It seems that some of the best songs occur on my I-Pod shuffle. I was lazily waiting for the bus the other day when “Don’t Cry” by Guns ‘N Roses came on & it took every ounce of strength within me to not start doing the Axl Rose sway. Listening over & over again led me to the conclusion that “Don’t Cry” is the best unassumingly great guitar song & also the best thing Shannon Hoon could do to secure some semblance of a musical legacy besides ODing after an all night coke binge. What I mean by unassumingly great guitar song is that it starts off as a ballad & then sometime after the second chorus Slash erupts into a masterful guitar solo that completely takes you by surprise. Just as soon as it hits, though, it’s gone.
It exemplifies the last vestige of the hair band ’80’s style that GNR perfected. I heard a discussion on the radio the other day about how in the ’80’s everyone just assumed Van Halen would be around forever, but no one thought Bon Jovi would last much past the ’80’s. That’s how I felt about GNR & Metallica. I never thought Metallica was worth a damn (still don’t). They, to me, were the white trash version of GNR, but nowhere near as musically talented. Slash is the best guitar player of our generation. I’m not even sure anyone could argue otherwise. What Metallica was to Midwest Metalheads, GNR was to the excess driven Sunset Strip. Metallica may still be together, but they don’t stand the test of time the way GNR does.
My Morning Jacket has traces of GNR in songs like “One Big Holiday” but the only bands that aspire to be Metallica are the bands that cover their faces with ridiculous masks & make a mockery of quality music. Sure, GNR were loud, but loud music has nothing to do with quality of musicianship. Matt Sorum, Duff Mckagan, Axl Rose & Slash are infinitely better musicians than James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, the number of bassists they ran through & Kirk Hammet (though he was a very good guitarist). Axl Rose’s range alone showed that they were more than just a long haired ’80’s act. So when the argument inevitably comes up & you’re asked who was a better band or who stands the test of time better without a doubt you must answer Guns ‘N Roses. They are without a doubt the great act to come out of the hair ’80’s.
I have included 3 versions of the song for your consumption.
Don’t Cry – Use Your Illusion I
Don’t Cry – Use Your Illusion II
Don’t Cry – Live