Oh, November, how often you torment me. Aside from Thanksgiving, you can be a pretty harsh month. No sun for days, rain instead of snow, very little daylight. A quick search reveals November is the declared Awareness Month for Epilepsy, American Diabetes, Lung, Pancreatic, Prostate, and Stomach Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, Homeless Youth, and Souls in Purgatory. Is this a coincidence? I am not so sure. It is also National Novel Writing Month, which, when added to this roster of delights makes a sick sort of sense. I’d like to petition the additions of The Benefits of Ingesting Vitamin D Awareness Month, and perhaps Scotch Appreciation Month, too, as long as we’re continuing with the health-awareness theme.
But I’m not trying to get too morose or poetic here. No, no, why bother when someone else has said all there is to say about the melancholy of this dark month and its ubiquitous, monkey-wrenching rain? You know what I am talking about. That’s right. Guns N’ Roses and one of the most expensive and most glorious music videos/songs of all time. I can not recall a single time when this pathos-inducing song did not cheer me up. Maybe this is because it is a good reminder that it could be always be worse. Or maybe its because it is simply an undeniable invitation to wail on the air guitar, which, in my experience, tends to lift spirits.
If those things weren’t enough, there is a lot of big hair. The video is broken into two, intercut parts–one, the band on stage, and two, the little dramatic enactment of a love story gone wrong. The concert footage features backup singers with big hair, and adulating hips, and prom-gloved arms sweeping upward in joy and agony. Then there is the biggest-haired orchestra you’ve ever seen, lead by the biggest-haired, mustachioed, head-banging conductor in the world. There are stadium lights, a blood-weeping crucifix, and a flute. A flute!
Slash wails atop a piano (with his own signature big hair), while Axl channels Elton. This is before the fall, and he still looks nearly wholesome, already addicted and violent, but mercifully free of botox and creepy ginger cornrows, almost normal on the cusp of his steep slide into the abyss of full-fledged assholery.
Then there is the wedding! A priest named Gianantonio! Stephanie Seymour (Axl’s then on-again, off-again girlfriend) in her designer dress, all business on top, party down below! And those Sergeant Pepper Pirate jackets! And Axl’s weirdo talon pinky coke ring! And that scandalous tongue kiss! And the moment where Slash nearly loses the rings before peacing out mid-ceremony into the highlight of the video…
Poor guy is feeling a little emotional. He needs a little time on his own. Time to execute a most epic shred in the perpetually windy deserted desert churchyard, with his enormous hair seductively billowing while invisible helicopters circle and swoop and zoom in on his shirtless, leather-jacket clad abs, excruciatingly tight pants, heel stomps, crotch thrusts, and incredible mega power stance in one of the greatest, most motherfucking badass melodramatic guitar solos in the history of the universe. Seriously, find me a person on this Earth who can watch that clip and not want to be Slash for even one hot minute. You can’t. There is no such person. Everyone wants to be Slash in that moment.
Cut to the strange Godfather-inspired reception, featuring rustically capped Mediterranean boys, 10,000 cigarettes, and the bride’s ultra-90’s black velvet dress with ribbon choker. Then comes the titular, panic-inducing November Rain, which drives the guests to lose their minds, upturning tables and knocking down the enormous wedding cake that was so recently and tenderly cut, telling us that the party is seriously over. For real. By now the orchestra’s conductor is headbanging as if he’s being righteously electrocuted, in a way perhaps only another big-haired human (say, me) can truly fully appreciate. Dude is stone-cold rocking it. Then, Boom. Funeral. Bride is dead for reasons unknown, suicide is implied. That blasted rain even interrupts the graveside attendance. Water-phobic mourners run, again, leaving poor booze and pill-addled Axl to toss and turn in his eerily-lit sheets while that same damn relentless rain slides down his enormous windows, the very picture of his poor, broken heart, failure, and sadly, future (Chinese Democracy, anyone?) And, scene.
This is what November is all about, man!