Guns N’ Roses – November Rain Music Video Breakdown.

I’ll tell you what, this is going to give me a fucking breakdown! Right, before we get started, let’s just get a few things out the way. I know this video pretty well. It was one of a handful I used in my commonucations… Is that not how you spell comonocations? Oh man. Comunionalcations? I know this video pretty well. It was one of a handful I used in my “Talkin’ N’ Shit” module at college.

So, facts! It was directed by music video GOD, Andy Morahan, it ranks highly amongst his other work. Other work, I might add that includes, and you might want to sit down for this… George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex”, “Faith”, “Monkey”, “I Knew You Were Waiting” the Aretha Franklin duet, “Father Figure” which he directed with George, and a few more George videos, he also did “When Will I Be Famous?” for Bros, “Never Can Say Goodbye” for The Communards, “West End Girls” for The Pet Shop Boys, numerous Bananarama hits, “Steamy Windows” for Tina Turner, as well as a few other lesser known Tina tracks, and many videos for Simply Red, Guns N’ Roses, Elton John, Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love”, Billy Joel, Belinda Carlisle, The Human League, Lionel Richie and of course the Sugababes, B*Witched and S Club 7!

Upon it’s release it was one of the most expensive music videos ever made. It was budgeted at $1.5 million, which adjusted for inflation today would be about $2.6 million, making it still the 20th most costly promo on record. Number one obviously still being Scream by Michael and Janet which was a whopping $7 million/$11.2 million. Insane!

A few other little facts I know! The church in New Mexico that Slash stands outside of is the same church from Silverado. They had wanted this to take place elsewhere but as it was being shot in winter there were no flowery fields available. The performance footage is all shot in The Orpheum Theatre in LA. This is actually the first part of a trilogy! You can look that up for yourself, I can’t be bothered explaining it, AND this recently became the first music video from the 20th century to reach 1 billion YouTube views! It was also never a number 1. Not in the UK, nor the US. It managed 3 in the US and 4 here (Shakespeare’s Sister with Stay was number 1 the week it came out). The song is from Use Your Illusion I, which when partnered with Use Your Illusion II, you get the weirdest release schedule of singles in the history of the world. They rode those albums for fucking ages. I think the first single off them was June 91, and then they had finally had enough when they released Estranged in 1994! THREE FUCKING YEARS! It is also GnR’s third longest song!

I suppose we should probably get the fuck on with it! For those who aren’t familiar with it, or those that have simply forgotten it, here is the video:

For the sake of my sanity, whilst doing this, we’ll be trialling a slightly different format. Let’s do it!

[00:00] to [00:16]: We fade in from black to find Axl Rose (Axl Rose is famously an anagram of Laser-Ox, which is presumably why he chose it! Laser-Ox is obviously one of them there Pokemon things, and the 17th Sugababe.) sat on the edge of the bed. Given what I know about Laser-Ox, at this point it’s difficult to know if he’s getting up or going to sleep! He puts his cigarette out, which looks way too long to have been actually smoked, and then takes some pills. He takes off his top and before we can get to the good stuff, we fade out. We also get the name of the song, which for eagle eyed viewers, you’ll notice is November Rain! Obviously this had to be accompanied by some rain noise. His bedroom is quite clearly a sound stage, so how he gets any sleep is beyond me. I’m a fan of silhouettes so I dig this.

[00:17] to [00:34]: We move to the theatre for the band to actually perform the song. I wonder if a recording of this actually exists? A conductor conducts, backing singers… dance, and Earl Sox plays the piano. Heavy on the silhouettes again, like Mark Romanek has been visiting the set. AMIRIGHT?! (Music video director jokes). Real Sox has a drink on the piano that looks like Lemon and Barley water. He can’t see anything as he has sunglasses on inside. Prick.

[00:35] to [00:38]: We’re off again, this time to a tiny church in New Mexico. Literally in the middle of fucking nowhere. I for one do NOT want to visit this church. There’s nothing is sight in any direction yet at least 8 people have died here given the amount of gravestones outside it. They probably fell off the stupidly steep roof.

[00:39] to [00:42]: We’re back on a set because there is no fucking way that this is inside this church. For one, that piano did NOT fit through that door. Also, if this was now, Ax Loser wouldn’t have fit through that door either! Inside he carries on playing the piano, but let’s not hang around, let’s go back to…

[00:43] to [00:57]: The concert hall. A few more camera shots of the band whilst Sax Role continues to play the piano. Again though, no hanging about, we have to go back to…


[01:01] to [01:05]: Finally some drums, the singing is starting! Wait… no, spoke to soon.

[01:06] to [01:09]: Now we’re at the daddy church of the little one we saw earlier. A tiny girl, who would seem better suited to a tiny church, if only we had one, throws petals in the air. We then see some guys playing orchestra stuff. That’s the phrase. WAIT A MINUTE! THESE GUYS ARE AT THE CHURCH! We saw them before… at 43 seconds in. They blended them in like they were back at the concert hall! Those cheeky scamps! Nice try, Morahan.

[01:10] to [01:12]: Back to Laser-Ox in bed. Sleeping as soundly as a Pokemon can.

[01:13] to [01:16]: We transition through the blue light, back to the concert hall. That’d be really clever, if it wasn’t.

[01:17] to [01:17]: Very brief shot of the inside of Earl Sox’s head.

[01:18] to [01:20]: Someone has upset Jesus, who is now crying blood, probably the fact that we still haven’t reached the beginning of the fucking singing!

[01:21] to [01:22]: Real Sox is still in bed but is now becoming restless. Don’t smoke, kids! Important comma there.

[01:22] to [01:24]: SYMBOLS! More blue silhouettes and then comes…

[01:25] to [01:28]: A woman playing a flute into a microphone! Is that how you mic a flute? I thought it would be different. Looks like she’s trying to get both in her mouth at once.


[01:34] to [01:35]: Jesus Christ.

[01:36] to [01:41]: Someone forgot to make the front of her dress! I hope that church is heated, or she’s gonna get a cold foof.

[01:42] to [01:45]: Holy hell, there’s a lot of people here.

[01:46] to [01:47]: Actually, no, wait, there’s not. They just put like 4 people on each row to make it look fuller. This is like Obama’s inauguration and then Trump’s.

[01:48] to [01:51]: We cut to see Laser Ox at the end of the aisle. Imagine having to walk down there to that. She’s probably happy that her vag is currently icing shut.

[01:52] to [01:59]: Back in the concert hall stuff is still happening. A few movements in time to the beat. Heavy Metal violin playing. Excellent.

[02:00] to [02:07]: Back at the church, we see that Loser Ax has come dressed as some sort of pirate? He lifts her veil and for a moment she looks depressed. I would be too. I mean, for one, he’s ginger. Don’t worry though, you’ll be dead soon!

[02:08] to [02:13]: Concert hall again, Slash is smoking whilst playing, because he’s Slash. We’re gonna come back to the sheer amount of smoking in this video later.

[02:14] to [02:19]: Wedding again and he’s finally got her veil up. Things are going fine, everyone’s happy. (Not her).

[02:20] to [02:47]: Now, for some unknown reason, we cut to a bar called Rainbow. No sign of Zippy or George. Bungle could be Slash for all I know. Anyway, here we go with the smoking. So Laser Ox and the lady show up, QUICK LIGHT UP! So they’re smoking, everyone is smoking, blowing smoke around TRY ON SLASH’S HAT OH IT DOESN’T FIT SMOKE SOME MORE! In case it isn’t clear, I’m a non-smoker. The amount of smoking going on there, is quite literally insane. Aren’t they cool because they smoke so much. (Slash is actually cool though. Because he’s Slash.)

[02:48] to [02:55]: About time we visited the band in the concert hall again so off we go. I’m gonna have to just start calling him Axl now. Axl still tickling the ivories, people are enjoying it. We could totally go off on a tangent now about live performance videos and Bon Jovi, but we won’t. Actually, go on…

So, above is Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine. Don’t worry, this will only take a minute (girl). If you watch that, you only need to watch the first 30 seconds. Bon Jovi had a string of music videos that were just concert footage basically cut into a promo. So, when they made Bad Medicine, they decided to mention it by having this guy shout about how this was gonna be just the same as all the other videos, so why don’t we take their cameras and make their own video. The only problem is, after all that, IT’S JUST ANOTHER FUCKING LIVE PERFORMANCE VIDEO! What the actual fuck.

In defence of Little Jonny Bonnles, pretty much all music videos for songs in this genre, during this time, we all just live performance and back stage stuff. Not ALL of them, but the vast majority. Easy, cheap and fast. Like sex with your mum.

[02:56] to [03:09]: Right, where the fuck were we! Yes, at the wedding. Everything going to plan here, yep, except… oh no! Slash has lost the ring! Queue a face from the vicar! Check! All is well, That other guy had it. Yep, him. (I’m not willing to learn anyone else’s name).

[03:10] to [03:16]: Back at the concert hall, stuff is progressing as you’d expect it to. Not convinced these are all unique bits of footage but I can’t be bothered to check! Do you know how long it takes to write these posts? The constant having to go back and forth, checking the time stamps, looking for small details, etc etc. Generally speaking, it’s like an hour per 30 seconds. Yes. That IS insane.

[03:17] to [03:42]: Slash gives the ring to the vicar and Axl slides it onto her finger, we get a quick shot of his hand… I hope he takes that other ring off before he tries fingering her later. Jesus. Anyway, we then have to watch them “french”. Gross. Just kill her now. Slash shakes hands with THAT guy, and then walks off down the church. I take back what I said about these taking ages. I just did 25 seconds in under a minute. *checks the bottom of the post for the revision dates… Oh, so I started this 2 weeks ago. I take it back again!

[03:43] to [03:54]: Back to the concert hall for a build up of the music. I know what’s coming, you should probably know also… Coolness is about to take place…

[03:55] to [04:09]: Slash has finally reached the teleporter at the end of the church. It’s a special teleporter that also changes your clothes. It’s a bit like the one in The Fly. All the components are there, they’ve just gone back together in a different configuration. Didn’t think you’d be getting 80s Jeff Goldblum references, did you! He appears outside the tiny church with his guitar. Quick check back in at the concert hall, yep, all good. Back to…

[04:10] to [05:00]: “Guys, guys, we’re gonna get Slash to play his guitar in the desert outside the little church. Should be get a helicopter and make sure we definitely spray sand in his face whilst he plays?” “OMG WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT!” An incredible amount of sweeping shots of Slash being… Well… Slash. I’ve never been happier that something in a music video goes on for ages. I’ve not checked the stats, but I’m pretty sure this video is 90% Slash in a desert. I also realise I’m being very lose with the term desert.

[05:01] to [05:27]: The leave the church and get into the car. Off to the weirdest wedding reception ever. She still doesn’t look happy. Bloody gingers.

[05:28] to [05:57]: Back in the desert with slash. Sadly it doesn’t last as we get Axl.. I think? Wandering around. He goes past a shop that says GUNS on it. Because they’re called Guns ‘N’ Roses, get it. To be fair, this being set in America, that could be literally any fucking shop. I realise that I’ve given up making any comments on the actual plot of this video. The reason for this is that it makes no fucking sense to me. Why is she sad all the time? Then she dies. Did she know she was dying (PROBABLY FUCKING LUNG CANCER) and therefore married him to make him happy? That’s a pretty fucking weird plot if that’s the case. (Everything still being done with that blue tint to signify night, outside of the concert shots). I also realise I’m putting in some huge time-stamp gaps now. Mainly, I’m losing the will to live. The guitar solo continues back at the concert hall. Everyone loves it. Obviously.

[05:58] to [06:17]: We’re at the reception. Axl is now wearing a bright blue shiny suit, because, why the fuck wouldn’t you. He’s managed to maintain the pirate look with the puff shirt though. Good job, Axl. They cut the cake in front of a kid dresses as… a chimney sweep? WHEN IS THIS SET? Oddly, all of a sudden she seems happy. Like all the sad parts were for no fucking reason whatsoever. Lots of celebratory drink hitting and such and obviously more smoking.

[06:18] to [06:22]: Quick check in back at the concert hall. All is well again.

[06:23] to [06:39]: More smoking followed by a very brief shot of Dot Cotton. The general receptiony type activity continues and all is still going ok back at the concert hall… UNTIL…

[06:40] to [06:41]: This little kid looks up to see that it’s raining. Think about that for a moment. He looks up, to see that it’s raining. WHO HAS EVER DONE THIS. NO ONE. You know how you know when it’s raining, when you start getting rained on!

[06:42] to [06:56]: Also, when it comes to stupid rain stuff… At this point it starts raining from two different directions. Good job, rain machine guys! Right, the other thing about all this rain is, is it Acid Rain or something? People are acting like it’s the worst thing ever. One guy falls against a table like he’s hurt. Everyone else is hiding under tables, rather than, you know, JUST GOING INSIDE! And then…

[06:57] to [06:59]: This dick just jumps through the cake. What a waste of cake.

[07:00] to [07:02]: Waste all the red wine in the name of metaphor that you like. I hate it.

[07:03] to [07:06]: Not content with filming the coolest guitar solo ever, earlier, Slash climbs onto the grand piano to be cool again as the piano kicks back in and we find out that…

[07:07] to [07:18]: She’s now dead. Presumably from that acid rain. Or lung cancer. Or just having to spend time with Axl Rose. The drum beat goes a little military at the point. I dig it though. Axl appears in the stands looking a bit sweaty to be honest. IS THIS STRAIGHT INSIDE FROM THE RAIN? They all rain inside, she tripped, died, they threw her in a coffin and they just carried on.

[07:19] to [07:25]: Slash still being Slash. We flash back to her to check she’s still dead. Yes. Then to see if Axl is still sweaty. Yes.

[07:26] to [08:13]: Right, Slash is now off on the solo. Funeral stuff happens. Nothing particularly interesting. I’ll comment when something good happens… (Side note, Axl isn’t tall enough to carry the coffin).

[08:14] to [08:44]: So, at this point, the priest looks up, because that’s how you know if it’s raining, remember. It starts pissing it down as they stick her in the floor. Some people run over and we’re back to Axl and his nightmares. We inter-cut with wedding day stuff to show that’s what he’s dreaming about as she throws the bouquet and it flies through the air and lands on her coffin. Nicely done editing guys! Axl wakes up and is characteristically sweaty.

[08:45] to [08:56]: He’s the last person left at the funeral, which must have gone on for hours as it’s pitch black all of a sudden. Axl sits there being thankful that it’s November Raining and so he can disguise his sweatiness.

[08:57] to [09:06]: The colour drains from the flowers. The same way it drained from my face about half way through this mess.

[09:07] to [09:16]: Apparently it’s based on a short story, that, if the video is anything to go by, I DO NOT recommend you read. Ha.

I’m sorry I put you through that. Go enjoy your life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.