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You can have anything you want but you better not take it from me

Good morning and happy Monday to you. Today, we are going to talk about Guns N Roses. Why? Because I think this talk is long overdue. Besides, there's a great article in yesterday's New York Times: The Most Expensive Album Never Made. Ah, Chinese Democracy - the long awaited, heavily anticipated and now punch line of jokes album. The one Baseball Crank refers to as "the Waterworld of rock." At least Waterworld actually made it to the theaters.

My history with Axl and company is a long and complicated one. I imagine that most metal fans who hooked on to the early GnR bandwagon followed the same path I did. Think of the seven stages of grief in reverse. From acceptance (Appetite for Destruction = welcome to my record collection!) to denial (I swear to you I never owned The Spaghetti Incident), we watched - and in some ways participated in - the slow death of a once great band. But it wasn't their years of putting out head banging, fist pumping music that was the greatest show. No, it was watching Axl Rose trying in vain to raise the Phoenix from the ashes that offered the most jaw dropping, car-wreck kind of entertainment this side of the November Rain video.1080751049_3675.jpg

Real music fans don't just buy an album, get their groove on and put the album away until later. We invest a part of ourselves in each record we buy. And, by extension, we invest a piece of ourselves in the bands we love. We form a relationship, so to speak, with the band as a whole. And it's a tenuous sort of relationship, because the only thing that ties us together is the actual music. A new album comes out, you listen for the first time and each perfectly crafted song is tantamount to being embraced by a passionate lover. Every lyric that resonates, beat that you feel in your bones, hook that captures your soul - it's like making love to the music and those who made the music (metaphorically speaking, of course). The better the anticipated album or single, the more intense the action is. So each new album we wait for is like the promise of hot, dirty sex after your partner has been away for a while. And in that essence, Chinese Democracy has been a years long cock tease.

My real lust for the band kind of faded right around Civil War. It was then I realized that GnR was the equivalent of the girl who teases you with her perky breasts for years and when you finally manage to get under the hood, you grab hold of three inches of padded bra. All that music before Use Your Illusion II was just a ruse to get us to this point. They gave us the good stuff first so they could later on sit back and make this pretentious, melodramatic drivel that they called art. There was nothing left to them. Empty D cups.

I never held a grudge against the rest of the band like I do Axl. He was - and is - a self indulgent monster whose posturing bravado could never hide the fact that he was really nothing more than a wimp, a nancy boy, a withered soul of a human being who couldn't handle criticism or competition. Yet somehow, he managed to convince himself that he was the king of the mountain and deserved every indulgence he demanded - something the attempted creation of Chinese Democracy has made all so evident, especially since he surrounded himself with people just like himself.

He accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks and chicken wire.

Out of the entire five page NYT article, that excerpt alone is what symbolizes both Axl Rose and the whole warped evolution of Guns N Roses. Ridiculous excess, indulgence, pretentiousness and the penchant for extending the idea of making an album to such ridiculous heights that, somehow, building a chicken coop for Buckethead seemed like a good way for Geffen to spend their money.

And how much money has Chinese Democracy cost to make so far?
[Axl] has racked up more than $13 million in production costs, according to Geffen documents, ranking his unfinished masterpiece as probably the most expensive recording never released.

13 million dollars to make an album that a) will probably never see the light of day and b) even if it did, would never recoup the costs to the label or even be worth listening to at this point. Who wants to hear what a lover has to say after they've kicked you in the back time and time again? At some point, you walk. You don't look back. After all the teasing - the MTV awards, the New Year's Eve show, the inlkings of what the record would sound like, the addition of people like Robin Finck to the band - to still be standing here waiting for some GnR loving is to victimize yourself.

Mr. Rose is reportedly working on the album even now in a San Fernando Valley studio. "The 'Chinese Democracy' album is very close to being completed," Merck Mercuriadis, the chief executive officer of Sanctuary Group, which manages Mr. Rose, wrote in a recent statement.

Mr. Mercuriadis was not very happy with the NYT article and wrote a letter to the editor, in which he called the author of the piece, Jeff Leeds, "the return of Jayson Blair under a pseudonym."

Axl Rose is not interested in fame, money, popularity or what the New York Times or any other paper for that matter might think of him. His only interest is making the best album he is capable of so that it can have a positive affect in 2005 on people who are enthusiasts of music and interested in Guns N' Roses. His artistic integrity is such that he has chosen to do so without compromise at great personal sacrifice which makes him a soft target for the sort of rubbish you have chosen to print. I believe he will have the last laugh.

One has to wonder if Mr. Mercuriadis really believes what he wrote. Or perhaps he is just a victim of Axl's cult of personality. Maybe Mercuriadis and Axl both really believe that Chinese Democracy will be released some day. Maybe they both believe it won't raise the bar on suckitude. And maybe they believe that whatever ragtag band Axl ends up with deserves to be called Guns N Roses. But the phrases "artistic integrity" and "great personal sacrfice" don't really come to mind when I think of Axl Rose. Is it that "artistic integrity" that's causing his old bandmates to sue him?

I prefer to remember Axl the way I first loved him; all swaying hips and high decibel screaming, causing riots, forgetting to show up for concerts, making an ass of himself in ways that are forgivable in rock and roll. The whole Chinese Democracy saga? As unforgivable as The Spaghetti Incident.

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Comments

I've been furiously trying to convince myself that GnR is just another band that broke up and isn't making music anymore (which is probably pretty close to the truth anyway). It's getting harder as more news of Chinese Democracy has been on the wind; my ears are sore from having my fingers jammed in them.

It's really not hard to convince yourself they've broken up given that the Velvet Revolver disc sounded more like GnR than I expect Chinese Democracy ever will.

GnR was a train wreck (albeit a brilliant one) destined to become a parody of itself, which, sadly, is exactly what happened. I still think "November Rain" is perhaps the most brilliant video EVER, but that was probably the band's high water mark.

When GnR was good, they were VERY good. When they were bad...well, it's best to not go there. I have my own GnR Greatest Hits collection on my iPod; I can barely bring myself to listen to the rest of their stuff. Sure, they were boorish, mysogynistic, and immature (not to mention terribly inconsistent), but they put out some interesting ear candy. When I find myself wanting to relax, I slap on my iPod earbuds, and find GnR...hmm, relaxation...probably not what Axl had in mind, eh?

Wait, a supergroup is forming....Lars on Drums, Axl on vocals, maybe throw in a guy or two from Oasis for good measure!

you forgot the shoes...
says he who owns the orange vinyl of the spaghetti incident... did I ever tell you about a short story I read that said axl was basically a white trash male hooker selling his ass to arabs in limos in the mid eighties just to get by?

Some bands have only one great album in them. And if it's your first one, well... sucks for you.

It was Izzy who made GnR great. Once he left, it was all over.

Back in college, one of my friends called it "The Spaghetti Accident", and the name just stuck.

I loved "Civil War," personally (I heard it first on that relief album). The "Use Your Illusion" albums had plenty of good stuff, and plenty of crap as well.

GnR makes you appreciate the Stones' work ethic and ambition - Jagger and Richards had to learn how to write songs, and they kept on writing and recording through worse than anything GnR has suffered (drug prosecutions, Brian Jones, Altamont, etc.) and through greater wealth and adulation.

"Today, we are going to talk about Guns N Roses."

Do we have to?

Chinese Democracy will eventually come out, but I don't think it will do very well commercially. Even if the material was as good as Appetite, (it's not) it could never possibly live up to the hype created by the delay in its release. It's doomed to be a disappointment.

You can actually listen to live versions of some of the Chinese Democracy tracks online if you search around enough. Here's one site, but there are plenty of others. People recorded them at the New Years Eve shows in Vegas a couple years back, and in Rio, and from the aborted tour in 02. It's good, but not great.

You know what? Your writings on music beat the living crap out of what passes for writing from the critic of of our local paper. Even from our local underground paper.

"Empty D cups?" Ha!

I knew it was all downhill with G'n'R as soon as I saw a scruffy, unshaved Axl in an MTV interview explain why they'd fired a member. With a bottle of Jack in one hand, a cigarette in the other, (a row a empties on the mantle behind him and the gravel quality of his voice hinted at a long night) he actually said they'd fired him because, "He couldn't handle his drugs." Right, Axl. And you can.

I must admit that the end was decidedly less spectacular than I had hoped for. I was expecting a "bang" not a "whimper."

A couple of years ago, my husband dragged me to see Guns n' Roses when they went on tour to support Chinese Democracy. I'm not a huge Guns n' Roses fan, but I have respect for what they achieved with Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion discs. The band sounded pretty good---Buckethead was impressive and everyone else played at his level. But Axl, to put it bluntly, sucked. The show was supposed to start at eight---with two opening acts. Axl didn't come on until a quarter to eleven. Then...all he did was run back and forth across the stage, like he was forsaking the center stage for the corners. I couldn't figure out why he kept swinging back and forth, like a pendulum on a Grandfather clock, until I realized that at either end of the stage there were teleprompters with the song lyrics on them.

Never trust a guy who doesn't know the lyrics to his own songs.

Every time Velvet Revolver's Slither comes on the radio, I sing it in my best Axl Rose imitation voice and sway.

I swear that song would have been 10 times better if Axl was belting out the lyrics.

Also, Use Your Illusion II had a couple of redeeming songs (you could be mine, knockin on heavens door, 14 years). All in all, you could have take the best parts of UYI-I and UYI-II and
made one really kick assed album.

Somewhere deep down in my heart, I long for GnR to get back together. Now that I'm dreaming, I wish I had a Ferrari.

RobIN Finck, michele, RobIN. ;)

I didn't follow GnR much after their first album so I can't comment on the decline of the music - but I do know that Axl Rose is one scary looking dude these days.

What happened to him? Yeesh.

RobIN Finck, michele, RobIN. ;)

Heh. My wordperfect spell check changed it to Robert. I must have typo-ed Robin in the first place.

What happened to him? Yeesh.

Plastic surgery.

heh. next thing you know, Axl will be the "new" lead singer for Van Halen.

Guns n' Halen.
Van Roses.
Rose Van Halen.

um, yeah.

Blowing off concerts or showing up late is simply unprofessional, IMHO. You can still be a rocker and show up at work when you're supposed to. Use Your Illusion was an uneven effort. It had some strong songs, but as a friend of mine said, too many ones where they're complaining about how difficult it is to be rock stars.

I hope Slash and Duff win in court.

The saddest aspect for me is Tommy Stinson's involvement with this mess. What kind of masochist is involved with both the Replacements and GNR?

I'll still never forget the first time I heard "Welcome to the Jungle". I was going to this mostly-Black high school in Seattle and I'd been stuck in this fucked-up cultural vacuum for about 3 years. My friends and I were too nerdy to approach the hip-hop set so we were mostly stuck listening to dated art rock; lots of Led Zep and Rush. Little bit of Yes and Yaz. Shit like that.

Then one night I was sitting at home watching MTV; endless hours of fucking Lionel Ritchie, Anita Baker and George Michael and then, "Welcome to the Jungle". Axl strapped into a chair watching clips from the evening news, screaming like a lunatic; coke-pumped neck muscles threatening to pull the skin of his face completely off his skull, like a latex effect from Alien.

I actually broke out in goose flesh. The hair on my arms stood straight up.

I'll never forgive him for turning out to be such a fuck'n queef.

I hope Slash and Duff win in court.

Slash and Duff have already won in the court of regaining the public's respect.

I saw GnR (well Axl & Dizzy Reid plus other guys) and I thought they were pretty damn impressive. What was not impressive was the new stuff from CD. It was fairly rubbish imo. What Axl should do is bring back Tracii Guns.

Is it bad that when I think of GnR the ONLY thing that comes to mind is "Where do we go, where do we go, where do we go now?...mmmmm where do we go? (Sweet child) ooo where do we go now?..."

True, A Different Bill. The best revenge is success, and Slash and Duff have attained it with Velvet Revolver.

i was working as a bellman in a resort in AZ right when Appetite was hitting big and GNR was on their first tour out of LA. Their tour bus showed up at 7am and it was my job to wheel all their gear to their respective rooms. Now it's 7am and off the bus comes the band (less Axl)and there's Slash, looking like he just walked out of the video, absolutely shitfaced with a bottle of JD in his hand. By the time I got to his room 5 minutes later, he was passed out on the bed face down with the JD spilling all over the bed. I'll always give him credit for not having a fake persona, what you saw was what he was.
The rest of the guys in the band were also really cool,the manager stiffed me on the tip but the drummer (the one who got booted) gave me 2 tickets to the show that night which was at the Celebrity theater in Phoenix- a circular rotating stage that sits maybe 2-3 thousand people. They were awesome. Axel of course, flew in from LA that day and was a dick to everyone in the hotel. Go figure. Once I heard their later stuff I quit paying attention. I hope Axl loses and ends up eating out of West LA dumpsters.

NYT link with no login required (courtesy of the NYT link generator)

First of all, it was not Axl who broke up the band: it was all of them. Slash wanted to play different music to what Axl wanted. And Duff and Matt followed him like sheep. I respect all of them but I think they should of put it aside and did what was best for the band.

I have heard some songs from Chinese Democracy; And I like it. I hope Velvet Revolver and the new Guns N Roses are very succesfull

Everyone should stop bitching about Axl

Kevin0 you suck you can't even spell AXL'S name