Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine

First Hit #1: September 10, 1988

The opening riff of Sweet Child o’ Mine is distinct, it’s memorable, but it kind of sounds like a joke. Like Slash was goofing around and showing he could make the guitar sound like a siren. It’s silly, it’s kind of a goof, but then again, it’s sort of secretly brilliant too. It’s certainly distinct enough to catch your ear, and as a base for the song the guitar work quickly goes quite a bit more ambitious than the goof that begins the song, while still respecting it as a base. The song fits the ’88 mold of being an unexpected ballad – albeit firmly in the power ballad spectrum. The lyrics themselves are interested, possibly either about a lover or the singer’s actual child, and yet somehow never coming across as creepy in spite of the ambiguity – it’s the elaborate similes, they are extremely affectionate without being sexual, which is a difficult trick to pull off.

The song and Guns ‘n’ Roses career aren’t too far off. They both kind of start off goofy – as scary as the band might have been to parents in the late ’80s, it still owes a debt to hair metal, which is on par with K-pop when it comes to sheer goofiness – they get serious quickly, and then it kind of gets self indulgent at the end and takes longer than it probably should to wrap up – the “where do we go” repetition overstays its welcome. But still, I enjoy it.

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One Response to Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine

  1. RBerman says:

    This conundrum of a song begins with a harmonic-driven riff greatly indebted to “Every Breath You Take” before kicking into a syrupy love ballad (“Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place/ Where as a I child I would hide…”) suitable for a non-ironic and Grammy-winning Sheryl Crow cover ( This from a band that wanted to seem really dangerous (Cigarettes! Slovenly hair and dress!) compared to Poison and Cinderella, but really weren’t. A few years later they’d release eight minute piano ballads and become the butt of jokes by *really* grungy bands like Nirvana. Axl clearly has a thing for Robert Plant’s impersonation of Janis Joplin but never mastered Plant’s strut.

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