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Why Every Band Needs Their Own 'November Rain'

I listen to music when I work. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember, from high school, through college then at my “real jobs.”

My most recent real job is ending soon – at the end of next month and I couldn’t be happier. Finally, after years and years of trudging through work that meant nothing to me, I’m turning the tables and doing what I want with my life. Yes, I’m about to become a full-time writer. It’s what I should have been doing all along, but an expensive wedding, buying a home, needing a car and paying for school all sort of got in the way. No more. In 27 days, I’ll be a 100% full time writer, working on my own schedule, writing about music as much as I want. I’ll also be penning a book, which sort of leads me back off this circuitous path and to today’s topic at hand.

While working on corporate webcast slideware, I popped on some classic Guns n’ Roses and pretended I was somewhere else. As I clicked through the Illusion records, a thought crossed my mind: “Does every band strive for a ‘November Rain’ song, and will I basically be doing the same thing during my writing career?” I think the answer is an unequivocal "yes."

I’m sure a lot of you can name every GnR song ever recorded. The thing is, you and me, we’re different. We’re the metal music elite – we can talk with much educated authority about any 80s band you throw at us. It’s like a quirky parlor game. Trot us out to your friends! Step right up, try to stump us, one and all! Of course, for the masses, a lot of people only know “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “November Rain.” The latter being the more grand and complicated of the GnR canon. Of course, every band wants (needs?) a “November Rain.” Every band wants (needs?) something great in their catalog.

As you well know, “November Rain” is one of GnR’s oldest songs. Axl Rose worked on the thing for years and years, trying to get it just right. It was only after success came knocking that the band had enough money to make Axl’s vision a reality. But isn’t that the point? Guns really struggled. They were honestly broke and tried to get signed. They worked hard at getting gigs and writing songs and Axl knew he had something – he just had to invest the time to eventually create “November Rain.”

Bands these days want a “November Rain” song without actually working for it. Some are just as happy to hire an outside writer to create their grand opus. Others try to create a signature song that may well be even better than “November Rain” but no one will ever hear it because 1) the band is dropped from their label within six months or 2) the song never receives radio or video play. You can’t really create “November Rain” through having a song featured on Guitar Hero. Magic just doesn’t work that way.

So, I’m waiting for the next “November Rain” while eagerly trying to plot out my own little writing masterpiece. Thing is, I get what Axl and company did: they worked toward their goal and it took time. I guess I’m lucky to have the time. I hope the next great rock band has the time, too. 

Reader Comments (7)

What's the book going to be about? My bet is Adam Lambert.
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGEO II
Great piece.
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
Congrats on your new job! I'm excited for you...and jealous. ;)
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Sixx
Congrats on you new venture. I'm happy for you and wish you the best of luck!
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Congratulations! This is the most poignant post I've seen from you in a while. A thousand times over, good luck!!
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermom2ross
Congrats Ally. Kick some serious ass in your new career!!
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Very thoughtful piece on G'n'R, Al.

You draw interesting parallels between Axl's pushing himself creatively with "November Rain" and the level of excellence you are striving for.

As for my opinion regarding the past, present and future of G'n'R, go to "comments" on your recent blog, "Why Does Axl Rose Seemingly Hate America Now?"...

I wish you all the succees and I can't wait to read anything and everything with your byline. I'll be lookin' for it and if Rolling Stone or Mojo, etc., let alone Simon & Shuster, et al, are smart, they'll be lookin' for it, too!

Actually they need only to look at your blogs on your wonderful web site to be able to tell what a great writer you are, including this current piece!

Cheers and Congrats, once again, Al...
October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!

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