Saturday, April 28, 2012

Appetite for Destruction: "It's So Easy"

Knowing what we know about Guns N' Roses, it's hard to believe that "It's So Easy" was their first single.  It was written by Duff McKagan, the band's fourth-best songwriter. It's got a nasty, minor-key progression that reminds me of the Sex Pistols. Axl mutes his range into a verbal leer, alternately muttering and barking some of the ugliest lyrics that he ever recorded. It's a great song, for sure, but it probably has less hit potential than anything else on Appetite. It sure ain't "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

When Axl sings "It's So Easy," it's a threat and not a boast. Even worse than an insatiable enfant terrible is one with the world on its feet. Record labels showered GNR with money and options before Geffen picked them up, and for the band it's so easy, both "when everybody's trying to please me" and "when nothing seems to please me."

It gets worse. "Turn around, bitch I've got a use for you/Besides, you ain't got nothing better to do/And I'm bored," moans Axl in one verse. Maybe he's being misogynistic, maybe he's dealing with his life as a longtime victim of sexual abuse. Either way, and it's possibly both, that grittiness is something I admire about "It's So Easy."

On "It's So Easy," Guns N' Roses completely deromanticize their habits, playing Bukowski to Mötley Crüe's Kerouac. GNR shared indulgences and appetites with their hard rock peers, but no other metal band has ever made their lifestyle sound so unfulfilling. It's not an easily marketable choice, or an easy one to relate to if you're not a rock star. But it's a choice that makes celebrity posturing look pretty silly.

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