Axl Rose, Guns N Roses, and Chinese Democracy – Part I

I’ve been listening a lot to Chinese Democracy, the product of Axl Rose’s 17-year stint as a psychopathic hermit in Malibu. I’ve been a huge GNR fan since the 5th grade of elementary school (1986 I think?), so I’ve been looking forward to this forever. In 1999 or 2000, my then-girlfriend sent me a copy of an article in Rolling Stone where Axl talked about how the “new” album was just about ready for release. It seems that the world wasn’t yet ready for Chinese democracy.

Chinese Creativity
Axl’s creative life itself seems to be a good metaphor for Chinese democracy. Pretend to be open to other ideas, while being so paranoid that you either imprison those around you or drive them away. Back in the GNR heyday, he reportedly refused to go onstage before a concert until the entire band signed over the rights to the Guns N Roses name. Which is why he can still call himself Guns N Roses while Slash has to form a toolish band called Velvet Revolver. WTF?!

Executions On-the-Go
China allegedly still operates “mobile execution units,” vans that drive around and euthanize so-called criminals. This makes it harder for citizens to track the events, and perhaps reduces the psychological impact of executing thousands of people per year. The fact that the Chinese government banned the album Chinese Democracy shows the ridiculous truth, that their government is pathetically paranoid. Next time I’m in Shanghai, I’ll be wondering whether the van driving past is a euthanasia-mobile, or if the Falon Gong is somewhere being tortured.

I Used to Love Her But I Had to Kill Her
The long list of rotating musicians for this release also reminds me of Chinese democracy. Few “party” members survived intact, probably secretly poisoned by Axl’s spiritual advisors. But I’m not surprised. While the world needs artists like Axl Rose, few can handle working with him. In the era of Moby’s “Play”, Axl called him up and asked him to produce Chinese Democracy, but Moby turned him down. Probably a wise decision, considering that Moby might be buried in a backyard somewhere if he had signed on. 

Mad Shit Going Down
Anyway. I enjoy speculating on Axl Rose’s activities because he’s a mythical celebrity animal, a guy I imagine would’ve ended up as a serial killer if he hadn’t had a successful musical career. He doesn’t fuck around. I will be forever prejudiced to enjoy his artistic creations, because he occupies a mesmerizing space of paranoid melodrama and barbaric sensitivity that my inner beast just loves. I often have no idea what he’s talking about, but I can tell that some mad shit is going down:

Gonna call the President
Gonna call a Private Eye
Gonna get the IRS
Gonna need the FBI

Stay tuned for a more musical analysis of tracks from Chinese Democracy. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can do so here:

Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy

2 thoughts on “Axl Rose, Guns N Roses, and Chinese Democracy – Part I”

  1. I never thought of Axl’s life (or even GN’R itself) as a good model of Chinese Democracy, but that makes pretty good sense.

    It’s probably a bad idea to quibble with facts that I am unclear on myself, but….was it fifth grade that you started liking GN’R, Brian? I have to think it was a bit earlier than that. In my recollection we became friends around the very end of third grade (in 1988, I think), and I thought that you were listening to GN’R then. I could be wrong, but fifth grade seems late to me.

    I am anxiously awaiting the track-by-track breakdown, especially of Madagascar. I seriously need someone to tell me what the hell is going on in that song.

  2. Hey Will, I would have to do some calibrations in the laboratory with radioactive isotopes to determine conclusively when I started listening to GNR. But now that I think of it, I recall an incident in 3rd grade where this kid said he was going to a GNR concert and was going to get us GNR t-shirts. He never brought in the t-shirts, and I think he was lying to us because he wanted to be cool or something. So you are probably correct.

    I’ve been reading the latest biography of GNR, “Watch You Bleed” I think it’s called, and it makes life in China seem like a party compared to life with Axl. Maybe he should’ve called the album North Korean Death Squad.

    It’s funny that you mention Madagascar. That song stands out to me as the most compelling track on the album, for several reasons. I hope to make some literary sense of it when I apply my powers of imagination to the album’s tracks, which will be forthcoming.

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