Sweet Child o' Mine

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"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine.png
1988 US vinyl issue
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Appetite for Destruction
B-side
Released
  • August 17, 1988 (1988-08-17) (US)
  • May 29, 1989 (1989-05-29) (UK)
Format
Recorded 1987
Genre Hard rock
Length
  • 5:56 (album version)
  • 4:59 (single version)
Label Geffen
Songwriter(s) Guns N' Roses
Producer(s) Mike Clink
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Welcome to the Jungle"
(1987)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1988)
"Paradise City"
(1988)
Music video
"Sweet Child o' Mine" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is a song by American rock band Guns N' Roses, appearing on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Released in August 1988 as the album's third single, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[1] becoming the band's only number 1 US single. Billboard ranked it the number 5 song of 1988.[2] Re-released in 1989, it reached number 6 on the UK Singles Chart.[3] Guitarist Slash said in 1990, "[The song] turned into a huge hit and now it makes me sick. I mean, I like it, but I hate what it represents."[4]

Background and composition[edit]

The thing about 'Sweet Child o' Mine,' it was written in five minutes. It was one of those songs, only three chords. You know that guitar lick Slash does at the beginning? It was kinda like a joke because we thought, 'What is this song? It's gonna be nothing, it'll be filler on the record.' And except that vocal-wise, it's very sweet and sincere, Slash was just fuckin' around when he first wrote that lick.

Duff McKagan, 1988[5]

Slash has been quoted as having an initial disdain for the song due to its roots as simply a "string skipping" exercise and a joke at the time.[5] During a jam session at the band's house in the Sunset Strip,[6] drummer Steven Adler and Slash were warming up and Slash began to play a "circus" melody while making faces at Adler. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin asked Slash to play it again. Stradlin came up with some chords, Duff McKagan created a bassline and Adler planned a beat. In his autobiography, Slash said "within an hour my guitar exercise had become something else". Lead singer Axl Rose was listening to the musicians upstairs in his room and was inspired to write lyrics, which he completed by the following afternoon.[7] He based it on his girlfriend Erin Everly, and declared that Lynyrd Skynyrd served as an inspiration "to make sure that we'd got that heartfelt feeling".[6] On the next composing session in Burbank, the band added a bridge and a guitar solo.[7]

When the band recorded demos with producer Spencer Proffer, he suggested adding a breakdown at the song's end. The musicians agreed, but were not sure what to do. Listening to the demo in a loop, Rose started saying to himself, "Where do we go? Where do we go now?" and Proffer suggested that he sing that.[7]

Music video[edit]

The "Sweet Child o' Mine" video depicts the band rehearsing in the Huntington Ballroom at Huntington Beach, surrounded by crew members. All of the band members' girlfriends at the time were shown in the clip: Rose's girlfriend Erin Everly, whose father is Don Everly of The Everly Brothers; McKagan's girlfriend Mandy Brix, from the all-female rock band the Lame Flames; Stradlin's girlfriend Angela Nicoletti; Adler's girlfriend Cheryl Swiderski; and Slash's girlfriend Sally McLaughlin. Stradlin's dog was also featured. The video was successful on MTV, and helped launch the song to success on mainstream radio.

To make "Sweet Child o' Mine" more marketable to MTV and radio stations, the song was cut from 5:56 to 4:59, for the video/radio edit, with much of Slash's solo removed. This drew the ire of the band, including Rose, who commented on it in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone: "I hate the radio edit of 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." "My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of 'Paradise City' or half of 'Sweet Child' and 'Patience' cut, you're getting screwed." The video uses the same edits as the radio version.

A 7-inch vinyl format and cassette single were released. The album version of the song was included on the US single release, while the UK single was the "edit/remix" version. The 12" vinyl format also contained the longer LP version. The b-side to the single is a non-album, live version of "It's So Easy".

On an interview on Eddie Trunk's New York radio show in May 2006, Rose stated that his original concept for the video focused on the theme of drug trafficking. According to Rose, the video was to depict an Asian woman carrying a baby into a foreign land, only to discover at the end that the child was dead and filled with heroin. This concept was rejected by Geffen Records.

There is also an alternative video for "Sweet Child o' Mine" in the same place, but with different shots and filmed in black & white.[8]

Reception[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine" placed number 37 on Guitar World's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos." It also came in at number 3 on Blender's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and at number 198 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[9] In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 6 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. On a 2004 Total Guitar magazine poll, the introduction's famous riff was voted number 1 riff of all-time by the readers of the magazine.[10] It was also in Rolling Stone's 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World. It places number 7 in VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '80s", and placed number 210 on the RIAA Songs of the Century list.

The song is currently ranked as the 104th greatest song of all time, as well as the best song of 1987, by Acclaimed Music.[11] The song has sold 2,609,000 digital copies in the United States as of March 2012.[12]

Australian Crawl controversy[edit]

In 2015, the web page of the Australian music TV channel MAX published an article by music writer Nathan Jolly that noted similarities between "Sweet Child o' Mine" and the song "Unpublished Critics" by the Australian band Australian Crawl, from 1981.[13] The article included both songs, inviting readers to compare the two. It also cited a reader's comment on an earlier article[14] that had originally drawn attention to the similarities between the songs. As of May 2015, this comment no longer appeared on the earlier article. The story went viral[15] quickly, encouraging several comments on both the MAX article and the suggestion that "Unpublished Critics" had influenced "Sweet Child o' Mine",[16][17][18][19] including one from Duff McKagan, bass player with Guns N' Roses when "Sweet Child o' Mine" was written and recorded.[20] McKagan found the similarities between the songs "stunning," but said he had not previously heard "Unpublished Critics."[21]

Formats and track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Guns N' Roses except where noted.

US 7" vinyl (27963-7)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version)5:55
2."It's So Easy" (Live at The Marquee Club 06.28.1987) 
UK 7" vinyl (GEF 43)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit)3:57
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)4:20
Total length:8:17
UK 10" vinyl (GEF 43TE), 12" vinyl (GEF 43T), 12" vinyl Metallic Sleeve(GEF 43TV)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version)5:55
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)4:20
3."Rocket Queen" (LP Version) 
UK re-release 7" vinyl (GEF 55)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit)3:57
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)4:20
UK re-release 12" vinyl (GEF 55T), 3" CD (GEF 55CD)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version) 5:55
2."Move to the City" (LP Version)Guns N' Roses, Del James, Chris Weber 
3."Whole Lotta Rosie" (Live AC/DC Cover)Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott 
4."It's So Easy" (Live)Guns N' Roses, West Arkeen 

Personnel[edit]

Sheryl Crow cover[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Sweet child shreyl crow.jpg
Single by Sheryl Crow
from the album Big Daddy soundtrack
Released June 22, 1999 (1999-06-22)
Genre Rock
Length 3:49
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Guns N' Roses
Producer(s) Rick Rubin, Sheryl Crow
single singles chronology
"Anything but Down"
(1999)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1999)
"Soak Up the Sun"
(2002)

The song was covered by Sheryl Crow on the soundtrack to Big Daddy, and released as a bonus track on her third studio album, The Globe Sessions. This version earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The recording was produced by Rick Rubin and Crow. A music video for Crow's version was also released, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui.[22] Crow performed the song live at Woodstock '99.[23] Ultimate Classic Rock profiled the song as part of a series on "Terrible Classic Rock Covers",[24] and Rolling Stone readers named it the 4th worst cover song of all-time.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

"Sweet Child O' Mine" has been used in several films, such as:

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Artist Chart History - Guns N' Roses". Billboard. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1988
  3. ^ "Guns N' Roses". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  4. ^ Rowland, Mark (February 1991). "LA Law and Disorder". Select, reprinted from Musician. p. 45. 
  5. ^ a b Meaning Behind Songs - N.I. Archived December 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b "Here Today... Gone To Hell! - Articles > The Story Behind The Song - Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine"". heretodaygonetohell.com. 
  7. ^ a b c Slash; Bozza, Anthony (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-0-00-725775-1. 
  8. ^ "Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine". YouTube. December 24, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Guns N' Roses top rock riff poll". BBC News. May 2, 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". Acclaimed Music. August 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Week Ending March 18, 2012. Songs: Your '80s Party Mix-Tape". Yahoo! Music. March 21, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  13. ^ "How similar is 'Sweet Child O Mine' to a 1981 Australian Crawl song?". maxtv.com.au. Archived from the original on June 19, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Slash is open to a Gunners reunion: 'Never say never'". maxtv.com.au. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Guns N Roses Sweet Child O Mine comes under plagiarism charges - ViralNewsChart via Consequence of Sound". ViralNewsChart. May 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Australian Crawl fans spark online debate after pointing out similarities with Guns N' Roses hit". NewsComAu. 
  17. ^ "Did Guns N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' Copy Australian Crawl's 'Unpublished Critics'?". Billboard. 
  18. ^ "Guns N' Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine' Plagiarism Claims Laughed Off by Australian Crawl Singer". Ultimate Classic Rock. 
  19. ^ Tan, Monica. "James Reyne responds to Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine plagiarism rumours". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ "Duff McKagan: Guns N' Roses Didn't Plagiarize on 'Sweet Child O' Mine'". Radio.com. 
  21. ^ "Duff McKagan on the Aussie Crawl song: 'It is pretty stunning... but we didn't steal it from them'". maxtv.com.au. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Sheryl Crow to Release 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' Her Special Version of the Rock Classic, in June". Thefreelibrary.com. June 1, 1999. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Woodstock '99 Report #15: Sheryl Crow Act Short On Theatrics, Long On Emotion". 
  24. ^ "Sheryl Crow, 'Sweet Child O' Mine' - Terrible Classic Rock Covers". Ultimate Classic Rock. 
  25. ^ Stone, Rolling (August 18, 2011). "Rolling Stone Readers Choose the Worst Cover Songs of All Time". 
  26. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  27. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  28. ^ "Ultratop.be – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  29. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8543." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  30. ^ Pennanen, Timo. Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2003. ISBN 951-1-21053-X
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Guns N' Roses". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  32. ^ "Charts.nz – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  33. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  34. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  35. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  36. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  37. ^ "Guns N' Roses: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  38. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  39. ^ "Guns N' Roses Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  40. ^ "Guns N' Roses Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  41. ^ "Italian single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 
  42. ^ "British single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". British Phonographic Industry.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Sweet Child O' Mine in the search field and then press Enter.
  43. ^ "American certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  44. ^ Grein, Paul (February 19, 2014). "Chart Watch: 'Dark Horse' Holds Off 'Happy'". Yahoo!Music. Yahoo. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]