So rather than just post a comment to Kevin’s challenge in his last post, I figured I'd put the current blog on which I’m working on hold as I feel compelled to write a little more than just a few blurbs about one of my all time personal favorite musical projects, Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion”
I could probably write for hours on end in regards to this band as I can say with some degree of certainty that they are one of my top five all time favorite bands. No joke. While I don’t listen to their music all that frequently, when I do, I realize that their songs never get old. The “Illusion” albums also represent some of the last albums I owned on tape. I actually had to buy them on tape twice as a tragic event occurred while I was on a trip to visit my uncle JB in Florida. We had gone to a rock quarry near his friend’s outside Gainesville to go swimming and such. After a fun-filled day we were packing up the car to leave when it happened. I had left my bag in the middle of a dirt road and one of JB’s buddies accidentaly ran over it with his truck, crushing my tapes and walkman located inside. The “Illusion” albums were ruined and I was devastated, for at that time, I had probably listened to at least one of them for three months straight. But lucky for me, JB bought me new copies and all was right with the world once again. A few years later when I joined the CD world, I bought them a third time, and I can tell you this, those albums would be worth a fourth, fifth, or sixth purchase if necessary. I’ll never live another day without having access to them. Period.
So when Kevin initially asked me to select the songs from both “Illusion” albums that I would put on a solo album if I had to, my initial reaction was that it would be nearly impossible to do. I jumped on my ITunes account and began going through all the songs and to my surprise, within a minute I had my list. Now while I would never want to cut either album, as both are stellar, there are certainly some songs that stand out amongst the others and were absolute no brainers for me. And what I’ve discovered, and am somewhat disappointed by is that it’s a fairly predictable list. Just about every major single that came from those albums is on my list and every long song (over seven minutes) made the cut as well. For while there are some brilliant tracks that didn’t make the cut, I had to go to my default in what can be considered an unfair, but also interesting question. So here goes, my list of tracks that I would prefer if “Illusion” had been one album, in the order I'd probably put them:
- “Civil War"
- "Don't Cry"
- "Don't Damn Me"
- "You Ain’t the First”
- "You Could Be Mine"
- “Double Talkin’ Jive”
- “November Rain”
- “Dead Horse”
So yeah, I’m a sucker for the longer tracks. And don’t chastise me for going with so many singles as well, because the thing is, they’re freaking amazing. Notice I didn’t go for the covers of “Live and Let Die” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Nor did I opt for the latter singles such as “Garden of Eden”, “Yesterdays”, or “Get in the Ring”. But just for kicks, I thought I’d include some honorable mentions that I’d like to say I’d put on this list, but when push comes to shove, I just can’t:
“Back Off Bitch”
“Pretty Tied Up”
Those are just the first that come to mind, but I suppose they all really should be honorable mentions. Except “My World”. That song is just dumb. But what the most amazing about the “Illusions” is that they’re both as long as an album can get at nearly 80 minutes each and they’re both near perfect. It’s so hard to find albums that are perfect from start to finish. Let alone albums that last 78 minutes from start to finish. Let alone two albums at 78 minutes from start to finish. Let alone the fact that the two albums were released on the same day. Most double albums are packaged together but the Guns separated them in a move that nobody ever really did before and nobody has ever really done since. Springsteen did with “Lucky Town” and “Human Touch”, and despite the fact I’ve never really listened to either of them, I doubt either of them are as good as either of the “Illusions”. Plus, he never really intended for those albums to be released at the same time, it just happened that way.
At any rate, I’ll leave you with a clip of an interview Axl did for MTV in regards to the massive tour behind the “Illusion” albums that were probably the beginning of the end for the band. The world probably needed Guns to break up as it’s clear to see that Axl is batshit crazy, and sometimes I wish they had stayed around longer. But maybe that’s why I love them so much; they never really faded away. Every album they made was amazing and for a few short years, we had one of the all time greatest rock bands at our disposal, and they'll never get old for me. Despite Axl's claim to the contrary, time will not fade the pages in my book of memories.