David James Brock

playwright, poet, librettist

David James Brock is a Canadian playwright, poet and librettist. Author of poetry collection, Everyone is CO2. Librettist for Scottish pub opera, The Sloans Project. Co-creator of Breath Cycle, an opera for cystic fibrosis.

The Five Greatest Guns n' Roses Songs: Number 3

Day Three Reflection

Look, I get it, not everyone likes Guns n’ Roses. If you’ve read the first two entries, you know there have been times in my life where I’m not completely sure I've liked them either. And I know Guns n’ Roses is not Husker Du or Prince or Mike Watt or Kings X or Pavement or Swans or etc., and I know, some of us like our musical past to have some real edge and danger. And I know that if it was on the radio, it might be empty and "safe" drivel. The goal here isn't argument (at least I won't fight back). There really isn't a goal here. I'm writing about a thing I like in a world full of stuff I don't.

So thanks for the feedback so far. This has been super fun, but I'm keeping these personal and nostalgic and not actually trying to convince anyone to like Guns n' Roses (or like me) or hate Welcome to the Jungle

Thanks for reading so far...

Thanks for reading so far...

Back to it...

Today’s pick is a bit of a struggle, an inevitable clash between the nostalgia of this list and a formed adult brain that can know better that some Gn'R lyrics are problematic. Because today’s song, #3 on the greatest Guns n’ Roses songs of all time is It’s So Easy from Appetite for Destruction (1987), which at track two, right after Welcome to the Jungle, had a tough act to follow (even though it was actually the first, and less successful, single released from the album).

Despite pretty much being a mainstream band from the minute Welcome to the Jungle finally made it onto MTV, as a suburban kid, G n'R was my first foray into listening to “dangerous music”…for one, thanks to Tipper Gore, it had some version of this sticker on the cassette box next to the Zellers price tag…

Now I want it!

Now I want it!

Second, though I had said the word “fuck” and had of course heard the word in movies—my first memory of it being the 1985 Gary Busey werewolf vehicle Silver Bullet—I don’t consciously remember it being a word I had heard on the tapes I had like George Michael’s Faith... Samantha Fox’s Touch Me...hmm, I liked me some sexy music. It’s So Easy bathed in the word.

I don’t want to take the joy out of It’s So Easy with too much 2016 analysis. It's not my strong suit, and I welcome those who have or would want to. However, the X number of variations of fuck are not what should’ve had me hiding this tape from my parents. It’s really not what makes this song dangerous and possibly-probably offensive.

There are a couple ugly lines here, much worse than a few f bombs that I am only now considering. And yes, I know we’re maybe not talking One in a Million offensive here, but I'm not sure I'd sing these ones to mom …

I see your sister in her Sunday dress
She’s out to please
She pouts her best
She’s out to take
No need to try
She’s ready to make
*
Ya get nothin’ for nothin’
If that’s what you do
Turn around bitch I got a use for you

So why is this song in my top 5 exercise when I could just pick It's So Easy's sonic sister Mr. Brownstone, which only plays with lil' ol' dangerous heroin? 

When I started doing this way back on Monday, I really thought It's So Easy would be number one. The dangerous sound of Slash and Izzy's guitars with Axl's snarl, more than any specific lyrics, is what I remember, what excited me, which really goes for a lot of Guns n' Roses songs to be honest. But I've changed my mind about it being #1 since Monday. So I suppose this little exercise is getting its dramatic arc two days in (or act three)...but then why leave it on the list at all? I'm not sure I answer the question...but here's a break...

Man oh man.

Man oh man.

I return back to the danger of It's So Easy that I responded to as a single digit human with maybe the admission I still don't know what to do with this song. The F bombs as a kid were probably enough to make it feel dangerous, but as I essentially advocate this for being a great song now, the violence in it is definitely enough to make me uncomfortable considering the mushy brain that listened to it/missed it/didn't know the problem. I don’t mean to gloss over that violence in this choice, and some of these lyrics certainly don't titillate me in the ways Samantha Fox and George Michael did and still do. But I still like the way the song sounds, and so here it is at #3. But it warrants a discussion, and I welcome it. I really do want to talk about Guns n' Roses, warts and all.

And it's so okay if you don't. 

Favourite Lyric that could also be okay in a Gin Blossoms song: So come with me...don't ask me where cause I don't know.

Most Axl’y Line/AKA "Huh?":  Cars are crashing every night...I drink n' drive...everything's in sight.

Slash Factor: Non-stop and one of his best, from opening riff to his solo following Axl's raging F-bomb directed towards someone whose only crime seemed to be standing there and looking cool.

Why this song is better than both Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City: Today's theme is danger, I suppose. It’s So Easy still feels like a secret you have (sort of like liking Guns n’ Roses quite often). It’s an angrier philosophy than Welcome to the Jungle (You’re gonna dieeeee! So what? Who isn’t) and more revelatory than Paradise City (The grass is green and the girls are pretty? Okay, that describes recess in 1988 and Trinity Bellwoods in 2016). I understand the irony of blogging as antithesis to secret keeping, but so be it. It's So Easy is a secret maybe more than one of us has (an it still isn't damned One in A Million).

Danger. Flammable material.

Danger. Flammable material.

Tomorrow... Less soulsearching and the #2 Guns n' Roses song ever. 2 is so close to #1!