November Rain

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"November Rain"
Novemberrain.jpg
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion I
B-side"Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version)
ReleasedFebruary 1992 (1992-02)
Recorded1990–1991
Studio
  • A&M
  • Record Plant
  • Studio 56
  • Image Recording
  • Conway
  • Northstar Recordings (violins)
  • Metalworks Recording
  • Skip Saylor Recording (album mixing)
Genre
Length
  • 8:57 (album version)
  • 4:43 (radio edit)
LabelGeffen
Songwriter(s)Axl Rose
Producer(s)
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Live and Let Die"
(1991)
"November Rain"
(1992)
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
(1992)
Music videos
"November Rain" on YouTube
"November Rain" (2022) on YouTube

"November Rain" is a song by the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses. Written by the band's lead vocalist Axl Rose, it was released as a single in 1992 from their third studio album, Use Your Illusion I (1991).

"November Rain" peaked at number three on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart, and was the longest song to enter the top ten of that chart at the time of its release. Currently, the song is the fourth longest song to enter the Hot 100 chart.[5] The song reached number two on the Portuguese Singles Chart, number four on the UK Singles Chart, and the top 10 on several other music charts around the world.

History[edit]

Slash states in his autobiography that the band recorded in 1986 an 18-minute version of "November Rain" at a session with guitarist Manny Charlton (of rock band Nazareth) the year prior to beginning sessions for Appetite for Destruction.[6]: 151 

According to a story Axl Rose reported during the 2006 leg of the Chinese Democracy Tour, no other band members wanted to participate in the production of this song (or the other notable ballad "Estranged"). Slash and Duff McKagan were opposed to the band's drift to symphonic ballads, feeling their choice of more direct rock songs were being overlooked by Rose. Eventually, Rose persuaded the others during work at Can-Am Studios (where some of the album was recorded and mixed). Slash disputed Axl's claims of harsh musical differences in his autobiography released the next year.[6]: 454 

Slash reported that his guitar solo in the song's album version developed directly from an improvisation.[6]: 316 [7]

Song information[edit]

"November Rain" is the third-longest song by Guns N' Roses, behind "Coma" (10:14) from the same album, and "Estranged" (9:24) from Use Your Illusion II. According to Slash, Axl wrote the song “about a time someone bent his fingers back like he was a little baby.” It was the longest song ever to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 until November 2021, when surpassed by Taylor Swift's extended rerecording of "All Too Well".[8][9][10] The song's composition was influenced by Elton John's 1973 opus “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”.[11]

Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by Rose.[6]: 318 [12] "We call it 'the Layla song'," joked Slash, referencing a similarly-constructed rock song with a long, instrumental second part.[13]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, the song peaked at #3 for two weeks in 1992, making it their sixth and last top ten hit. It was in the top-10 for ten weeks, for a total of 30 weeks on the charts.[14]

"November Rain" peaked at number nine in Germany and remained on the chart for 51 weeks.[15]

In Australia, "November Rain" reached number two on the 1992 end-of-year chart despite only reaching number five on the ARIA Singles Chart.[16] It was featured on ARIA's year-end charts in two consecutive years (1992 and 1993, when it appeared at 36).[17][18] A similar situation took place in New Zealand, where the song peaked at number seven but stayed in the top 20 for 24 non-consecutive weeks, ending 1992 as New Zealand's second best-selling single.[19][20]

Music video[edit]

Composite image of the wedding dress from the "November Rain" music video worn by Stephanie Seymour.

The music video, directed by Andy Morahan,[21] was inspired by Del James's short story "Without You", for which he is credited in the long version of the video. The short story portrays a rock star struggling to come to terms with the loss of his girlfriend, who died by suicide (gunshot) after he repeatedly strayed from their relationship. November Rain is one of the most expensive music videos ever.[22]

The video tells a story reminiscent of Without You, and features a live performance footage from Los Angeles' Orpheum Theater.[23] First, in a black-and-white sequence, Rose's character is seen going to bed and taking pills; a bottle of whisky is also visible next to him. The scene, now in color, changes to the wedding of the main characters, played by Rose and his then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour. The other band members are among the many guests.

Slash's character realizes he forgot the wedding rings, when McKagan's character offers his rings as a substitute. After the wedding couple leaves the church, we see the wedding reception which is later interrupted by sudden, heavy rain, causing everyone to run for shelter.

The next scene shows a funeral at the same church. Rose's character grieves at the death of his wife, now inside a casket. A heavy rain falls upon the cemetery.

A final scene shows Seymour's character back at the wedding, tossing her white bouquet, which turns red in the air and lands on her coffin. Black and white scenes Rose's character's nightmares show a mix of wedding and funeral scenes.

For the outside shots of Slash's first guitar solo, Rose had originally envisioned it taking place in a "cool field". However, since the video was shot in winter, there were no good-looking fields around, and the band decided to film in New Mexico, where they had a church building transported specifically for the shoot.[23] The larger church, for the wedding scenes, is Los Angeles' St. Brendan Catholic Church.[23]

The music videos for "November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged" form an unofficial trilogy of sorts. While never specifically confirmed by the band, Del James' short story "Without You" served as inspiration for the video, and received recognition in the video's end credits.

In July 2018, the music video became the first video created prior to YouTube to surpass one billion views.[24][25]

On November 4, 2022 the same performance as the original video is published on YouTube, but resynced with the newly recorded, with a real 50-piece orchestra, conducted and arranged by Christopher Lennertz.[26] The track was mixed by Steven Wilson replacing the sampled sounds used on the original mix.[27][4] This music video was released to promote the Use Your Illusion (Super Deluxe Edition) box set.[28]

Live performances[edit]

Axl Rose performing "November Rain" at Nottingham Arena, Nottingham, UK, in May 2012.

The band performed a nearly nine-minute live version of the song with British musician Elton John on piano at the end of the 1992 VMAs ceremony.[11]

Reception[edit]

"November Rain" was voted number one on the Rock 1000 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1,000 rock songs by New Zealand radio listeners. It was voted number two on the 2007 version, beaten by "Back in Black" by AC/DC.[29] The song topped the "album tracks" section of a 1993 readers' poll in GN'R fanzine Controversy, beating "Coma". The top ten was completed by "Estranged", "Civil War", "Paradise City", "Sweet Child o' Mine", "Don't Cry", "Welcome to the Jungle", "Patience" and "Mr. Brownstone".[30]

The song placed number 140 on Pitchfork's "Top 200 Tracks of the 90s".[31] In Chile, the song placed at number 73 on Chilean radio Rock & Pop.[32] In 2017, Paste ranked the song number nine on their list of the 15 greatest Guns N' Roses songs,[33] and in 2020, Kerrang ranked the song number six on their list of the 20 greatest Guns N' Roses songs.[34]

NPR described the song as "one of the ultimate hard-rock power ballads",[1] while VH1 added that the song "is the sprawling, cosmic-reaching, just-so-insane-it-works hard rock epic toward which every previous single-track hard rock epic had led and from which every subsequent single-track hard rock epic has emerged".[35] Glide Magazine named the song at second in their list of "Favorite Hair-Metal Power Ballads".[3]

Track listings[edit]

CD maxi
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."November Rain"Axl Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Slash, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler5:55
3."Patience"Stradlin5:53
Cassingle
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55
7-inch maxi
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55
12-inch maxi
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55
3."Patience"Stradlin5:53

Personnel[edit]

Guns N' Roses

Additional musicians

  • Stuart Bailey – backing vocals, choir
  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals, choir
  • Johann Langlie – synthesizer programming
  • Reba Shaw – backing vocals, choir

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[60] 4× Platinum 280,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[61] Gold 45,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[62] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[63] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Netherlands (NVPI)[64] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[65] Platinum 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[66] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[67] Gold 500,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen (June 28, 2018). "Hear A Never-Before-Heard, Piano-Only Demo Of Guns N' Roses' 'November Rain'". NPR. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Newbould, Chris (November 29, 2018). "Review: Guns N' Roses start well, then, well..." The National. Retrieved August 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Bernstein, Scott (January 4, 2007). "THE B List: Favorite Hair-Metal Power Ballads". Glide Magazine. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Steven Wilson [@stevenwilsonhq] (November 5, 2022). "I mixed the new 2022 version of the @gunsnroses classic 'November Rain'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "The Longest & Shortest Hot 100 Hits: From Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce & David Bowie to Piko-Taro". Billboard. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. New York: Harper Entertainment.
  7. ^ Select, November 1996
  8. ^ 2000 Guinness World Records ISBN 0-553-58268-2
  9. ^ Feature, Guitar World Staff 2009-01-29T16:56:08Z. "50 Greatest Guitar Solos". guitarworld. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "What Do Taylor Swift, Guns N' Roses, Meatloaf, and David Bowie Have In Common? | Enstars". November 23, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Flashback: Guns N' Roses Play 'November Rain' With Elton John". Rolling Stone. April 2, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  12. ^ Guns N' Roses – The Making of 'November Rain' (part 6) on YouTube
  13. ^ Rowland, Mark (February 1991). "LA Law and Disorder". Select, reprinted from Musician. p. 46.
  14. ^ "November Rain". May 28, 2018.
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  24. ^ Thompson, Stephen (July 18, 2018). "'November Rain' Is The Oldest Song With A Billion YouTube Views – What's That Mean?". NPR. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  25. ^ Milman, Lilly (July 16, 2018). "Guns N' Roses Break YouTube Record With 'November Rain' Video: Report". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Christopher Lennertz [@clennertz] (September 20, 2022). "Been keeping this one quiet for far too long. Unbelievable experience! 18 year old me still thinks he was dreaming!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Steven Wilson remixes [@swremixes] (September 21, 2022). "The new 2022 version is the same performance as the original but with newly recorded orchestration" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Guns N' Roses [@gunsnroses] (November 4, 2022). "November Rain (2022 Version) is here!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "The Rock - New Zealand's rock radio station".
  30. ^ Controversy #6, p8, 1993
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  60. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2021 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  61. ^ "Danish single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved March 28, 2019. Scroll through the page-list below until year 2019 to obtain certification.
  62. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Guns N' Roses; 'November Rain')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  63. ^ "Italian single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved April 26, 2017. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "November Rain" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  64. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Guns 'n' Roses – November Rain" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved February 22, 2019. Enter November Rain in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1992 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle statussen"
  65. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  66. ^ "British single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  67. ^ "American single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 31, 2015.