Guns N’ Roses
erupted like an atom bomb over a barren wasteland. In 1987, when they appeared virtually out of nowhere, they instantly and forever changed the way that music would, and could, sound. Until guns N’ Roses, hard rock/heavy metal had certain characteristics. It was either dark and dangerous like the originators from the 1970’s (Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly), or it was hard and glam like the contemporaries of the 1980’s (Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue). When Guns N’ Roses exploded, they gave birth to a combination of the two. They were one part rough and tough like Black Sabbath and Ozzy, and one part stylistic and crafted like Bon Jovi
and Def Leppard. They toed the line between both and did it with heavier riffs, more melodic solos and harmonies, and as much passion and energy as anybody. With only four albums of relevance (Appetite For Destruction, Lies, Use Your Illusion 1+2), they don’t have the largest catalog from which to chose. But what they lacked in total albums, they made up for in total number of excellent songs. Nearly every song on every album is a classic, so here are my choices for the Top Ten Songs by Guns N’ Roses. (After the song, in parenthesis, I will include the album where the song originally appeared.)
#10) You Could Be Mine (Use Your Illusion II). I don’t care what anybody says, this song rocks as hard as anything that Guns N’ Roses has ever done. Some people may not agree with me. Some people don’t care for it. I say that you should just open your ears. The song was included in Terminator 2 because Arnold Schwarzenegger is a huge Guns N’ Roses fan and he personally asked them to record a song for the movie. That’s quite the mix. This is just good old fashioned rock and roll at its most pure form.
#9) Locomotive (Use Your Illusion II). As a guitar player myself, the riff from this song is one of the fastest and hardest that I’ve ever attempted. To see Slash play this song, in person, would be a musical religious experience. This song is so good that it makes my fingers bleed just when I hear it, let alone play it. It is a true hidden gem in the Guns N’ Roses catalog.
#8) Don’t Cry (Use Your Illusion I). Here are a few reasons why I chose this song. This song had two versions. One each appeared on each of the Illusion albums. The song also features the late great Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon on backup vocals. It has one of the best guitar solos that Slash has ever done. It is dark and mysterious despite being brutally straightforward and to the point. It is as close to a power ballad as the 1990’s had to offer. It is chill inducing. Axl’s closing whine of “toniiiiiiight” will move you every time.
#7) Welcome To The Jungle (Appetite For Destruction). This is Guns N’ Roses signature song. It is the song that launched them into the collective minds and eardrums of America. It is as much a kick-a** song as anything ever recorded. The intro will go down as not only Guns N’ Roses’ best, but as one of the best openings of all-time. This song is not just a favorite of Guns N’ Roses fans, or of metal fans, but it has transcended into the mainstream. Everybody loves this song.
#6) Sweet Child O’ Mine (Appetite For Destruction). Slash never really liked this song. He thought it was too sappy. Sappy or not, this is perhaps the quintessential 1980’s power ballad. There is not a single wrong note in the song. The solo is one of the greatest ever. Slash makes excellent use of the wah-wah pedal. Axl’s voice is at its gravely best. How can a song about love be as hard as this? I don’t know but it is beautiful…and manly. This is absolute perfection in the realm of all things Guns N’ Roses.
#5) Coma (Use Your Illusion I). This epic song closed the first Illusion album. It is about 15 minutes long and it is the reason why the Illusion albums releases were delayed for many months back in 1991; Guns N’ Roses just weren’t satisfied with the way it sounded. I am so glad that they kept tweaking it because the end result is one of the most finely crafted pieces of music that they ever recorded. The production level of this song is so far and away from anything else they’ve done. There is just so much going on in this song.
#4) Estranged (Use Your Illusion II). This may be Guns N’ Roses most beautiful song. The melodic flowings on Estranged come out of left field. Sure, Guns N’ Roses are known for their melody, but nothing compared me for what I heard on this song. Slash is also at his absolute finest on Estranged; and that is saying a lot. There is just so much raw emotion to experience that this song never gets old. It is the one Guns N’ Roses song that all casual Guns N’ Roses fans must hear. All fans of rock and roll must hear this song. Also, it is one of my top five favorite guitar solos of all-time (not quite Freebird, but close).
#3) Patience (Lies). This song was a complete 180 degree change from the hard-hitting debut album Appetite For Destruction. This song is all about as cool, calm, and relaxed as anything Guns N’ Roses could deliver. It is them stripped down and unplugged at the finest. Plus, if you can play guitar, learn the rhythm chords to Patience, it will impress the ladies every time, and so much more than John Mayer junk could ever do.
#2) Paradise City (Appetite For Destruction). What can I say about Paradise City that hasn’t already been said? It was recently voted one of the 5 best guitar solos of all-time. It is arena rock to the next level and for the next millennium. It is comparable, for Guns N’ Roses, to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird or U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name. It is a song that is almost bigger than the band itself. There is not a band out there today that could ever compose a song with as much power and energy as Guns N’ Roses did with Paradise City. They just don’t write them like this anymore.
Nine songs down and one left. This list was much tougher than I thought it would be. This isn’t my original draft of the list. The original included the songs Used To Love Her and Rocket Queen. When I got down to the top five, I realized that there were other songs that just had to be included. Like I said above, even though Guns N’ Roses only released four albums of significance, they have dozens of great songs. With that in mind, my choice for the best Guns N’ Roses song ever is…
#1) November Rain (Use Your Illusion I). Hands down, November Rain is the best Guns N’ Roses song ever. It is one of my ten favorite songs ever. It gets better each time I hear it, and I’ve listened to it about 50,000 times. It has not one, but two extended guitar solos. The second solo is my favorite guitar solo of all-time that is performed by one musician (Freebird is done by 3 guys simultaneously). The video even adds to its greatness value. When Slash walks out of the church and plays the first solo on a cliff’s edge, awesome. The second solo, in the video, when Slash climbs onto the piano, is one of the most memorable moments in MTV history. Guns N’ Roses definitely made a deal with somebody to craft a masterpiece like this. I love this song, I love this song, I love this song. ‘Nuff said.