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November Rain

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February 18, 1992



November Rain

"Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version)

CD 7" single 12" single

1990–1991 at A&M Studios, Record Plant Studios, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios, Metalworks Recording Studios, Skip Saylor Recording (album mixing)

"November Rain" is a power ballad by the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses. Written by the band's lead singer Axl Rose, the song was released as a single in 1992 from their third studio album, Use Your Illusion I (1991). It features a sweeping orchestral backing and is one of Guns N' Roses' longest songs.


"November Rain" peaked at number 3 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of that chart. Since its release, the song has sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide.


According to Tracii Guns, former L.A. Guns 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. I need Moody's help"

In 1988, 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, Rose 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 18-minute 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 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, Rose talked them into it over discussions at Can-Am studios (where some of the album was recorded and mixed). Claims of such harsh musical differences were specifically disputed by Slash in his autobiography.

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

Song information

At 8:57 long, it is the second-longest song on the album, the longest being the 10:14 long, "Coma." It is the third-longest song by Guns N' Roses, behind the 9:24 "Estranged" from Use Your Illusion II.

Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by 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 ever to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

"November Rain" was voted #1 on the Rock 1000 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1,000 rock songs by New Zealand radio listeners. It was voted #2 on the 2007 version, being beaten out by "Back in Black" by AC/DC. The song topped the 'album tracks' section of a 1993 readers' poll in GN'R fanzine Controversy, beating 'Coma'. The top ten was completed by 'Estranged', 'Civil War', 'Paradise City', 'Sweet Child o' Mine', 'Don't Cry', 'Welcome to the Jungle', 'Patience' and 'Mr. Brownstone'.

The song was placed at #140 on Pitchfork Media's Top 200 Tracks of the 90s. In Chile, the song was placed at #73 on Chilean radio Rock & Pop.

Music video

The narrative quality of the music video accentuated the epic nature of the song. The video, directed by Andy Morahan, portrays Rose marrying his then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour, intercut with a live performance in a theater. Particularly, it can be noted for its large budget (about $1 million, including Seymour's dress) and sweeping cinematography by Mike Southon, which won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography. It is one of the most expensive music videos ever. Slash is prominently featured in some of the video's most memorable scenes, including a 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 Rose's piano onstage. Casting coordinator 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. The Orpheum Theater, a theater in downtown Los Angeles, was acquired for an evening shoot that went several hours into the night, and, unlike usual common practice, they did not 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.

For the outside shots of Slash while he is playing the first solo, Rose 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 Mexico. Coincidentally, this was the same church used in the movie Silverado.

Brad Hartmaier was the production designer for the New Mexico sequences at the Silverado Movie Ranch. Working from sketches he made while sitting in the hotel bar, Hartmaier managed to build and dress two church sets with the help of local crews. The exterior church set consisted of a dilapidated old building that was trucked out to the middle of a large prairie and turned into the prominent church in the video. Multiple crews worked for 24 hours straight building the main church and a duplicate interior church set complete with fly away walls, hand made cathedral windows and decorations befitting the southwestern region where it was shot. Hartmaier was in the church with a walkie-talkie with Slash as a helicopter circled above for the big shot. Slash asked him what he did and he replied, "I'm the production designer, "slash" art director slash prop man, slash painter, slash mad scientist. Slash quickly replied with a chuckle...'Ha ha, I'm just Slash.'" Hartmaier later said of working on the video, "It was the best experience of my life."

Nigel Phelps was the original production designer; Hartmaier was the art director for the Los Angeles video segments, then later became the production designer for the New Mexico segments after Phelps moved onto a feature film during the later part of the making of the video.

The priest in the video, an Italian man named Gianantonio, was a friend of Rose. 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.

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

As stated at the end of the video, "November Rain" is based on the short story "Without You" by Del James, available in his 1995 book The Language of Fear. The story concerns a rock star grieving over the death of his on-and-off-again girlfriend, who had committed suicide (inspired by Rose's troubled relationship with Erin Everly).

While much speculation exists about how Seymour's character in the video died, the relationship between the video clip and James' short story strongly suggests that she kills herself. She appears looking visibly troubled during one shot of the wedding and 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.

The video remained popular 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 1990s. In addition, the video was voted "Best Video Clip" in Metal Edge's 1992 Readers' Choice Awards.

As of March 2017, it is the most viewed music video on YouTube not made in the 21st century and the most viewed Guns N' Roses music video on VEVO, with over 750 million views.

Live performances

Before release of Use Your Illusion I, the song was first played live at Deer Creek Music Center on May 29, 1991. "November Rain" has been a staple at Guns N' Roses concerts ever since it was released in 1991. The song is usually preceded by Rose, sometimes playing "It's Alright" by Black Sabbath or "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John on piano. On the Chinese Democracy Tour, each of the guitar solos is played by a different guitarist. Robin Finck (2001) or Richard Fortus (2002–present) plays the first one, Finck (2001–2007) or DJ Ashba (2009–2015) plays the second one, and Buckethead (2001–2002) or Bumblefoot (2006–2014) plays the final solo.

The band performed a nearly nine-minute live version of the song with British musician Elton John on piano at the end of the 1992 VMAs ceremony.


Guns N' Roses
  • W. Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano, synthesizer programming, choir, backing vocals
  • Slash – lead guitar
  • Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, choir
  • Duff McKagan – bass guitar, backing vocals, choir
  • Matt Sorum – drums, backing vocals, choir
  • Dizzy Reed – backing vocals, choir
  • Additional musicians
  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals, choir
  • Johann Langlie – synthesizer programming
  • Reba Shaw – backing vocals, choir
  • Stuart Bailey – backing vocals, choir
  • Chart performance

    Although the song peaked only at No. 9 in Germany, it remained on the chart for 51 weeks.

    In Australia, it was in the top 10 for over a year and is the longest running top 10 single in history, and reached No. 2 in the end of year charts in spite of having a peak of No. 5. It was featured on the end of year charts in two consecutive years (1992 and 1993).




    November Rain Wikipedia

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