Catcher In The Rye

Album: Chinese Democracy (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • This piano ballad originally featured Queen guitarist Brian May, who teamed up with the band in 1999 for a collaboration. However nine years later, just prior to the release of Chinese Democracy, he was disappointed to learn that his contribution have been removed from the final version of the song. May commented: "It is a shame. I was proud of it."
  • The title refers to J.D. Salinger's novel of adolescence Catcher in the Rye. Rose appears to be questioning in this song why angst-ridden youths, such as Mark Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon, appear to be motivated by the book's anti-hero Holden Caulfield. In an online chat with the GNR fan community, Rose explained his thought process behind writing the song.

    "The song is inspired by what's referred to sometimes as Holden Caulfield Syndrome," he explained. "I feel there's a possibility that how the writing is structured with the thinking of the main character could somehow re-program, for lack of a better word, some who may be a bit more vulnerable, with a skewed way of thinking, and tried to allow myself to go what may be there or somewhat close during the verses. I'd think for most those lines are enjoyed as just venting, blowing off steam, humor or some type of entertainment where it may be how others seriously live in their minds."

    He continued: "The bridge before the solo is an artistic interpretation of an institutionalized mind. The outro is a tribute to Lennon and an indictment of the author for writing what I feel is utter garbage and I agree wholeheartedly that it should be discontinued as required reading in schools. That's my take, I could be completely wrong. I do realize that the song and title could have the next poor soul reading the book and feeling inspired to make an unfortunate statement."
  • Rose explained the decision not to include May's contribution to this song in an interview with Uncut magazine: "There's a few reasons, and none of them all that big and definitely not in spite or to slight anyone. First off, obviously I knew people liked the song, but the Brian appreciation really only showed up in force publicly after we had moved on in GUNS. In fact, not many seemed to care and most comments were aimed at why Slash, in their opinions, should be here. Brian's solo itself is a personal fave of mine and I really couldn't understand, as he's such a rock legend, why it wasn't openly appreciated more at the time.

    In actuality, all that feel and emotion referred to now had a lot to do with Sean [Beavan, one of the producers who worked on Chinese Democracy] and I and the parts I chose out of Brian's different runs, versions, practice runs, etc, to make sure we had those elements in one version. It's entirely constructed from edits based around one specific note Brian hit in a throwaway take. And though Brian seems to have warmed a bit to it, at least publicly, he was unfortunately none too pleased at the time with our handiwork. I remember looking at Brian standing to my left and him staring at the big studio speakers a bit aghast saying, 'But that's not what I played.' Sean Beavan and I were not in any way trying to mess with Brian, we just did what we do and then try and do our best to stand up for our decisions."

Comments: 1

  • Dino from Bandung, IndonesiaAccording to Axl in the last chat, the song is inspired by what's referred to sometimes as Holden Caulfield syndrome. He'd think for most those lines are enjoyed as just venting, blowing off steam, humor or some type of entertainment where it may be how others seriously live in their minds. When he came up with the focus, he got a call from the director of Imagine wanting a bunch of money to make a documentary, had a guy sending him strange packages about Lennon and serial killers etc., and the web started calling him Salinger with no one knowing what he was writing. He figured he was on the right track at least for a song.
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