Paradise City

by Guns ‘n’ Roses

~ The Surgeon General makes an appearance ~

Paradise City was a rare single they could release without a language edit (which, let’s be honest, is why they released Nightrain instead of Mr Brownstone), but at 6:40+ it’s one of the longest singles to ever hit the top 40.  And there’s not an editable moment in it that could shorten the song.  How many radio edits have ever dumped a key riff to shorten the song for airplay?  (Yes, I’m looking at you, Stone Roses, for neutering Love Spreads on the radio edit).

Paradise City doesn’t have multiple guitar solos, it’s one – all song long.  Seriously.  Give it a listen and see how many lead lines Slash is weaving underneath Axl’s frenetic vocals rushing the song along.  The entire tune moves at breakneck speed not just because of the hyperactive singing, repeating the “I gotta go” mantra that’s a theme throughout the album, but also because Slash is weaving an entirely alternate melody underneath the vocals.

It’s not just the 85-in-a-school-zone pace of the tune, though, as the turns of phrase are just as brilliant as any other GnR tune:  “Captain America’s been torn apart / now he’s a court jester with a broken heart” demythologizes the place they hope to escape from just as much as the “girls are pretty” gives them something to aspire to.  And who wants to be “strapped in the chair of the city’s gas chamber” where the “surgeon general says its hazardous to breathe” – seriously, has the freakin’ Surgeon General ever been feted in song before?  C’mon!

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