Civil War (song)

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"Civil War"
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion II
A-side "Civil War" (LP Version)
B-side "Exclusive Interview with Slash" (March 1993)
Released May 3, 1993
Format CD single
Recorded June 1990
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 7:40
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan
Producer(s) Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Civil War"
"Ain't It Fun"

"Civil War" is a song by the rock band Guns N' Roses, which originally appeared on the 1990 compilation Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal and later on the 1991 album Use Your Illusion II. It is a protest song on war, referring to all war as "civil war" and stating that war only "feeds the rich while it buries the poor". In the song, singer Axl Rose asks, "What's so civil about war, anyway?"

It was released as a single in 1993 in several regions. Several regions in which the single was not released instead saw the release of The "Civil War" EP.


"Civil War" was the brainchild of the Guns N' Roses artists Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan. Slash stated that the song was an instrumental he had written right before the band left for the Japanese leg of its Appetite for Destruction world tour. Axl wrote lyrics and it was worked into a proper song at a sound check in Melbourne, Australia.[1] On September 27, 1993, Duff McKagan explained where the song came from in an interview on Rockline:

Basically it was a riff that we would do at sound-checks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And... I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that's when: "Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: 'Peace could last forever'?" It's just true-life experiences, really.[2]

Track listings[edit]

UK CD (The "Civil War" EP)
No. Title Length
1. "Civil War (LP Version)"    
2. "Garden of Eden (LP Version)"    
3. "Dead Horse (LP Version)"    
4. "Exclusive Interview with Slash (March 1993)"    
Germany CD
No. Title Length
1. "Civil War (LP Version)"    
2. "Garden of Eden (LP Version)"    
3. "Exclusive Interview with Slash (March 1993)"    
Australia and Japan CD
No. Title Length
1. "Civil War (LP Version)"    
2. "Don't Damn Me (LP Version)"    
3. "Back off Bitch (LP Version)"    
4. "Exclusive Interview with Slash (March 1993)"    


Allusions, Sampling, and Trivia[edit]

  • It quotes a speech by Peruvian Shining Path guerrilla officer saying "We practice selective annihilation of mayors and government officials, for example, to create a vacuum, then we fill that vacuum. As popular war advances, peace is closer".[4]
  • Of all the 30 combined tracks on the Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, "Civil War" (Track #1 on Use Your Illusion II) is the sole track to be recorded featuring original Guns N' Roses drummer, Steven Adler, who was fired shortly after the track's recording in 1990. Adler was replaced by then The Cult drummer, Matt Sorum, the drummer for all other 29 tracks on the two-disc set.

Live Version[edit]

The song was first played at Farm Aid 1990, this was the first and last time the song was played with original drummer Steven Adler. The song was played many times in 1991 and 1992, though after 1992 the song was not performed again until December 4th, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. As of 2014, the song is played at almost every show.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 239
  2. ^ McKagan, Duff (September 27, 1993). Interview. Interview with Bob Coburn. Rockline. Los Angeles. 
  3. ^ Bond, Callan (February 8, 2006). "Questions and Answers". Cool Movie Trivia. 
  4. ^ de Lama, George (9 July 1989). "`More War Will Bring Peace,` Say Peru`s Maoists After 15,000 Die". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 

External links[edit]