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The lyrics and the video are based on a short story by Del James called Without You
. The story is part of a collection called The Language Of Fear
, which was brought back to market in 2008 after being out of print. The new version of the book contains an intro by Axl Rose, who wrote: "Del James has a personal knowledge of most of the situations he writes about, and has a love of the gutter from having been there." James contributed lyrics to 2 Guns N' Roses songs: The Garden and Yesterdays, and has directed several music videos. (thanks, dejaye - wagga, Australia)
The original version was 25 minutes long, and the song was edited down to 8:59. It is the longest ever Top 10 hit and contains the longest guitar solo in a Top 10 single - Slash actually plays 2 guitar solos in the song. Rose put the song's lengthy gestation period down to opposition from Slash and Duff McKagan. (thanks, joe - Boston, MA and Cole - Watertown, NY)
The video was a huge production and got a lot of play on MTV. It starred actress and model Stephanie Seymour, Axl Rose's girlfriend at the time. In the video, she and Axl get married with Slash serving as best man and the rest of the band in the front row. After the wedding, it starts raining and the next scene is Stephanie's funeral in the same church. The video cost over $1.5 million to make.
Slash (from Q magazine, July 2004): "We got into doing these huge production videos and by November Rain it was too much, just too involved. At the end of the day it was a great video but that's when I started realizing that it was getting out of hand."
This won for best cinematography at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, where it also received a Video Vanguard award. Guns N' Roses performed this at the end of the show with Elton John on piano.
The albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were released simultaneously. This was a bold move, but the band was huge and the albums both sold very well. When they were released, Use Your Illusion II was the #1 album in the US, followed by Use Your Illusion I. The last time an artist had the top 2 albums at the same time was in 1974, when 2 Jim Croce albums did it shortly after his death.
The album was released in September 1991, but this came out as a single in February, 1992.
Shannon Hoon from the group Blind Melon sang backup. Hoon, who died of a drug overdose in 1995, grew up in Lafayette, Indiana near Axl Rose.
According to a reader-submitted poll for Guitar World magazine, Slash's guitar solo for this song is ranked #6 out of 100. (thanks, Ari - Elizabeth, NJ)
Axl Rose was working on this as early as 1983. Former L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns said: "When we were doing that EP for L.A. Guns, like in 1983, he was playing 'November Rain' on piano. Way back then. It was the only thing Axl knew how to play, but it was his. He'd go: 'Someday this song is gonna be really cool.' And I'd go: 'It's cool now. But it's not done, you know.' And like anytime we'd be at a hotel or anywhere there'd be a piano, he'd just kinda play that music. And I'd go: 'When are you gonna finish that already, you know?' And he'd go: 'I don't know what to do with it.'" (thanks, Rayan - Lincoln, England)
Lean about the album cover in Song Images
. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The outfit lead guitarist Slash is wearing in the music video for "November Rain" can be seen at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando, Florida. (thanks, Anthony - Mesquite, TX)
Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy
criticized the performance of Matt Sorum, asking why the Guns N' Roses stickman played the same exact fill every four bars nearly two dozen times on this song.
Sorum responded: "That fill was Axl's idea as a musical phrase that carried on through the trilogy, "Don't Cry
" and "Estranged
." Those albums, Use Your Illusion I
, have sold 20 million combined. Remember, kids, drumming isn't all about fancy fills and splash cymbals. Ask Charlie Watts, Ringo and Phil Rudd."
Sorum has previously explained the drum fill was inspired by Nigel Olsson's work on the Elton John song "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
," after a late-night discussion with Rose.
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