Confession time: I’ve never especially liked Guns N’ Roses.
This may strike some Loyal Readers as strange, given my well-known affection for the hard-rock bands of the mid to late ’80s, the so-called “hair metal” guys. (I prefer the term “pop metal,” incidentally.) But G N’ R didn’t really fall into that category, did they? Their sound was louder and more anarchic than their contemporaries, closer in spirit to late ’70s punk than anybody like Def Leppard or Bon Jovi — which is, of course, what their fans and the critics thought was so great about G N’ R. But then I’ve never liked punk either. I enjoy a little melody with my crunchy guitars, please. Then there was the band’s image… oh, boy. Even at 19, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at lead guitarist Slash hiding behind that mop of hair and that dippy top hat, and lead singer Axl Rose is precisely the sort of scrawny little smart-ass who somehow manages to enrage me simply by breathing. He puts off the same vibe (to me) as Adam Sandler, another smirky, beady-eyed little twerp I’d love to sock right in the nose. You just know these guys used to be the kid back in school who’d fart in his hand and then hold it over your face — the dread buttercup technique, the name of which, I suspect, is one of the reasons why I’ve never warmed much to The Princess Bride and its unfortunately named heroine — and then somehow you would be the one to get in trouble for disrupting the class.
I do like a number of individual G N’ R songs, though, or at least I like them at first. That is, they start off great. But inevitably, somewhere just after the second verse, the drummer starts ramping up the pace and Slash takes off down some self-indulgent back alley, and the whole thing runs off the rails in a nerve-scraping crescendo that I rarely manage to tolerate all the way to the end. “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” possibly the band’s best-known hit, is a perfect example. The first two-thirds are a near-perfect rock tune. Then it just gets obnoxious. And this is enough of a pattern with the band’s output that it keeps me from ever really saying that I like them.
But Guns N’ Roses did record one song that I like without reservation, and it’s a song that’s been on my mind a lot this week, what with my anxiety leading into the election, followed by the apocalyptic post-election laments of the heartbroken Republicans and all the tiresome back-and-forth about what exactly happened that night and what it all means. I’ve also been thinking of the troubles a couple of my friends are going through at the moment, and of course there’s my own eternally fragile state of mind and my weariness with all the worn-out bullshit of life. And throughout this past week, when all this stuff has reached a critical mass and I’ve felt like I’m at my lowest, most exhausted point, this song has flickered through my mind… and weirdly enough, the thought of it has kind of helped. And maybe it can help some of the people reading this, too, the ones with the problems and the ones who are afraid and unhappy, and the ones who, like me, are just plain tired. It is truly a song — and a sentiment — for our moment.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Patience,” from the 1989 album G N’ R Lies:
And on the note, I bid you all a pleasant weekend…