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Civil War

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Civil War

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:53 am

Use Your Illusion II, 1991, track no. 1.

Written by:
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan.

Drums: Steven Adler
     Bass: Duff
     Lead and Rhythm Guitars / Acoustic Guitar: Slash
     Vocals: Axl
     Piano: Dizzy Reed
     Background Vocals: Duff, Dizzy

Live performances:
'Civil War' was played for the first time at Farm Aid (Hoosier Dome), USA, on April 7, 1990. It was played a lot in '91, '92 and '93, but has not been played since then. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, been played {CIVILSONGS} times.
"What we've got here is failure to communicate.
       Some men you just can't reach...
       So, you get what we had here last week,
       which is the way he wants it!
       Well, he gets it!
       N' I don't like it any more than you men."

     Look at your young men fighting
       Look at your women crying
       Look at your young men dying
       The way they've always done before
Look at the hate we're breeding
       Look at the fear we're feeding
       Look at the lives we're leading
       The way we've always done before

     My hands are tied
       The billions shift from side to side
       And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
       For the love of God and our human rights
       And all these things are swept aside
       By bloody hands time can't deny
       And are washed away by your genocide
       And history hides the lies of our civil wars

     D'you wear a black armband
       When they shot the man
       Who said "Peace could last forever"
       And in my first memories
       They shot Kennedy
       I went numb when I learned to see
       So I never fell for Vietnam
       We got the wall of D.C. to remind us all
       That you can't trust freedom
       When it's not in your hands
       When everybody's fightin'
       For their promised land

       I don't need your civil war
       It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
       Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
       In a human grocery store
       Ain't that fresh
       I don't need your civil war

     Look at the shoes your filling
       Look at the blood we're spilling
       Look at the world we're killing
       The way we've always done before
       Look in the doubt we've wallowed
       Look at the leaders we've followed
       Look at the lies we've swallowed
       And I don't want to hear no more

     My hands are tied
       For all I've seen has changed my mind
       But still the wars go on as the years go by
       With no love of God or human rights
       'Cause all these dreams are swept aside
       By bloody hands of the hypnotized
       Who carry the cross of homicide
       And history bears the scars of our civil wars

     "We practice selective annihilation of mayors
       And government officials
       For example to create a vacuum
       Then we fill that vacuum
       As popular war advances
       Peace is closer"

     I don't need your civil war
       It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
       Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
       In a human grocery store
       Ain't that fresh
       And I don't need your civil war
       I don't need your civil war
       I don't need your civil war
       Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
       In a human grocery store
       Ain't that fresh
       I don't need your civil war
       I don't need one more war
     I don't need one more war
       Whaz so civil 'bout war anyway

We did manage to get the most of and did some good writing while we were [in Australia in December, 1988]. 'Civil War' was an instrumental that I had written just before we took off for Japan. Axl started writing lyrics to it and we worked it up into a proper song at sound check in Melbourne, first the beginning part then the heavy section. That song came together very quickly [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 259]
[...] in toying with riffs and ideas at sound checks in late 1988, we had created a skeletal version of 'Civil War' and now [in 1989, off tour] Axl and I were writing lyrics for it. Memories of marching with my mother as a child provided he inspiration for one section: "Did you wear the black armband / When they shot the man / Who said peace could last forever?" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148-149]
Talking about working on songs in Chicago without Axl and Izzy: We did get some work done. We finished 'Civil War' and wrote 'Get In The Ring' and 'Pretty Tied Up,' to name a few [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151]
We'd had the rough framework for 'Civil War' kicking around since that first tour of Australia; I wrote the instrumentals, and Axl had written and revised the lyrics for it several times, but everything fell into place when we brought it out again [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 298-299]
When we returned to L.A. [in 1989 for practising for Use Your Illusion], we continued rehearsing exclusively at Bob Mates Studios in North Hollywood. It was during this time that we wrote a song we would eventually title 'Civil War.' It's amazing it was ever completed because on most days, when I would come to rehearsal, Slash and Duff would show up drunk. I would get pissed as hell at the guys. I understood that partying went with rock 'n' roll, but we had a record to do ["My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p192]
We did 'Civil War' with Steven Adler [...]. And before I could put my guitars on, we had to edit the drums because he was so out of time. He couldn't keep his meter going [Guitar For The Practising Musician, April 1992]
Recounting Farm Aid in 1990: I assumed we'd be playing a couple of our hits, like 'Paradise City' or 'Welcome to the Jungle.' Axl announced, "This is something new we got, called 'Civil War.'". Huh? Although I knew the song, I didn't know that would be the title. So I looked at Duff and I was like, "Dude. What's goin' on?" (...) Although we didn't even have that song completely down and had never rehearsed it with Axl, it played pretty well ["My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p.201-202]
Basically it was a riff that we would do at soundchecks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And... I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that's when: "Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: "Peace could last forever"". It's just true-life experiences, really [Duff on Rockline - September 27, 1993]
It's the same version, just mixed better. It was ironic in the timing when it came out. When we recorded that, it wasn't in our normal studio. I didn't have a normal amp. It was one of those things where we had to do it because we were doing it for a benefit album, and it was a rush thing. The song was great, but Steven couldn't play. It took two days just to get the drums. That's out of the norm for us. I had to use a rented amp, and I wasn't particularly happy with the sound. Then Clink tried to mix it in a couple of different studios. I wasn't happy with the mix, and we usually don't use Clink to mix. We sat in on the mix, but I couldn't get it right. I don't like the studio. When it came time to use it for our album, we had it mixed by Bill Price, who is awesome [No Illusions, Guitar - April, 1992]
Being asked how 'Civil War' ended up on the benefit album, 'Nobody's Child': It ended up on the benefit album 'cause Tom Petty called me and asked me, which was really weird, asked me if George Harrison could call me. And then George Harrison called me and we we're talking, and all of a sudden he started talking about his wife flying to Bangladesh… It just… All of a sudden my mind was like, boom… hyper-space, I'm talking to a Beatle. And he was very Beatle-esque talking about Bangladesh [laughs]. It was pretty wild. They asked for the song and the inspiration was… A friend asked me to write a song about just how crazy the world is and certain things and… I just thought it was an interesting subject and just… Slash had this music and it exactly fit what I'd written [Axl and Slash interview, Rockline 1994]
Riad is the name my one time momentary brother-in-law of Erin Everly went by when I knew him. Of part Lebanese descent and a former student of Pepperdine University he claims to be an international arms dealer, billionaire with ambitions of being "King of the World". He claims to fund several medical organizations and underground Nazi organizations around the world who says his heroes are Napoleon and Adolph Hitler. He claims his most prized asset is his anonymity. He also claims to be an expert in military strategy and was the inspiration for the Guns song Civil War which was written per his request for a song how "people were stupid and he could and he could sell them anything because people love to kill each other." He also claims to be an expert in global finance and money laundering living tax free in Belair last I was aware and claiming to launder monies for wealthy individuals in several countries predominantly Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, with ties to the Bush/Reagan administrations and wherever there's a war in the world at any given moment. [Excerpts from the Chinese Democracy CD cover]
That was actually one of the first songs Axl and I wrote after Appetite. The tour wasn't even finished, Axl heard me playing this acoustic thing and we started rehearsing it with the band in Australia. It was also the first song where we went in the studio with Steven and realised that he wasn't really playing up to par [Music Radar, September 2011]
[Hearing Duff sing on GN'R songs] was a fun thing about some of these shows. Because there's also things like that little line in "Civil War" "Peace could last forever." Duff wrote that line, and he sings it [Revolver Magazine, May 2014]
One of the banes of my existence as a keyboard player has always been the fact that bands like to tune down the guitars a half a step. Which I was unaware of when I first went in to work up a song called “Civil War,” which was recorded by the original [Guns N’ Roses] lineup. They asked me to come in and do that. They had an old Yamaha CP80 electric piano that they tuned down a half step. I don’t have perfect pitch, so I didn’t know that we were playing in E flat and they had tuned the whole piano a half step down rather than transposing as some of us do. So after these rehearsals, they called me one night to come in to lay down the track. There was a big Steinway piano set up and the track’s almost done. It’s about two in the morning and I sat down to play it, and Slash, Duff and Axl are all in the control room. Went to play it, and it was all a half step off. Suddenly it all became clear—that they had tuned down the rehearsal piano—or they were playing it in standard [tuning] just to mess with me. So I figured out really quick how to play that song on the black keys.

So Slash comes out with his his guitar and says, ‘Okay, here’s how the song goes.’ And I say, “No, I know the song bro, I’m just trying to figure out how to play it in the right key.’ So he says, ‘What do you need?’ And I say, ‘You know what? A bottle of 151 rum.’ And never having been part of a major recording session, I didn’t realize the turnaround on a request like that. Literally within five minutes there was a bottle of 151 rum sitting on the piano. I took a couple of swigs off that, which is like drinking gasoline, and away we went, and the rest is history
[The HUB, September 2014].

'Civil War' performed live in Paris, France, on June 6, 1992:

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