Monday, January 5, 2015

Axl Rose's Editor's Notes On "Sweet Child O'Mine"

Hi, Axl,

Just got your manuscript and demo for the song “Sweet Child O’ (sic) Mine.” I think we need to talk. As your editor, I am responsible for making your songs as cogent as possible, for helping them reach the high editorial standards your public has come to expect. With this one, I am certainly earning my keep. After several attempts to reach you by phone, I am sending along my notes. Please make appropriate fixes as soon as possible, at which point I can send them to copy editing and proofreading in time for your upcoming studio session.

She’s got a smile that, it seems to me—Why equivocate? You weaken your point by framing this as a mere personal observation instead of a fact.

Reminds me of childhood memories—Redundant. You either have a memory or you’re reminded of something. You’re not reminded of a memory. Heavy-metal fans won’t stand for such writing, my friend.

Where everything was as fresh as a bright blue sky—I asked around the office and no one is sure a blue sky is “fresh.” You could have a blue sky at the end of a long, sweaty day and there would be nothing fresh about it. And she reminds you of a time when things were fresh? Fond reminiscences of freshness are no foundation for love. Fix.

Now and then when I see her face it takes me away to that special place—Again, you’re weakening your own argument. Why does the sight of her face transport you only periodically? And is it just her smile or her entire face that does this to you? Because you’ve already said both. Consistency, Axl!

And if I stared too long, I’d probably break down and cry—Why would you do that? Because you miss the freshness you described earlier? I think the whole “fresh” thing is really tripping you up. Also, crying? Wimpy.
OK, on to the second verse.

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies—See, this is just getting worse. Now her eyes are made of sky? Nice imagery, but you just got done saying her smile reminded you of memories of sky. Is this verse actually supposed to be a second draft of the first verse? Am I just confused on formatting? Help!

As if they thought of rain—Axl, eyes can’t think of rain. And even if they could, which they can’t, why would bluest skies think of rain? Perhaps less imagery of thinking eyes made of sky and more direct exploration of your feelings?

I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain—Well, hell. I guess in your special Axl World anything is possible. Eyes can be made of sky, ponder the weather, and exhibit pain in amounts that can be weighed.

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I’d hide—Delete. Fix. Do something. You’d hide in a place that reminded you of hair? Never show me such phrases again.

And pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by—Whew. OK, listen to me now: Thunder can’t quietly do anything. It’s thunder. And, more importantly, do you really want to come across as a wuss who’s constantly on the verge of weeping and skittering into hair caves to escape from rain? Is this a song about love or climatic anxiety? You need to work these things out.

Finally, Axl, I think we might have had a misunderstanding regarding my previous notes. When I wrote in colored pencil “Where do we go now?” I wasn’t offering that as a lyric. I was simply observing that, in narrative terms, the song needed to progress in some way. You love the girl, she’s helping you work through some issues, whatever. So where do we go now? But instead of providing a satisfactory conclusion, you simply took my note and repeated it over and over again before ultimately just stating the title of the song. This is unacceptable. Don’t ask us, the listeners, where we go. That’s up to you as the writer! Tell us where we go now!

Again, let’s try to fix these things soon and get “Sweet Child of Mine” (“My Sweet Child”?) into your fans’ hands as quickly as possible. Because, frankly, if it should ever hit the street in its current form, the song would be a colossal failure.

Talk soon,
Your Editor 

Originally posted on McSweeneys in 2006, by writer John Moe.

(h/t steves)


kevin m said...

This is the laugh I needed to begin my 2015 work year! Brilliant!

William Repsher said...

Axl Rose is like Walt Whitman compared to KISS!

dogbreath said...

Thanks for sharing this clever piece of amusing & witty writing, from which much enjoyment obtained. And it's still a cool rock song, right? Had to look up what 'h/t' means & learnt it derives from 'tipping the hat' which in this day of hoodies, beanies & baseball caps is a pleasant surprise (Yes, I'm easily pleased).

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Pretty damned funny. Whatever you do, don't give that (imaginary) editor the lyric sheet to I Am the Walrus!


Ken D said...

And to think, this was his HIT song! Nicely done.
The mega-success of GnR is still baffling to me. I thought they were simply terrible...

Anonymous said...

Hi Sal - Not sure where you picked this up but it was published originally at McSweeneys a few years back, written by John Moe. JM is not my favorite guy in the world but you should put his name on your post somewhere.

Not to say you did anything wrong by posting it here. I'm sure you would have given credit had the credit been known to you.

Sal Nunziato said...


It was sent to me from someone who picked it up from another music forum. I'll gladly give credit where credit is due.

A walk in the woods said...

Best laugh today - love it

Dave said...

Moe hosts the music/comedy show "Wits" on public radio and regularly does a "Pop Song Correspondence" bit in the show. He's had Rhett Miller, Jason Isbell, and Bob Mould as musical guests and they also participate in the comedy bits. There's a list of stations that carry it at

buzzbabyjesus said...

I couldn't read most of it since Guns N Roses are unexplored territory for me. I remember changing channels whenever this song came on MTV. Axl is the most irritating front man I can think of.

whattawino said...

Do you think Axl's hair is actually attached to the bandana?