The GNR Blog: A Ranked List of All 30 Guns N' Roses 'Use Your Illusion' Songs
We rank all thirty songs on the now-twenty-year-old Use Your Illusion albums.
10. “Double Talkin’ Jive” – Use Your Illusion I (Stradlin)
Izzy really stretched his writing legs on the Illusion albums, and “Double Talkin’ Jive” was his grittiest number yet (see: finding a head and an arm in the garbage can). This track was also a favorite of Slash’s, thanks to the classical guitar solo that ends the song.
09. “The Garden” (featuring Shannon Hoon and Alice Cooper) – Use Your Illusion I (Rose, West Arkeen, Del James)
The story behind Cooper’s appearance on this song is that when Axl sang it, he sounded so much like the shock-rocker that the band just decided to call him up and see if he’d do the track. As amazingly versatile as Rose’s voice can be, many might not have even noticed the switch had it not been for the liner notes.
08. “Locomotive (Complicity)” – Use Your Illusion II (Slash, Rose)
Given how perfectly Slash and Izzy’s guitars meld with Duff’s bass line to mimic a runaway train, this song would have been called “Locomotive” even if Axl hadn’t worked the word into the lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, “Locomotive” gets the high ranking primarily for its quality lyrical content. Of course, a few Slash solos don’t hurt its case either.
07. “Don’t Cry” – Use Your Illusion I (Stradlin, Rose)
Part of the Use Your Illusion-Trilogy, along with “November Rain” and “Estranged,” “Don’t Cry” was written by Stradlin and Rose after both had a heart-breaking experience with the exact same girl. While Izzy plays the song's intro and was the prime writer, he never made it to the video for this one, with Dizzy Reed famously wearing a shirt that read “Where’s Izzy?” during the shoot.
06. “Right Next Door to Hell” – Use Your Illusion I (Rose, Stradlin, Timo Caltia)
More than likely the first song most fans heard upon purchasing the albums, ”Right Next Door to Hell” picked up where Appetite for Destruction left off. The “fuck you” lyrics, driving bass and killer guitar riff signaled to the world that the “World’s Most Dangerous Rock Band” were still just as volatile.
05. “Garden of Eden” – Use Your Illusion I (Slash, Rose)
It’s easy to remember the Use Your Illusion albums for their ballads, but “Garden of Eden” was a rapid-fire, no-holds-barred journey through the cruel and shallow money trench of the music industry, and indeed, the world at large. The frantic lyrics even prompted a follow-the-bouncing-ball-theme to the music video for the song. The early blueprint for the ever popular lyric video? Perhaps…
04. “November Rain” – Use Your Illusion I (Rose)
Nothing this ambitious had been pulled off by a mainstream rock act since “Bohemian Rhapsody,” not to mention the fact that “November Rain” without a doubt features not one, not two, but three of Slash’s best guitar solos of all time. Oh, and that orchestra you hear in the beginning of the song? All synth patches painstakingly and obsessively programmed by Axl himself.
03. “Civil War” – Use Your Illusion II (Rose, Slash, McKagan)
As overtly political a song as Guns ever wrote, “Civil War” began as an instrumental tune Slash had written prior to the Appetite for Destruction world tour. The song was molded into form by the band during sound checks on the road. Allegedly, a demo version of this song exists with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich doing the whistling in the song’s intro. Not unlikely considering Metallica were recording the "Black Album" in the very same studio.
02. “Coma” – Use Your Illusion I (Slash, Rose)
“Coma” is a twisting, turning ride through the confused, enraged and occasionally crystal-clear thoughts of a coma patient. Musically, this could be GN’R’s crowning achievement. Lyrically, Axl Rose claimed the song took him over a year to write, saying: “I tried to write that song for a year, and couldn't. I went to write it at the studio and passed out. I woke up two hours later and sat down and wrote the whole end of the song, like, just off the top of my head.”
01. “Estranged” – Use Your Illusion II (Rose)
Say what you will about Chinese Democracy, but that album at the very least proved once again that Axl Rose knows how to write a fucking song. That being said, he needs Slash, Duff and Izzy behind him to take a song from great to extraordinary, and look no further than “Estranged” for proof. An intensely personal song, “Estranged” was a snapshot of Axl at a period of time in his life in which he was becoming increasingly isolated from those around him. Where the songs on Chinese Democracy stayed vague in their lyrical content, “Estranged” proved more of a personal conversation than anything, whether it was Axl talking to an ex-lover, his friends or himself. You can hear Axl try to recapture the magic of this song on “Madagascar,” but falling short of a tune as strong as “Estranged” is nothing to be ashamed of. Unless it’s “My World.”
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