|Single by Guns N' Roses|
|from the album Use Your Illusion I & II|
|A-side||"Don't Cry" (Original) (LP Version)|
|B-side||"Don't Cry" (Alt. Lyrics) (LP Version)|
|Released||September 17, 1991|
|Format||CD Single, 7", 12"|
|Recorded||A&M Studios, Record Plant Studios, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios & Metalworks Recording Studios
|Writer(s)||Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin|
|Producer(s)||Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses|
|Guns N' Roses singles chronology|
"Don't Cry" is a power ballad by the hard rock band Guns N' Roses, two versions of which were released simultaneously on different albums. The version with the original lyrics is the fourth track on Use Your Illusion I, while the version with the alternate lyrics is the 13th track on Use Your Illusion II. Only the vocal tracks differ, and even then only in the verses; however, in those verses, not only are the words entirely different, but the meter and melody are also slightly different. There is also a third version, officially released only on the single for the song, which was recorded during Appetite for Destruction sessions in 1986. The song reached the top 10 in many countries, including number 8 in the UK Singles Chart and number 10 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song features Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon on backing vocals. Shannon grew up in the small town of Dayton, Indiana, which neighbors Axl Rose's hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. The two became friends when they subsequently met in Los Angeles and discovered they were from the same state. He also appears in the video for the song. It was originally intended to be the first commercial single release before the Illusions were released in 1991, but "You Could Be Mine" was chosen instead to coincide with the release of the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
"Don't Cry" forms a segment of the Illusions Trilogy, according to singer Axl Rose. Along with "Estranged" and "November Rain," it forms a narrative inspired in part by the short story "Without You" by Del James.
During the interviews for their Making F@#$ing Videos edition for "Don't Cry", Rose stated that the song is about a woman leaving a man. The song was written about a girl that Izzy used to go out with, and Axl was attracted to. Here are some quotes from Axl about the incident: "It was [about] a girl that Izzy had gone out with, and I was really attracted to her, and they split up, and we wrote the song", "I was sitting outside the Roxy, and you know, I was like really in love with this person, and she was realising this wasn't going to work, she was doing her things, she was telling me goodbye, and I like sat down, and just started crying, and she was telling me 'don't cry'. Next night we got together and wrote the song in 5 minutes. He'd been through some things with her, himself".
The song peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's fifth Top 10 hit there.
The video for this song, like several videos for the Illusions albums, was much more cinematic than the band's previous videos had been. It depicted the central character in his courtship with his eventual wife as well as his internal battle with emotional issues. Although a sharp turn away from what fans were used to, it is still regarded as one of the best videos the band produced in its short time together.
Fans can't agree on whether this is the first or second video in the trilogy. Most fans think this is the first, showing Axl and his girlfriend having problems with their relationship (and that he was likely singing about this in "November Rain"). Another interesting, but not as accepted, theory is that this is the second video, and that after Axl's new bride dies in "November Rain" he remembers/dreams the video. At the start of the "Estranged" video, they say the S.W.A.T. team members catch Axl in his home while he is having the "Don't Cry" dream. Fans of this theory often point out that Axl is seen talking to a therapist in "Don't Cry" (while wearing a Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt), and is seen fighting with a gun (see the "November Rain" page to read more about the gun).
Another interesting point to make is that in the video, Slash theoretically killed his girlfriend by driving his 1966 Shelby GT350 off a cliff and then throwing his guitar down the same cliff afterwards.
Guitarist Izzy Stradlin, who plays the intro and is credited as co-writer of the song, had just left the band and didn't make it to the video recording, and Dizzy Reed can be seen wearing a t-shirt that reads, "Where's Izzy" (stated in Slash's Biography), and we can see a Fender Telecaster near the amps in reference to Izzy's guitar. Rose can be seen very briefly, at around the same point in the video, wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. This may be a reference to the infamous 1991 incident in which Rose dove into a St. Louis crowd in the middle of a song in pursuit of a man with a video camera, was arrested, and incited a riot. It is also shown a Hollywood Rose picture with Izzy and Axl the second after Slash throws his guitar.
A Nirvana baseball hat is visible to the side of Axl's left leg when he is lying down in the psychiatrist's office. He is also seen wearing the hat in an interview that was filmed while making the video. This interview can be seen on the mini-documentary entitled "Guns N' Roses Don't Cry: Makin' F@*!ing Videos" Rose was a big fan of Nirvana and even asked the band to play on two occasions during the Use Your Illusion Tour (Despite various live videos where Axl shows hatred towards Nirvana to the crowd, asking them what "Alternative" means. However, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain loathed Guns N' Roses (as documented in Come As You Are by Michael Azerrad, among other sources) and declined the invitation. During the 1992 MTV Music Awards, Dave Grohl repeats "Hi Axl" over and over after Nirvana's performance. This is due to what happened before the awards when Courtney Love shouted to Axl while holding their daughter, "Axl will you be her godfather" which followed a confrontation by Axl, telling Kurt to "keep his woman in line" along with profanity which led to the start a fight of which Cobain would not accept. After this event Nirvana began to tell audiences at live shows how they felt about Guns N' Roses, and how Kurt felt Axl was a womanizer. Both bands are signed to Geffen Records.
Rose commented on the difficulty of filming the video and how certain scenes inspired by the relationship with Erin Everly affected him emotionally:
With our video for "Don't Cry," and the fight that Stephanie Seymour, (Axl's current girlfriend) and I had over the gun, you don't necessarily know what's going on. But in real life that happened with Erin Everly (Axl's ex-wife) and myself. I was going to shoot myself. We fought over the gun and I finally let her win. I was kind of mentally crippled after that. Before shooting our documentary, I said, "This seems really hard, 'cause it really happened." And the night we wrote the scene, my friend Josh said, "Okay, how are you going to play that?" He wanted to rehearse and I was like, "Look, leave me alone." But he kept pushing until, finally, I stood up. I had this cigarette lighter that looked like a real gun and I said, "Look, I'm gonna do it like this." And I just went over and slammed around in the hallway a bit and threw the gun and said, "Is that good enough for you?"
And he said, "Yes!" 'Cause I knew what I was going to do and from that point on he knew that I would be able to play the parts that we were writing.
But it was a very painful process doing that and it's even weird now to be involved in a relationship where the person I'm involved with is actually playing parts that are written about the two of us, about fictional characters, about things in my past relationships. It's a very touchy thing to do.
- Axl Rose – lead vocals, production
- Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, production
- Slash – lead guitar, production
- Duff McKagan – bass, backing vocals, production
- Matt Sorum – drums, production
- Additional musicians
"Don't Cry" was performed quite frequently during the early tours and the Use Your Illusion Tour. It was absent from the first few Chinese Democracy Tour but reappeared to an extent in 2006, as guitarist Bumblefoot began using an instrumental version of the song as a guitar solo spot. In 2007, during the Bumblefoot solo spot, Axl came on stage to sing along to the solo on two occasions, marking the first times since 1993 that Axl had sung it live.
"Don't Cry" made another return during the 2009/2010 World Tour, with Axl singing along with the solo spot on each occasion that it has been played.
A chill out cover of the song by Sao Vincente featuring Ituana was included on the 2006 tribute compilation Bossa n' Roses.
Marina V covers the song on her 2010 album My Star.
A version of Don’t Cry was recorded by Murder By Death and released on their 2011 “Skeletons in the Closet” album.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||10|
|Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)||1|
|Germany (Media Control Charts)||22|
|Irish Singles Chart||1|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||7|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||2|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||3|
|U.S Billboard Hot 100||10|
|UK Singles Chart||8|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold|
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