Tuesday, February 5, 2013

G N' R Lies: "Move to the City"

The downfall of the original Guns N' Roses can be traced in "Move to the City."

On Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, it's the Guns' best song, a hard-boiled but sympathetic depiction of life on the run. Future metal legends recasting Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" with a girl in L.A. You barely even notice the saxophone.

A few years later, Guns N' Roses were playing it with extended horns and keyboard solos, plausibly so Axl could smoke a cigarette and change his outfit. One saxophonist (yes, there's more than one) even plays a quote from "If I Only Had a Brain."

The biggest difference from these two GNRs is not the size of their audience, but the size of their egos. I avidly worship the Use Your Illusion albums and the videos from the Tokyo Dome, but this is clearly a band successful and powerful enough to do anything they want creatively. Even a band as singularly talented as Guns N' Roses can't thrive on 100% artistic control.

Yet at their best, Guns N' Roses were a perfectly imperfect band. And that's what you hear on "Move to the City," a sloppy, vulgar and antagonistic song that performed by a team of junkies and felons with enough magnetism to earn themselves the choice to let someone in their band play "If I Only Had a Brain" for millions of viewers. Some of us may wish that GNR had known better, but knowing what we now know about them, we were lucky that they ever played anything at all.

No comments: