Matt Sorum replaced Steven Adler as GnR drummer in 1990. A former session drummer and bandmate of Tori Amos, his classical training helped bring a more classical sensibility to the band, which is best heard on this song. In our interview with Sorum
, he explained that the drum pattern came together after they had been rehearsing the song, and Axl and Matt found themselves in the studio enjoying take-out from Greenblatt's Deli. Axl, a big Elton John fan, put on the song "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
," which gave Matt an idea.
"I said, 'God, listen to the tom toms on that,'" Matt recalls. "And Axl goes, 'Yeah, that's cool. So epic.' I go, 'What if I use that sort of a phrase as pieces of the song, almost like a melody that would work into the song structure.'"
Discussing the orchestral elements in the song, Matt explained: "I worked on the arrangements for those songs, the way they broke down and the dynamics. The band wasn't really that dynamic when I joined. It was a rock band, like 'Go for it.' Just loud. 'When we're on, it's loud.' And I came from an orchestral upbringing and classical music - I was in wind ensemble. I sounded crazy to them: 'We need pianissimo instrumental right here and mezzo forte right here.' And they'd go, 'What?!?'
Pianissimo means 'quiet.' And here we're doing mezzo forte. That means 'medium loud.' Now, we're going to go double forte here, which means, Okay, go back to your regular volume. I would explain all these sections to the band, and I said, 'This needs to be a journey, you need to take people on a journey to this song.' So that's what we did on 'November Rain.'"