Living with…Guns N’ Roses…for a week
Whatever happened to the Likely Lads?
After all these years Axl and Slash get together to reminisce…
It is a cold wet November evening in Stoke-on-Trent, scene of Slash’s childhood and a neutral place to meet. Two men in overcoats drawn up against the wind and rain are walking towards a pub from opposite ends of the street. One is wearing a top hat.
They enter the pub from different doors. It is empty barring a few old men chatting in the corner. The barman looks up and does a douible-take. Is that Axl Rose and Slash standing by his bar? The jukebox is blaring a metal track.
Welcome to the jungle
We got fun ‘n’ games
We got evrything you want
They glance around the bar. No fun ‘n’ games here. Thenat each other other but no words are spoken as they walk to the bar. Separately, they order their drinks. A pint of bitter. A pint of mild. The barman is dying to ask a question but daren’t. It is awkward.
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees
It’s gonna bring you down
As they sit down with their pints, they look at each other. They haven’t spoken in 15 years.
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain
We’ve been through this such a long long time
Just tryin’ to kill the pain
They’re both thinking. Last time they spoke Axl called Slash a cancer.
Axl struggled with Slash’s drug taking. Slash struggled with Axl’s controlling paranoia. The awkward silence continues.
They’re out ta get me
They won’t catch me
So you can
Take that one to heart
Neither knows how to move this on…they’re in a pub in Stoke on a cold winter’s evening with years of silence between them.
The barman hesitates. Neither has touched their beer. They just look at each other thinking. Something has to be done.
Where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home
At that, a slight smile plays across Axl’s face and he raises his bitter slowly and nods. Slash nods back and raising his glass they sip slowly at the head of their pints.
“Now, when I said cancer, what I really meant….”
[with apologies to all concerned, it seemed a good idea at the time.
W Axl Rose was played by himself
Slash was played by himself
The barman was played by himself
The jukebox was played by itself, the tracks in the following order: Welcome to the Jungle (x2), November Rain, Outta Get Me, Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City]
Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Guns N’ Roses are teenage legs astride air guitar music. The stuff of dreams with soaring guitar solos and screaming lyrics. And for many years, like most I could keep that dream going that I could do that. I could perform that ultimate guitar solo. And then came along Guitar Hero and I could no longer fool anyone.
The persistent booing off the stage made sure of that. Not even the simplest number. No Sweet Guitar of Mine. More like Welcome to the Bungle. And so with the ultimate guitar posing game came the ultimate realisation that I was never to be that rock lead guitarist. Fortunately it was well spaced out from the realisation that I was never to be a First Division footballer – that came when I was about eleven.
I’ll be honest. I sold my copies of Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion I & II a few years back when eBay first came along. In my desire to clear out some CDs and get a few quid in they seemed easy pickings. I’d enjoyed them at the time, but I didn’t need Guns ‘n’ Roses any more, did I? They’d been free at the time anyway (see Nirvana). However having sold 28 million copies of this album, I didn’t get much. No rarity value.
And to be honest, I haven’t really missed them in the last 10 years. The brief foray in to Guitar Hero only cemented that feeling I had moved on. But then last week, I felt a twinge to go back to the sheer OTT excesses of Appetite for Destruction. The three classic singles Sweet Child o Mine, Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle are brilliant metal fun. It’s the little moments that make them live. The whistle 01:19 in to Paradise City that kicks off a guitar frenzy, and then the change of pace at the end. The primeval Huh! at the end of Welcome to the Jungle. The simple opening and soaring guitar solo at the end of Sweet Child o Mine. To coin a phrase, these guys were rocking.
And the lyrics ain’t bad either. Mr Brownstone doesn’t hold back it’s punches when dealing with drugs. Michelle wanted someone to write a song about her, and got so much more than she bargained for with My Michelle. For all the bad boy image with everything from the artwork of their albums to the behaviour of the band, they still wrote a good rock track in those early days. So good to go back.
I will have one rant though, away from this album. What ever happened when they made November Rain? This is my least favourite GnR track. The word excess was invented for songs such as these – it’s long and bloated at six minutes – and then they have to go off on one for a further three, rambling over some further guitar frenzy. Did they think they were trying to do Stairway to Heaven? I’m sorry boys, you’re more readily drifting in to Meat Loaf territory…
For video of the week, live Paradise City of course. Takes us to a city of tight white trousers, bandanas and some lovely lovely hair. Rock on.
Twotes of the week
@MirrorFootball: Explanation from John Terry: “It got big laughs when Basil Fawlty did it to a bloke from Barcelona…”
@NickMotown: Bible Fact: The Book of Genesis actually contains the line “..the lead singer will leaveth and the drummer will becometh the lead singer..”
@MrsStephenFry: Just looked out of the bedroom window – the weather doesn’t seem to have improved.