Guns’n’Roses, 25 years after November Rain - February 18, 1992
Born in the 80s, 90s or 00s, you have to admit that music in the 90s was really something different. I have to say that I really do believe that everything was way better than now, including music! So, let’s travel back in time when we really were able to feel the music, to feel every single word, every single move and every musical note. When we were able to see the romance without feeling it. This is why we are going back to February 18, 1992, exactly 25 years ago. Why? Because 25 years ago one of the most powerful and one of the sketchiest music videos was announced. 25 years ago MTV introduced an amazing and a little bit confusing video of one of the most famous rock groups ever – “Guns’N’Roses". The Music video of their powerful ballad “November rain” was announced and this video still leave us speechless after so much time. Loving this music or not, loving this rock band or not, you will have to agree that this is one of the most fascinating song ever. There are so many reasons why….
Let’s try to explain this masterpiece of the music, step by step.
Song “November rain” was “just one more” single from the Guns’N’Roses album “Use Your Illusion 1”. It was released back in 1991 and immediately found its place on the top 10 on the Billboard list. But, besides, it was the longest song in that year. The whole concept and idea of making this song were born in 1983, when Axl Rose, the leader of the band decided to write something that was not supposed to be a classic love song. It was a project that was in his head and this project needed so much time to be transferred to others and on the scene. It was an idea for a song which needed to be romantic, but intense and powerful at the same time. The song that would “rock” everyone’s world and the ballad that everyone would mention years and years after.
He'd been writing it for days and nights and finally, he got the product of his work-the song that was 20 minutes long! Too long, the band agreed. So, they made it shorter. The original version, the version that looks like some short movie is 9 minutes long. Well, 9 minutes and 7 seconds, to be exact. The critics and the fans all around the world were skeptical when they realized that they needed to listen to the song and watch the music video that is almost 10 minutes long. Who is making so long songs and music videos? Well, they do! Guns’N’Roses! And they are doing it really amazingly, in a unique way, like no one else did it before.
Axl Rose was aware of the one fact – the nine minutes song was a big bet for him, for the whole band and for all the fans around the world who were able to understand their work. But it seems that he said, “Let’s give it a try”! He wanted to do something special, something different, and, you have to agree, no one else did anything similar to beat him in his imagination and creativity. And Axl has this. That is a characteristic of all great artists. His creativity, imagination, and talent never fooled him. He did know exactly what he wanted, he did know how to make a great hit! The song “November rain” was good thought – out, but the music video was a carefully calculated career move! It was a rough travel and an endless road. But it was a move that he knew he had to do.
And now, 25 years later, a lot of people don’t have a clue of what exactly happened in this music video. Love, wedding, storm, tears, and funeral. What has happened to the girl in this music video? Why did she die and how? Did someone kill her? Did the storm kill her? Or Axl Rose was the one who decideed to take her life? Some questions were never answered, not even now.
Let’s try to go back, to try to analyse one of the most watched music videos ever! Minute by minute! It all stars with Axl Rose in the darkness of his room, drinking pills and alcohol. Smoking cigars. Suffering. His pain is something that everyone can fell in just a couple of seconds. The next scene is in the theater, where “Guns’N’Roses” are performing the song “November rain”. More than 1500 people were playing in this music video, more than 1500 extracts. More than one minute of an amazing instrumental intro, where the guitar and piano are the outflow. And then this church. An happy bride with the sincere smile in the beautiful white wedding dress walking down to the altar. In front of the altar, there is him, Axl Rose. But, did anyone notice that this smile that was so sincere and wide disappeared in the second while she was getting closer to the altar. While she was getting closer to her future husband. “Nothing lasts forever and we both know hearts can change…”
Was she really unhappy? Or was she just too excited and wanted to hide and control her emotions? No one can’t really tell. But their kiss after the wedding ceremony was telling a lot about the couple – about Axl and Stephanie Seymour, a famous model, Axl's girlfriend back then. The passionate kiss in front of the audience, or in this case, their guests, was so real. Like a kiss from the death....
After the amazing Slash's guitar solo, that adds a very special touch in this music video, the "happy“ couple is leaving the church. Axl is happy all the time, but Stephanie seems happy only when the audience is there, looking at them, but as soon as she turns her head, her smile is lost. She is looking into some unreachable point. Is she trying to show Axl that she is happy, that she has no problems? That she is OK with the marriage, that she is happy with her life? No one can tell.
Party, happy people, dancing and singing....and suddenly a storm. There are so many symbolic elements that we can find in the storm. But generally, the storm itself is a unreplaceable symbol of the so many coming changes in life. First the storm, then the death...
For 25 years people who love and respect "Guns'N'Roses“ work and music believed that the storm killed Stephanie in the music video. Others believed that it was Axl who actually took her life. Was he jealous like he was in the real life when he was younger? It is hard to tell. Storm in the music video destroyed everything. Red wine was all over the table and the white tablecloth. Was this a symbol of blood? Probably, because in the next scene there is a funeral. The funeral of the bride.
In the same church where they were married, she was in the coffin. Dead. Rose was crying. But the church was pretty much empty. Like no one cared for the bride that was young and died. Anyway, people believe that people don't want to come to the funeral if the person killed herself. That is one of the things that a lot of people believe – that the bride actually killed herself in this music video. No one can tell why, but when you look back at this music video, her smile was a mask for the audience. She was not really happy. She was imagined, with a forced smile on her face.
During the funeral, it was raining. Just like it was raining after their wedding. People were hiding from the rain, but Axl was there all the time. With the coffin. With love for his wife. Roses were red and rain washed them from the blood. So many hidden symbols, so many things that are not so clear in this music video.
And really, when you are trying to analyze this music video, those 9 minutes of it will go through very fast. This is what makes this music video so different and intriguing. This is what makes Axl Rose and Guns'N'Roses different from any other bands. Members of the band were talking about this song. For ages. Actually, they still do. On one thing they agreed – they don't know what happened to the bride and what is the main message that Axl was trying to send to the audience. No one really can tell. Some people believe that there is no message in this music video, but I disagree. Why would Axl work so many years on something like this without having a point? Pointless songs for Axl Roses just don't exist.
If you try to analyze every sentence in the song, one by one, you will realize that these song and music video have more sense than any other songs. Bright cannot stay lit in the cold November rain. Hearts can change. True. It means that sometimes love doesn't last forever. It also means that people do feel some fear when they are thinking about how one day their loved ones will abandon them. Love shines, but not all the time. Just like the candle. The November rain is beautiful, pure, just like love. But the storm happens and changes everything.
Let’s go back to the music video. What has happened to the girl? According to so many things, that girl decided to kill herself. During the funeral the coffin is open, but you don’t see her face. At least, not her whole face. There are a lot of theories why, and some of those theories say that her face was ruined and that this is why we were not able to see her face. She remains pretty until the end, she remains beautiful all the time, even after her death.
The song by itself is pretty clear – we all do know what Axl means to tell, but the music video stays a mystery. Axl tried to explain this music video in just one sentence. He told that he and his band really did “not wanting to be in a state of having to deal with unrequited love.“ So, what does this mean? It still remains a secret, even 25 after this music video. Some people say that it doesn't matter, because until now, "November rain“ is one of the most beautiful and one of the most powerful rock ballads ever. And guess what? This music video is one of the most watched music videos ever. It has every single emotion that one song needs, that one music video needs.
The voice of Axl, Slash's solo and every single thing in this music video are such amazing. You got to enjoy it all over again. And when it is done, you can't stop asking yourself – why doesn't this music video ast longer than 9 minutes ?. There is a point! As much as we considered this song the longest ballad ever, yet we are waiting for it to continue. It makes a sense because it is not done.
We can't tell for sure what has happened to a bride. We see love, happiness, sorrow – it is all about life. Every situation in life has those moments. Axl had it. Slash as well. And together, with the rest of the band, they combine it in one beautiful, but tragic story. Because "nothing lasts forever and we both know hearts can change“. And it is really hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain. You can try to save your life, to keep it away from the others, trying to protect her, but once the rain comes, the candle is not bright anymore. It does not shine. It is dead.
The song "November rain“ and its fantastic music video are great. And this work of art will never die. It is beautiful and unique and every single generation will find a meaning in this song.
And now, when you really look at this music video once, you will not immediately get a sense of it. But some scenes will be there forever in your head – the kiss between Anl and his girl, Slash's solo and the funeral. This is what makes this song an amazing masterpiece, a masterpiece that you will always remember. If you try to analyze this song, you will see that there are so many things that remain a secret, but also, there is such a great art full of metaphors.
One thing we know for sure – no matter what has happened to the bride, did she killed herself or not, this love remains one of the most powerful ever. The couple is so perfetct, so beautiful and you can feel their passion. Was this passion so huge that they were not able to stand for it? We don't know, but we should simply enjoy this music video as much as we enjoy this amazing classic rock song.