10 Best Rock Songs by Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses is one of the best hard Rock Bands in the world of rock music. Ever since its emergence in 1980s, it has given myriads of rock songs, which are loop-worthy even today. The rock band has gone through many disruptive changes ever since its fall out in the early 1997, in which the lead guitarist, Slash and Duff McKagan, got disaffiliated from the classic rock band. Before that, Izzy Stardlin had left Guns N’ Roses in 1991, when the rock band was at its pinnacle.

Songs by the original Guns N’ Roses can always be distinguished by Axl Rose’s wide frequency range of voice, Slash’s impeccable lead guitar solos, along with Duff McKagan’s harmonious bass, and Izzy Stradlin’s continuously backing rhythm guitar with intermittent plucking sounds. Steven Adler’s crescendo inducing drums add to the tempo in all the songs. The band hasn’t confined itself to those chest-thumping hard rock songs. It has also come up with some soothing and unplugged acoustic compositions.

Guns N’ Roses has many compositions to its name, and the band has touched upon many themes when it comes to lyrics. Ever since its debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction’, the history of the rock band has had many members joining in and falling out. However, it is the original Guns N’ Roses that has rendered some unforgettable rock songs.

Here’s the list of best rock songs by Guns N’ Roses with a short note on their composition and background –

10. Paradise City – Appetite for Destruction [1987]

‘Paradise City’ was the only song in the album that featured a synthesizer, which was an innovation in music back then. The song is predominantly famous for its lyrics and Axl Rose’s wide range of voice comes to the fore in this one. The songwriting was an output of an impromptu playful jamming, that happened in the backseat of a car. The song is also played at many sports stadiums along with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. During live performances, Paradise City is often performed last as an encore, and the music video is also shot in live stadiums (Giants Stadium and in Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park). This is one of the best songs by Guns N’ Roses, and it reached top 10 in the U.S, and has also soared to number six on UK Singles Charts.

9. Don’t Cry [Original Version] – Use Your Illusion – I [1991]

‘Don’t Cry’ may not seem meritorious for the list of ‘Best Songs by Guns N’ Roses’ but I insist prediliction here. The song has two versions which were simultaneously released in two different albums. The other one which was released in Use Your Illusion – II had different lyrics, and the melody is slightly different too. Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin had written this song with a working title “Don’t You Cry Tonight” in March 1985, after the impetus of Guns N’ Roses. The music video features Shannon Hoon and Blind Menon as a co-lead vocalist. The song has soothing music and evocative lyrics. It featured in Top 10 in many countries, and was number eight in UK Singles Chart, as well as on number 10 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot Hundred.

8. Yesterdays – Use Your Illusion – II [1991]

‘Yesterdays’ was written by Axl Rose, West Arkeen, Del James, and Billy McCloud. The music video of Yesterday is one of the best music videos in rock music. The video is filmed by Andy Morahan, and is in black and white. There are two versions – the first in which Guns N’ Roses is playing the song in a Warehouse, and the other ones include photographs of band members from ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour. It is sung by Axl Rose with voice variations,  and the lyrics are evocative as they depict the perils of growing up. This song enters in our list of best songs by Guns N’ Roses because of Duff McKagan’s Bass Guitar play.

7. Since I Don’t Have You – The Spaghetti Incident? [1993]

This is a cover of Don McLean’s single of the same name which was written and composed by Jackie Taylor, James Beaumont, and others. The cover version from Guns N’ Roses has the signature of Slash at the onset of the song. It starts with a lead riff, and there is a strange melodious air to it, which evokes a feeling of warmth in loneliness. The music video also features Gary Oldman as a smiling demon, who mocks Axl Rose while he sings. This one of the best songs by Guns N’ Roses had also reached at number 69 in hot 100, and was in UK Top Ten when it was released.

6. Sympathy for the Devil – Interview with the Vampire Soundtrack [1994]

This is a cover version of the Rolling Stones band, which was originally written by Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. The song features during the closing credits of Neil Jordan’s film based on Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’. This cover has a riff by Paul Huge Tobias, who would be partially responsible for lead guitarist Slash’s departure from the rock band in 1996, and Slash describes the song by Guns N’ Roses as the sound of the rock band breaking up. The song has bad memories for the rock band, as it also became responsible for the departure of Gilby Clarke, who was a big fan of the Rolling Stones and the band recorded the song without him.

However, the rock song has an essence of the band and Axl Rose’s vocals does add to the delight of listening to it, which makes it one of the best songs by Guns N’ Roses. It had also reached number 55 on Billboard Hot 100.

5. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – Days of Thunder Soundtrack [1990]

It is an original Bob Dylan’s song and also one of his best singles. GN’R had covered “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” as a soundtrack for the film of ‘Days of Thunder’. The song became a hit and soared to number 2 in UK Singles Chart, as well as number 1 in Ireland. Guns N’ Roses started covering the song in their tours in 1987, and it used to get great response from audiences owing to Bob Dylan’s fame; and G N’ R composition wherein Slash nails the lead and Axl Rose entices the audience with voice variation when he sings the line “knockin’ on heaven’s door” and they sing after him. I recommend the live version to you.

4. Patience – G N’ R Lies [1988]

‘Patience’ is one of the most different compositions by Guns N’ Roses, as it is an unplugged acoustic song that relies more on acoustic guitar strumming and a lead solo by Slash more than any other instrument. The lyrics are emotionally evocative and in Duffy’s words, “Axl came up with a great lyric, seemingly out of nowhere, that of course became the story and melody of the song.” It’s a soft ballad that gives emotional depth to the album. The music video is a blend of studio scenes and display of Slash’s rather queer obsession for snakes. Have a look at the official video of Patience.

3. Civil War – Use Your Illusion II [1991]

The song was an idea by Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan and originally appeared on 1990 compilation ‘Nobody’s Child – Romanian Angel Appeal’. GN’R came up with it as a single in 1993 in various regions. AXL Rose had written this song in retaliation of the Civil War during an ‘Appetite for Destruction’ tour, however, it is relevant to all war as it states that, “a war feeds the riches while buries the poor”. This song by Guns N’ Roses has one of the best lead solos by Slash. Civil War by Guns N’ Roses also soared to number 11 in UK Singles and Billboard’s number 4 in US Mainstream rock.

2. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Appetite for Destruction [1987]

This song has the most iconic beginning lead riff in the history of rock music. Axl Rose had written ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ for his then-girlfriend Erin Everly. It has a very interesting backstory. The iconic lead was an output of an impromptu and impetuous jamming session. Slash was playing a spontaneous riff making annoying faces to Adler. It was Izzy Stradlin who identified the possibility of a song in the riff Slash played. Later, the song had topped Billboard hot 100 and reached number 6 in UK Singles Chart. Ironically, Slash himself is not a big fan of this song. Also, watch him playing that chest-thumping lead.

Also, try this rare acoustic version right from the “horse’s guitar”.

1. November Rain – Use Your Illusion – I [1991]

November Rain is perhaps one of the best rock music videos ever. AxL Rose was working on this song since 1983. He could translate his efforts only in 1991 when the rock band composed their album. The music video caters almost everything that is indigenous to Guns N’ Roses. It is a blend of GN’ R orchestra, story and the best lead solo by Slash. Slash playing the lead outside the church is an iconic sight in the world of rock music. The lead solo by guitar features in many lists of top 10 lead solos ever. The song was number 1 on MTV for two months. It also soared to number 3 on the United States Billboard Hot Hundred chart.

The original Guns N’ Roses members had united in 2016. Watch the rock band galvanizing their audiences during Rock in Rio 2017 Guns N’ Roses concert. We wish that Guns N’ Roses continues to give exhilarating performances in their tours around the world.

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