November Rain

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"November Rain"
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion I
B-side"Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version)
ReleasedFebruary 18, 1992
Recorded1990–1991 at A&M Studios, Record Plant Studios, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios, Northstar Recordings (Portland, OR) (violins), Metalworks Recording Studios, Skip Saylor Recording (album mixing)
GenreHard rock
Length8:57 (album version)
4:43 (radio edit)
Songwriter(s)Axl Rose
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
"November Rain"
Audio sample
"November Rain"
Music video
"November Rain" 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, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of that chart. It is also the third longest song to enter the Hot 100 chart (second longest at the time of its release).[1] The song reached number one on the Polish LP3 Chart, number four on the UK Singles Chart, number five on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and the top 10 on several other music charts around the world.

Since its release, the song has sold over a million copies worldwide and has been described as "one of the ultimate hard-rock power ballads".[2]


Slash states in his autobiography that an 18-minute version of "November Rain" was recorded at a session with guitarist Manny Charlton (of rock band Nazareth) in 1986, before the recording sessions for Appetite for Destruction began.[3]:151

According to a story Axl Rose told an audience during the 2006 leg of the Chinese Democracy Tour, none of the other band members had wanted to partake in the production of this song (or the other notable ballad "Estranged"). Slash and McKagan were particularly opposed to the drift to symphonic ballads, and felt their choice of more direct rock songs were being overlooked by Rose. However, Rose talked them into it over discussions at Can-Am Studios (where some of the album was recorded and mixed). Claims of such harsh musical differences were specifically disputed by Slash in his autobiography.[3]:454

Slash has said that the solo he played in the album version of the song (it is unclear which) was the same solo he improvised upon hearing it for the first time.[3]:316[4]

Song information[edit]

At 8:57 minutes long, it is the second-longest song on the album, the longest being the 10:14 "Coma". It is the third-longest song by Guns N' Roses, behind the 9:24 "Estranged" from Use Your Illusion II. "We call it 'the Layla song'," joked Slash.[5]

Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by Rose.[3]:318[6] Most live performances during the Use Your Illusion tour lacked the orchestral backing of the song (the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards being the best-known exception).

It is the longest song ever to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.[7][8]

"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.[9] 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".[10]

The song was placed at number 140 on Pitchfork's "Top 200 Tracks of the 90s".[11] In Chile, the song was placed at number 73 on Chilean radio Rock & Pop.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

Although "November Rain" peaked at number nine in Germany, it remained on the chart for 51 weeks.[13]

In Australia, "November Rain" stayed in the top 10 for 24 weeks, the longest of any non-chart-topper in history,[citation needed] and reached number two on the end-of-year chart despite only reaching number 5.[14] It was featured on the year-end charts in two consecutive years (1992 and 1993, where it appeared at 36).[15][16] A similar situation took place in New Zealand, where the song peaked at number 7 but stayed in the top 20 for 24 non-consecutive weeks, ending 1992 as New Zealand's second best-selling single.[17][18]

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,[19] portrays Rose marrying his then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour, intercut with a live performance in a theater. Particularly, it can be noted for its large budget (about $1 million, including Seymour's dress) and cinematography by Mike Southon, which won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography. It is one of the most expensive music videos ever.[20] Slash is prominently featured, including a sequence of helicopter shots swooping around him as he plays the first guitar solo and a later scene where he plays the third solo while standing on Rose's piano onstage. Casting coordinator Mark Roberton observed; "the camera-man had a lot of responsibility, as the crane-cam was so close to Slash, precariously stood atop a piano that was near the stage edge. One wrong twitch and the guitarist would've had a long drop!" The video for "November Rain" uses the full version of the song as opposed to an abridged version. The Orpheum Theater, a theater in downtown Los Angeles, was acquired for an evening shoot that went several hours into the night.

The main plot of the video involves Axl marrying his love interest (Seymour) in a church surrounded by bandmates and friends, with foreshadowing of Seymour's depression (notably when she enters the car after the wedding). The subsequent wedding reception is interrupted by rain. The Seymour character dies. Her casket shows a mirror in lieu of the opposite side of the head, which commonly used for head injury, thus implying a suicide by gunshot. Axl is shown heartbroken. The band and friends attend her funeral, which is once again interrupted by a titular November rain.

For the outside shots of Slash while he is playing the first solo, Rose had originally envisioned it taking place in a "cool field" of sorts. However, since the video was shot in winter, there were no good-looking fields around, and eventually the band decided to use a church in New Mexico. Coincidentally, this was the same church used in the movie Silverado.[21]

Brad Hartmaier was the production designer for the New Mexico sequences at the Silverado Movie Ranch. Working from sketches he made while sitting in the hotel bar, Hartmaier managed to build and dress two church sets with the help of local crews. The exterior church set consisted of a dilapidated old building that was trucked out to the middle of a large prairie and turned into the prominent church in the video. Multiple crews worked for 24 hours straight building the main church and a duplicate interior church set complete with fly away walls, hand-made cathedral windows and decorations befitting the southwestern region where it was shot. Hartmaier was in the church with a walkie-talkie with Slash as a helicopter circled above for the big shot. Slash asked him what he did and he replied, "I'm the production designer, slash art director slash prop man, slash painter, slash mad scientist." Slash quickly replied with a chuckle...'Ha ha, I'm just Slash.'" Hartmaier later said of working on the video, "It was the best experience of my life."

Nigel Phelps was the original production designer; Hartmaier was the art director for the Los Angeles video segments, then later became the production designer for the New Mexico segments after Phelps moved onto a feature film during the later part of the making of the video.

The priest in the video, an Italian man named Gianantonio, was a friend of Rose. Unbeknownst to the band, the church used for the interior shots was where the priest had performed some of his last services, eight years prior to the shooting of the video.

The music videos for "November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged" form an unofficial trilogy of sorts. While never specifically confirmed by the band, Rose and Del James (whose short story "Without You" served as inspiration for the video, for which he was credited at the end) have made statements supporting this idea.[22][23] The similarity in production, style and plots can be considered evidence of this intent.

In July 2018, it became the first video made before YouTube's founding to surpass one billion views,[24] as well as the first music video from the 1990s to hit over a billion YouTube streams.[25] As of August 2020 the video has received over 1.4 billion views.

Live performances[edit]

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

Before release of Use Your Illusion I, the song was first played live at Deer Creek Music Center on May 29, 1991. "November Rain" has been a staple at Guns N' Roses concerts ever since it was released in 1991. The song is usually preceded by Rose, sometimes playing "It's Alright" by Black Sabbath or "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John on piano. The main part of the song was played acoustically during the 1993 legs of Use Your Illusion Tour, with a normal, though punchier outro. During the Chinese Democracy Tour, each of the guitar solos were played by a different guitarist. Robin Finck (2001-2002) or Richard Fortus (2002–2014) plays the first one, Finck (2001–2007) or DJ Ashba (2009–2014) plays the second one, and Buckethead (2001–2002) or Bumblefoot (2006–2014) plays the final solo. Since 2001, Rose oversings the two last outro verses.

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.[26]

Track listings[edit]

CD maxi
1."November Rain"Axl Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Slash, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler5:55
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55
7" maxi
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55
12" maxi
1."November Rain"Rose8:57
2."Sweet Child o' Mine"Rose, Stradlin, Slash, McKagan, Adler5:55


Guns N' Roses

Additional musicians

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



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[53] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[54] Gold 45,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[55] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[56] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Netherlands (NVPI)[57] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[58] Platinum 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Gold 400,000^
United States (RIAA)[60] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


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  60. ^ "American single certifications – Guns N' Roses – November Rain". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 31, 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]