September 17, 2013 by NowhereButPop
In honor of the 22nd anniversary of the release of Use Your Illusion I and II, I wanted narrow down the top ten best lines of my favorite album of all time. Happy use your illusion day everyone.
10) “But it’s been 14 years of silence; it’s been 14 years of pain, it’s been 14 years that are gone forever and I’ll never have again”- 14 Years, Use Your Illusion II
Even though this song represents the 14 years it took Rose and Stradlin to make it big, for fans of the band we can’t help but lament the 14 years and counting of bickering, strife, and a massive loss of potential after 1991. It reminds us of what things could have been like instead of what they are, and for the band they’ll never get 14 years of lost productivity back again. “14 Years” lyrically serves as the biggest reminder of what could have been.
9) “I think you’ve worn your welcome honey I’ll just see you along as I sing you this song”- You Ain’t the First”, Use Your Illusion I
“You Ain’t the First” is the band’s best acoustic song, because it sounds like something off of Sticky Fingers. At their best Guns N’ Roses was just that- the next Rolling Stones. It’s a very sarcastic, but laid back line that highlights the massive contribution that guitarist Izzy Stradlin had on the band.
8) “Once there was this rock and roll band rolling on the streets, time went by and it became a joke”- Pretty Tied Up, Use Your Illusion II
For the same reason that the line from “14 Years” is on this list, this lyric is an eerily accurate foreshadowing of the band’s fate. Granted, they’re revered as one of the last great rock bands, but the infighting and the egos, and all the unnecessary drama has become the punch line of too many jokes. On a more introspective note, I think it also speaks to Axl’s worst fear of being a forgotten band that people mock for liking in their younger days. You know like Green Day.
7) “Not bad kids just stupid ones, thought we’d own the world and gettin’ used to havin’ fun”- Right Next Door to Hell, Use Your Illusion I
For myself, I personally love this line and how it speaks to youthful capriciousness. I use this line all the time to exonerate myself of any wrong doing since there was no mal intent. It’s stupid…but I do it. How many times have we done something stupid or mean or reckless in the pursuit of having fun? We get so accustomed to a good time that in our stupidity and ignorance something bad can occur or something else can get hurt. It means more to me than it probably does to most other people, and most likely even to the band themselves.
6) “So if you want to love me then darlin’ don’t refrain, or I’ll just end up walkin’ in the cold November rain”- November Rain, Use Your Illusion I
Because even though Axl Rose is a lunatic, he still has feelings.
5) “But if I call you out of habit, I’m out of love and I gotta have it, would you give it to me if I fit your needs like when we both knew we had it”- Breakdown, Use Your Illusion II
Keep in mind that for the last five songs picking one lyrics was an incredibly difficult thing to do. This line though is truth incarnate. All too often we’ve called an ex or someone we shouldn’t, be it drunk or sober, just to feel some small ember of emotion that we once had for them. The idea of feigning emotion when there isn’t any emotions left just to feel something really takes the notion of sex, drugs, and rock and roll and turns it upside down. It’s a desperate lyric sure, but it’s one that everyone can relate to.
4) “Don’t hail me an don’t idolize the ink or I’ve failed in my attentions can you find the missing link, your only validation is in living your own life, vicarious existence is a fucking waste of time”- Don’t Damn Me, Use Your Illusion I
A song meant to explain himself to both detractors and obsessed fans, “Don’t Damn Me” is Axl at his most sincere and vulnerable. Despite evidence to the contrary, Axl doesn’t see himself as this mega rock star that others paint him out to be; he’s just a guy saying what he thinks and what he feels. He’s telling people not to get so caught up in this, regardless of if they criticize him or if they adore him endlessly for it. For all intents and purposes this is the Guns N’ Roses equivalent of U2’s “Acrobat”.
3) “I bought me an illusion and I put it on the wall, I let it fill my head with dreams and I had to have them all”- Locomotive, Use Your Illusion II
Oh, how dangerous ambition can be if we let ourselves run away with it. In the context of this song, it’s about a relationship that soured even though he thought it would be great. In the song, Axl was blinded by this illusion of love, and it led him into a hurtful relationship. In a greater context it serves as a reminder not to let our reach exceed our grasp, and the dangers that occur by chasing illusions. As an added bonus though, there was no way that I wasn’t going to include the song that leant its lyric to the albums’ title.
2) “An now that you’ve been broken down, got your head out of the clouds, you’re back down on the ground and you don’t talk so loud, an you don’t walk so proud any more, and what for”- Estranged, Use Your Illusion II
In all honesty go listen to the song; nothing I say can do it justice.
1) Every line of “Coma”- Coma, Use Your Illusion I
Without a doubt, this is the greatest piece of lyrics that W. Axl Rose has ever, and will ever write. Couple the lyrics with Rose’s depressively aggressive tone and it’s sure to hit you like a punch to the gut. This song is ten minutes of perfection and represents the musical pinnacle of the band. Seemingly a message to himself, I remember sitting in front of my computer as a 14 year old and staring blankly at the screen for about 15 minutes after the song had ended, wondering what the fuck I just listened to. At that point in my life, a song had only blown my mind once before, and that was listening to “Californication” for the first time as a nine year old, but “Coma” takes you for one hell of a ride that reaches its peak as Axl goes off on a four minute monologue about something so deep and personal no one else really has a clue what he’s talking about. Is he talking about drug addiction? Steven Adler? Suicide? An actual Coma? A real life event? Whatever it was that Rose based this song on, it served as the inspiration to his greatest achievement as a lyricist.