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"November Rain" is a single by the band Guns N' Roses, written by lead singer Axl Rose and released in June 1992. The music video for this song, also released in 1992, quickly became the most requested video on MTV , and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography. It features a sweeping orchestral backing and is one of Guns N' Roses' longest songs.

Song

"November Rain" appears on the album Use Your Illusion I. At 8 minutes and 57 seconds, it is a rock ballad in the tradition of "Stairway to Heaven", "Dream On ", "Dust in the Wind" and "Bohemian Rhapsody". It is the second-longest song on that album, the longest being the 10-minutes and 08 seconds "Coma". Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by Axl Rose. Most live performances during the Use Your Illusion tour lacked the orchestral backing of the song (the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards being the best-known exception). It is the longest song to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The song peaked at #3 on the chart, becoming the band's sixth and last Top 10 hit and eighth top 40 hit. On the radio, "November Rain" is sometimes played in a shortened version of approximately six minutes, but many classic rock stations continue to play the full version. At around 7 minutes in, the song fades and then builds into a 2 minute guitar solo by Slash. This is accompanied by vocals as well, and then fades out into the ending. This song is listed at number 6 in the The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos list by Guitar World. "November Rain" was voted #1 on the Rock 1000 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1,000 rock songs by New Zealandmarker radio listeners. It was voted #2 on the Rock 1000 2007, being beaten out by "Back In Black" by AC/DC.

History

According to Tracii Guns, former Guns N' Roses guitarist and founding member, Axl Rose had been working on the song since at least 1983. In an interview, he said the following about "November Rain":

When we were doing that EP for L.A. Guns, like '83? He was playing "November Rain" — and it was called "November Rain" — you know, on piano. The guitar solo is amazing. Way back then. It was the only thing he knew how to play, but it was his. He'd go, "Someday this song is gonna be really cool." And I'd go, "It's cool now." "But it's not done", you know, he used to say. And, like, anytime we'd be at a hotel or anywhere, there'd be a piano; he'd just kinda play that music. And I'd go, "When are you gonna finish that already", you know? And he'd go, "I don't know what to do with it."


In 1985, Waggle Records (Pty.) Ltd. released in Australia a two-LP set titled "November Rain"/ "In Concert and Beyond" of an unidentified concert featuring a rough, acoustic version of the song. This early version of the song features finger-picked acoustic guitar, Axl on lead vocals, and a chorus of vocals in the background, as in the Use Your Illusion album version, but does not feature the extended guitar solos or the breakdown outro. As such, this live version clocks in at a running time of approximately 4:43.

Slash states in his autobiography that an eighteen minute long version of "November Rain" was recorded at a session with guitarist Manny Charlton (of rock band Nazareth) in 1986, before the recording sessions for Appetite for Destruction began.

According to a story told to the audience during the 2006 leg of the Chinese Democracy tour, none of the other band members had wanted to partake in the production of this song (or the other notable ballad "Estranged"). Slash and Duff McKagan were particularly opposed to the drift to symphonic ballads, and felt their choice of more direct rock songs were being overlooked by Rose. However, Axl talked them into it over discussions at Can-Am studios (where some of the album was recorded and mixed). It should be noted that claims of such harsh musical differences were specifically refuted by Slash in his autobiography.

Slash has said that the solo he played in the album version of the song (it's unclear which solo) was the same solo he played to the song when he heard it for the first time.

Music video

Composite image of the iconic wedding dress from the "November Rain" music video.
The narrative quality of the video accentuated the epic nature of the song. The video entailed Axl and then girlfriend Stephanie Seymour being wed, interspersed with a live performance in a theatre. Particularly, it can be noted for its large budget (about $1.5 million, including a dress worn by Stephanie Seymour worth $8,000) and stunning cinematography. It is one of the most expensive music video ever. Lead guitarist Slash is prominently featured in some of the video's most memorable scenes, including an epic sequence of helicopter shots swooping around him as he plays the first guitar solo and a later scene where he plays the third solo while standing on Axl's piano onstage. Casting co-ordinator Mark Roberton observed; "the camera-man had a lot of responsibility, as the crane-cam was so close to Slash, precariously stood atop a piano that was near the stage edge. One wrong twitch and the guitarist would've had a long drop!". The video for "November Rain" uses the full version of the song as opposed to an abridged version. A theatre in downtown Los Angeles was acquired for an evening shoot that went several hours into the night, and, unlike usual common practice, they didn't mime for any of the takes. Between several differing versions of "November Rain", while the cameras on cranes that swooped close to Slash's frets were reviewed and set up for the next shot - the band entertained the 1,500 extras by playing more of their songs.

This was the first time they had played augmented by an orchestra, something the band were especially pleased by (other earlier examples of strings used in rock music were by Deep Purple and The Moody Blues).

For the outside shots of Slash while he is playing the first solo, Axl had originally envisioned it taking place in a "cool field" of sorts. However, since the video was shot in winter, there were no good-looking fields around, and eventually the band decided to use a church in New Mexicomarker. Coincidentally, this was the same church used in the movie Silverado.

Brad Hartmaier art directed the New Mexico sequences at the Silverado Movie Ranch. Working from sketches he made while sitting in the hotel bar, Mr. Hartmaier managed to build and dress two church sets. The Exterior church set was a dilapidated old church that he trucked out to the middle of a large prairie. Multiple crews worked for 24 hours straight building a duplicate church complete with fly away walls, hand made cathedral windows and decorations befitting the southwestern region where it was shot. In an interview Mr. Hartmaier described the journey as both mysterious and magical as he was lucky enough to spend time with both Axl and Slash. Brad was in the church with a walkie talkie with Slash as a helicopter circled above for the big shot. Slash asked Brad what he did and Brad replied; "I'm the art director slash prop man, slash painter, slash mad scientist" who built all this stuff, Slash quickly replied with a chuckle..."Ha ha, I'm just Slash". "It was the best experience of my life - Brad Hartmaier Art Director Production Designer. Nigel Phelps was the original Art Director and Brad Hartmaier took his place when Nigel moved onto a feature film during the later part of the making of the Video.

The priest in the video, an Italian man (named Gian or San Antonio — the first part of his name is unclear), was a friend of Axl. Unbeknownst to the band, the church used for the interior shots was where the priest had performed some of his last services, eight years prior to the shooting of the video.

"November Rain", "Don't Cry", and "Estranged" music videos form an unofficial trilogy of sorts. While never specifically confirmed by the band, Del James and Axl Rose have made statements supporting this idea. The similarity in production, style and plots can be considered evidence of this intent.

Much speculation exists about the event of how Seymour's character in the video died. Alternate interpretations include the bride being struck by lightning during the wedding reception to being killed by Axl's character or by suicide. During the funeral sequence, a mirror is visible, covering over half her face, a technique used by funeral homes to allow victims of head trauma to have the appearance of a full face in the event of an open casket funeral. Also, during video, Axl is seen walking past a store with the name "Guns", though this may be an in-joke reference to the band's name.

As it's stated at the end of the video, "November Rain" is based on the short story "Without You" by Del James, available in James' 1995 book The Language of Fear. That short story would have an obvious appeal to Axl Rose, as it describes the misery of a former multi-platinum blues-influenced rock star, who reminisces over an on-and-off-again relationship ending with the woman's suicide via gunshot. It is notable, however, that in the short story, there is no mention of a wedding or marriage of the couple.

The video's popularity continued throughout the rest of the decade. At the end of 1992, MTV placed "November Rain" at #1 on their top 100 videos of that year. Subsequently, it often appeared at #1 or in the top 10 of several future all-time MTV countdowns throughout the '90s.

Cultural references

  • "November Rain" is referenced twice in the chorus of the song "On the Radio" by Regina Spektor: "On the radio/We heard November Rain/The solo's real long/But it's a pretty song" and "And on the radio/You hear November Rain/That solo's awful long/But it's a good refrain"


  • The wrestling company Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) used "November Rain" for their promotional music videos for their annual November to Remember wrestling event. The video would usually highlight all of the major storylines that led into that event, usually ECW's biggest of the year, and the video's airing was eagerly anticipated by ECW fans every year.


  • "November Rain" is alluded to in the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Bride of Butt-Head" when Butt-Head fantasizes about his wedding to a Russian mail-order bride resembling the bride in the music video with Slash appearing as his best man.






  • In an episode of The Suite Life on Deck, the song's structure is used when Zack and Woody enter an air band contest. The title of the parody is "Hot December Snow". In addition their outfits resemble ones worn by Rose and Slash.


Chart performances

Although the song peaked only at #9 in Germany, it remained on the chart for 51 weeks, thus becoming the 24th best-selling single of all time in the country.

Track listings

CD maxi
  1. "November Rain" (LP version) — 8:53
  2. "Sweet Child O' Mine" (LP version) — 5:55
  3. "Patience" (LP version) — 5:53


7" single
  1. "November Rain" (LP version) — 8:53
  2. "Sweet Child O' Mine" (LP version) — 5:55


12" maxi
  1. "November Rain" (LP version) — 8:53
  2. "Sweet Child O' Mine" (LP version) — 5:55
  3. "Patience" (LP version) — 5:53


Personnel

Guns N' Roses
Additional musicians
  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals, choir
  • Johann Langlie – synthesizer programming
  • Reba Shaw – backing vocals, choir
  • Stuart Bailey – backing vocals, choir


Certifications

Country Certification Date Sales certified
Germany Gold 1992 150,000
Netherlands Gold 1992 40,000
U.S. Gold August 5, 1992 500,000


Charts

Chart (1992) Peak

position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 5
Austrian Singles Chart 27
Dutch Mega Top 100 3
French SNEP Singles Chart 18
German Singles Chart 9
Irish Singles Chart 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 7
Swedish Singles Chart 38
Swiss Singles Chart 8
New Zealand Singles Chart 7
UK Singles Chart 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 15
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 19


References

  1. Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 318
  2. Guns N' Roses - The Making of 'November Rain' (part 6) from YouTube
  3. 2000 Guinness World Records ISBN 0-553-58268-2
  4. 50 Greatest Guitar Solos
  5. The Rock > Jocks > Simon
  6. Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. pp. 151
  7. Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. pp. 454
  8. Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 316
  9. List of most expensive music videos
  10. SoYouWanna know the ten most expensive music videos? | SoYouWanna.com
  11. Guns N' Roses - The Making of 'November Rain' (part 3) from YouTube
  12. Guns N' Roses - The Making of 'November Rain' (part 4) from YouTube
  13. Guns N' Roses - The Making of 'November Rain' (part 6) contd from YouTube
  14. Best-selling singles of all time in Germany Musicline.de (Retrieved May 17, 2009)
  15. German certifications musikindustrie.de (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  16. Dutch certifications nvpi.nl (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  17. U.S. certifications riaa.com (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  18. "November Rain", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  19. German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  20. Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  21. UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved January 12, 2009)
  22. Billboard allmusic.com (Retrieved January 12, 2009)


External links




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