showing up late for shows or throwing beer bottles at fans, he was mercurial. "Get in the Ring" is his "fuck you" to all the haters. Apparently Axl did not like the way that certain metal magazines were "rippin' off the kids," so he did what any self-respecting musician would do: challenged them all to a fight. Most prominently, he posited that Bob Guccione, Jr. of Spin (son of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, Sr.) is "pissed off 'cause [his] dad gets more pussy than [him]." Axl then invites Guccione to fuck him and suck his fuckin' dick. Interestingly, Guccione accepted Axl's invitation, although the two never actually fought, which is unfortunate because I would have liked to see Axl kick Guccione's bitchy little ass.
8. "November Rain" (Use Your Illusion I)
The last epic of the hair band era, "November Rain" is one of those songs that I just can't turn off whenever it comes on the radio or my iPod. It's GNR's "Stairway to Heaven." It starts slow and orchestral, and then builds and builds and builds until Slash is just fucking wailing out a solo as Stephanie Seymour's body is laid to rest. And on that note, let's not forget how amazing the video was.
7. "Nightrain" (Appetite for Destruction)
When I was a kid, I thought this song was about the band's journey on a very fast train. As it turns out, it's about a cheap wine that was one of the only things the band could afford to drink before they made it big. One of the highlights of my adult life is drinking Night Train while listening to "Nightrain."
6. "Yesterdays" (Use Your Illusion II)
One of the more sentimental songs in the GNR catalog, "Yesterdays" is about not looking back ("yesterday's got nothing for me"). Axl belts out the song, and you can understand why he's so adamant about forgetting his past. After all, he did grow up in Lafayette, Indiana. The stench from nearby West Lafayette must have been unbearable.
5. "Nice Boys" (G N' R Lies)
This one is off of the "live" side of Lies, and it's a cover of Australian hard rockers Rose Tattoo. (By the way, Axl Rose has a rose tattoo.) The song is all energy, culminating with the all-too-perfect chorus of "nice boys don't play rock and roll."
4. "My Michelle" (Appetite for Destruction)
As you can imagine, as a ten-year-old, hearing the first line of this song was eye opening. "Your daddy works in porno / Now that mommy's not around / She used to love her heroin / But now she's underground." I mean, holy shit. Does it get more real than that? Interestingly, "My Michelle" is based on a woman named Michelle Young that the band used to hang out with. Axl originally wrote it as a romantic song, but then decided to be honest about Michelle's life and completely changed the song into the dark and raunchy song it became.
3. "Mr. Brownstone" (Appetite for Destruction)
I used to think this was just about some dude who was lazy who had a mean landlord named Mr. Brownstone. It turns out it's about two dudes who were lazy who had a mean heroin habit. Either way, it's a badass song, and I think it is the perfect embodiment of GNR. It rocks, it's catchy, and it's about hard drugs. And even if it's about becoming a heroin addict, the song does have some of the best advice you can get: "I don't worry about nothing because worryin's a waste of my time.
2. "Used to Love Her" (G N' R Lies)
"Used to Love Her" is on the acoustic side of Lies, and it's a tongue-in-cheek, good time song about a guy who killed his woman and buried her in his back yard. Because she. Would. Not. Shut. Up. We've all been there. I've always liked this song, not only because I think it's funny and catchy, but also because it reminds me a lot of the Beach Boys' version of "Barbara Ann," where it sounds like there's just a group of guys sitting around a room, jamming, and having a good time. Of course, in lieu of playing "Al's famous ashtray," the guys from GNR were probably playing a coke mirror, but I don't think we should judge.
1. "Rocket Queen" (Appetite for Destruction)
"Rocket Queen" was, is, and will always be my favorite Guns N' Roses song. As the last song off of Appetite, it's a suitable ending to the greatest selling debut album of all-time. The song is apparently about a chick the band knew in LA, Barbi Von Greif, who wanted to form a band called Rocket Queen, and it's kind of an ode to her. What a perfect name for female '80s Sunset Strip scenester, by the way.
There are two distinct parts to the song. The first part starts off with a bang, as Steven Adler drives the song with a relentless drum beat, followed by Duff's driving bass line. Then you get that raunchy riff from Slash that repeats throughout the first part of the song, before Axl breaks in and does what Axl does. I have always loved the first lines of the chorus: "Here I am, and you're a rocket queen / I might be a little young, but honey, I ain't naïve." As a 10-year-old, I could relate –- not to the part about the rocket queen, but about being young, but not naïve, honey. Then again, I'm pretty sure Appetite for Destruction was the sole reason I was no longer naïve when I was 10 years old.
During the break, right around the 2:20 mark to the 3-minute mark, you can hear a woman moaning, which is, in fact, the sound of Steven Adler's girlfriend at the time, Adriana Smith, copulating (or pretending to copulate) while getting banged in the studio. The only problem was that it was Axl Rose, and not Steven Adler, who was banging her. Needless to say, things between Adler and Smith kind of deteriorated after that. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that things between Adler and everything deteriorated after that.
Then, around the 3:25 mark, the song kicks into the second part, which is essentially a different song, but the parts flow together quite well. The second part is a relatively touching message of hope and friendship from Axl, who explains that he'll be there for this chick whenever she needs him. "If you need a shoulder / Or if you need a friend / I'll be here standing / Until the bitter end" has to be one of the genuinely nicest and supportive lines in the Guns N' Roses catalog.