Garden of Eden by Guns N' Roses

I ain't superstitious
But I know when something's wrong
We could not make a site with songs about places without including a song about the ultimate place, can we? The Garden of Eden is literally the first place ever mentioned in the oldest narrative we have, present in the first chapter of both the Bible and the Koran, as well as other scriptures in some form or another.

Adam in the Garden of EdenAdam in the Garden of Eden
Which is not to say that this Guns 'n' Roses song is that closely tied to the place itself. "Garden of Eden," the song, is a hectic, blood-curdling, two-and-a-half minutes of frantic insanity. It is a solid wall of sound, seemingly with the entire group just playing and singing at random without any real orchestration to it. This was the band's way of grabbing your attention. The double album Use Your Illusion I and II was kind of the final hit by Guns 'n' Roses - and they knew it.

The theme of the Garden of Eden used in the song (as close as anybody can suss it, anyway) is one of fallen man. Eden is our paradise denied; it is given as the explanation for why man must always be cursed to a half-god state, too smart to be satisfied with being an animal, too like a monkey to soar through the galaxy like supreme beings. We are a tragically gifted, but flawed, species, and Eden sums this tragedy up in two syllables. Surely, we must be like this because we pissed off a deity. What else could it be?

Of course, Eden as a concept is one absolutely dripping with symbolism. This makes it handy as a reference point in all kinds of fiction. We use it as a metaphor for sexual innocence (naked young adults), corruption (the forbidden tree), paradise (our heaven on Earth), perfection (no wonder our best attempts at landscaping produce a garden effect), the birth of evil (the snake), deception (snake lies to Eve, Eve lies to Adam, both of them try to fool God), childhood (God is very much like the parent leaving the kids in the nursery to play, only to be angered by the mess he finds upon return), and even taboos (if Adam and Eve were the only humans, how did they get grandchildren?).

Walls of Babylon in Iraq<br>Photo: Jukka Palm, DreamstimeWalls of Babylon in Iraq
Photo: Jukka Palm, Dreamstime
The exact location of the Eden of scripture is and will probably always remain an elusive mystery which is the subject of countless theories. Most scholars put it somewhere in the Middle East, most commonly somewhere by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where they flow into the Persian Gulf - in other words, Iraq. This jibes with a lot of archaeological evidence, such as the ruins of the ancient Sumerian civilization. Other names for the area include Mesopotamia, Babylon, and the Cradle of Civilization. It has evidence of the first agriculture, first writing, and recorded evidence of pottery and the wheel, indicating the first time humans had attempted to create a civilization for themselves beyond trying to exist in a cave and wielding a stone club.

But other theories place Eden anywhere from southern Turkey to Iran to Scotland to Jackson County, Missouri. Indeed, there's so many creation myths to choose from, one might as well stand back and throw a dart at a world map.

Perhaps if we deserved our Eden, we would have done something about keeping track of the place, no?

Pete Trbovich
May 2, 2010


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