I’m a “good girl” from Vermont who has never smoked an entire cigarette (tobacco or otherwise), has never taken a pill that can’t be bought at the drugstore and has never been shot up with anything outside of a doctor’s office.
In short, I am the antithesis of the typical Guns n’ Roses fan but, inexplicably, I fell hard and fast for the band in the early nineties.
Maybe it was a delayed teenage rebellion or maybe it was the powerful combination of Axl Rose’s long hair and Slash’s top hat.
And I wasn’t just a fan. I was obsessed.
I listened to their music non-stop. My used car had a personalized plate that read “G N R” and I drove it into Boston during a Saint Patrick’s Day snowstorm to see them perform at the Garden in 1993.
Luckily it was just a fling, not a long term relationship. I don’t even listen to them very often anymore, unless I’m feeling reminiscent or need to let out some anger.
But today I was in the mood so I loaded up Spotify and listened all day while I worked. I started with Appetite for Destruction and made my way all the way through The Spaghetti Incident. I drew the line at Chinese Democracy though. That one just doesn’t count.
I was shocked to discover that I remember most of the lyrics. I guess Guns n’ Roses is like riding a bike. You never forget.
I also realized that there are many life lessons to be learned from Guns n’ Roses lyrics, if you listen closely. Here are just a few:
Life Lesson #1: It’s ok not to share
Lyric: “You can have anything you want but you better not take it from me.”
From ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ on Appetite for Destruction.
We’re taught from a very early age that we should share. Our parents and our teachers tell us to share our toys, share our snacks. Even our picture books push that message. The Giving Tree, Rainbow Fish… Give until we have nothing left to give.
It’s a nice thought but sometimes you have to look out for yourself. After all, no one else is going to do it. So go ahead and be selfish. Axl says it’s ok.
Life Lesson #2: Liquor stores take credit cards
Lyric: “Wake up late and honey put on your clothes and take your credit card to the liquor store.”
From ‘Nightrain’ on Appetite for Destruction.
I’ve never had the need to charge something at the liquor store, but isn’t it nice to know you have that option? Because you just never know when you’re going to be out of cash and need a three dollar bottle of wine.
Life Lesson #3: Don’t buy into stereotypes
Lyric: “Where do we go now?”
From ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ on Appetite for Destruction.
I’ve always heard that men don’t ask for directions when they are lost. People say it all the time. It happens on TV shows, in movies and on commercials.
But like many stereotypes, it just isn’t true one hundred percent of the time. Sure, some men won’t ask, but look at Axl in this song. He not only asks once, he asks over and over and over. He really wants to know where to go.
Life Lesson #4: Nice boys don’t play rock and roll
Lyric: “Nice boys don’t play rock and roll.”
From ‘Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock and Roll’ on G N’ R Lies.
Life Lesson #5: Always carry a good rhyming dictionary.
Lyric: “You and I’ve got what it takes to make it. We won’t fake it, I’ll never break it. ‘Cause I can’t take it.”
From ‘Patience’ on G N’ R Lies.
Everything sounds better when it rhymes; even pleading with someone to not break up with you. Rhymes are just more pleasing to the ear.
The next time you’re having a hard time expressing yourself or have bad news to deliver, just rhyme.
Like “I’m sorry to say that you’re fired today. Here’s your severance pay.” Or “It’s no joke that I’m broke. Loan me money, good bloke.”
Life Lesson #6: Nobody likes a whiner
Lyric: “I had to put her six feet under and I can still hear her complain.”
From ‘Used to Love Her’ on G N’ R Lies.
Sometimes your life is going to be crap. It happens to all of us. But nobody wants to listen to you complain about it. In fact, whining will drive your friends away and you’re life will be even crappier.
So suck it up before someone kills you and buries you in the back yard just to shut you up.
Life Lesson # 7: Always carry a flashlight.
Lyric: “It’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain.”
From ‘November Rain’ on Use Your Illusion I.
I’ve never attempted to stand in the cold November rain with a candle, but I’m willing to bet that Axl is right. It would be hard to keep that candle lit.
But if you are prepared and have a flashlight, you won’t have to worry about the candle or having matches to relight it every time the rain puts it out.
Life Lesson #7: If all else fails, just say fuck.
Lyric “You want to fuck with me? Don’t fuck with me. ‘Cause I’m what you’ll be, so don’t fuck with m.”
From ‘Perfect Crime” on Use Your Illusion I.
Or pretty much any other Guns n’ Roses lyric from pretty much any other Guns n’ Roses song on pretty much any other Guns n’ Roses album.
Fuck is a versatile word that can be used in almost any situation. It can be a noun (“You’re a real fuck”), a verb (“Go fuck yourself”) or an adjective (“Isn’t that fucking nice”).
So the next time you need advice, just put on some Guns n’ Roses and ask yourself “what the fuck would Axl do?” I guarantee you’ll find your answer before you get to Slash’s final guitar solo.