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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

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Coma Empty Coma

Post by Soulmonster Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:54 pm

Coma Newbor11
Use Your Illusion I, 1991, track no. 16.

Written by:
Slash and Axl Rose.

Drums / Percussion: Matt
Bass: Duff
Lead and Rhythm Guitars: Slash
Rhythm Guitar: Izzy
Vocals: Axl
Sound Effects: Bruce Foster, Johann
Bitches: Susanne Filkins, Patricia Fuenzalida, Rose Mann, Monica Zierhut-Soto, Michelle Loiselle, Diane Mitchell

Live performances:
'Coma' was performed live for the first time at Richfield Coliseum, USA, on June 4, 1991. After having been played only a few times in the 1990s, it was not played for a long time before being ressurrected for the "Not In This Lifetime" tour in 2016. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {COMASONGS} times.

Hey you caught me in a coma
And I don't think I wanna
Ever come back to again
Kinda like it in a coma
'Cause no one's ever gonna
Oh, make me come back to again
Now I feel as if I'm floating away
I can't feel all the pressure
And I like it this way
But my body's callin'
My body's callin'
Won't ya come back to again
Suspended deep in a sea of black
I've got the light at the end
I've got the bones on the mast
Well I've gone sailin', I've gone sailin'
I could leave so easily
While friends are calling back to me
I said they're
They're leaving it all up to me
When all I needed was clarity
And someone to tell me
What the fuck is going on
Goddamn it!

Slippin' farther an farther away
It's a miracle how long we can stay
In a world our minds created
In a world that's full of shit

Help me
Help me
Help me
Help me

Please understand me
I'm climbin' through the wreckage
Of all my twisted dreams
But this cheap investigation just can't stifle all my screams
And I'm waitin' at the crossroads
Waiting for you
Waiting for you
Where are you

No one's gonna bother me anymore
No one's gonna mess with my head no more
I can't understand what all the fightin's for
But it's so nice here down off the shore
I wish you could see this
'Cause there's nothing to see
It's peaceful here and it's fine with me
Not like the world where I used to live
I never really wanted to live

Zap him again
Zap the son of a bitch again

Ya live your life like it's a coma
So won't you tell me why we'd wanna
With all the reasons you give it's
It's kinda hard to believe
But who am I to tell you that I've seen
any reason why you should stay
Maybe we'd be better off without you anyway

You got a one way ticket
On your last chance ride
Gotta one way ticket
To your suicide
Gotta one way ticket
An there's no way out alive
An all this crass communication
That has left you in the cold
Isn't much for consolation
When you feel so weak and old
But if home is where the heart is
Then there's stories to be told
No you don't need a doctor
No one else can heal your soul
Got your mind in submission
Got your life on the line
But nobody pulled the trigger
They just stepped aside
They be down by the water
While you watch 'em waving goodbye
They be callin' in the morning
They be hangin' on the phone
They be waiting for an answer
When you know nobody's home
And when the bell's stopped ringing
It was nobody's fault but your own
There were always ample warnings
There were always subtle signs
And you would have seen it comin'
But we gave you too much time
And when you said that no one's listening
Why'd your best friend drop a dime
Sometimes we get so tired of waiting
For a way to spend our time
An "It's so easy" to be social
"It's so easy" to be cool
Yeah it's easy to be hungry
When you ain't got shit to lose
And I wish that I could help you
With what you hope to find
But I'm still out here waiting
Watching reruns of my life
When you reach the point of breaking
Know it's gonna take some time
To heal the broken memories
That another man would need
Just to survive

Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Playing it live:

The song features many chord shifts and Izzy needed a chord chart for live performances:

[Prior to the release]: Slash has this song, it's called 'Coma', and it's fuckin' 15 minutes long. And I still don't know it, man. I have to take a special chord chart with me whenever we play it. There's like 50 chords at the end of it and I just can't follow them.
The Vox, 1991

That was a long song, wasn't it? I never did learn that song. What I did is, I had a chord chart onstage for the tour, because there were like 30 changes, and they didn't flow naturally for me. I think that was Slash's song more than anything, because he was more into that heavier, Metallica sort of thing. I think we only played it three times live.
RIP, 1992

And Izzy's replacement, Gilby, would have similar problems:

[On being asked which song gave him the most struggle]: Without a doubt, 'Coma.' I still don't know it. It's like this 15- or 20-minute song with no repeats.
Guitar World, November 1992

Slash would also mention it was a hard song for Axl to sing:

We played “Coma” early on in the Use Your Illusions tour. We probably played it about six times in total. It’s a very long, complicated song. More than anything, it was a little vocal-challenging because there was so much vocal going on. There’s no air, vocally, on there. I think it was a little bit hard for Axl to keep up with that song every single night.

Writing the song:

Slash would claim he had brought the music of the song in to the band, fully written:

Like 'Coma' was just all arranged by, er, me. I wrote it and showed it to the band and we just stuck with the arrangement that I had […].
RAW, October 1991

Like "Coma," I just wrote all the music from one end to the other. I don't know how, it was just the way I heard it... that arrangement. Axl adapted the lyrics to that.
Interview CD, 1992

I wrote some really cool shit when I was high. There's a song called Coma, a long song, really heavy, and I wrote that loaded.
Q, July 1991

When I wrote "Coma," it was over a pretty short period of time, but it was not a one-day song. I kept playing around with the ideas, and then tying it together. This is another song that was basically arranged when I brought it to the band. I wrote the whole song, amazingly enough, on acoustic. When I play with the band live, and electrically, I turn the volume down, tone it down for that middle section. I was actually looking forward to doing that part when we were in the studio.
Guitar, April, 1992

Later, he would mention that Izzy had been involved in the beginning:

My next home [in 1989] was a house Izzy and I rented up in the Hollywood Hills, and that lasted for about a month. (...) We had fun while we were there and I also managed to write a lot; I wrote 'Coma' and the two of use wrote 'Locomotive' in that house; there was some creativity going on.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 252

(...) As well as a long, heavy guitar-riff mantra I wrote when living with Izzy that evolved  into the song 'Coma.' The song was eight minutes long; it was just a repeating pattern that got increasingly mathematical and involved in its precision as it progressed. Axl loved it but at first it was one song that he couldn't come up with lyrics for. He was very proud of his gift for lyrics, so he was pretty frustrated by it...until one night months later when the words just came to him.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 299

In 1990, Axl would talk about the song and how the lyrics were based on his own experiences as he OD'ed:

There's this song called 'Coma' that is like 11 minutes and 45 seconds long with no chorus; and I think there is only one verse that, like, somewhere repeats itself. It's Slash's baby, it's his monster. The song used to be called 'Girth'. I started to write about when I OD'ed four years ago, and the reason why I OD'ed was because of stress, I couldn't take it, and I just grabbed this bottle of pills (?) in an argument and gulped it down and I ended up in a hospital. But I liked that I wasn't in a fight anymore and I was fully concious that I was leaving. I liked that. But then I go, all of a sudden my real thoughts, though, were that 'Okay, you've haven't toured enough, the record's not gonna last, it's gonna be forgotten this and that, you've got work to do get out of this,' and I went 'No!' and I woke up, you know, pulled myself out of it. But in the describing of that some people could take it wrong and think it means to go and put yourself into a coma, so, it's a little tricky and I'm still playing with the words to figure out to, like, show some hope in there
Famous Last Words, MTV, 1990

At times l enjoy writing, and other times just hate it because it's definitely having to go back and experience some pain and express how you really feel. Sometimes the writing ends up being cathartic in the long run, but, like, writing "Coma" on "Use Your Illusion I" was so heavy I'd start to write and I'd just pass out. I tried to write that song for a year, and couldn't. l went to write it at the studio and passed out. l woke up two hours later and sat down and wrote the whole end of the song, like, just off the top of my head. It was like, don't even know what's coming out, man, but it's coming. l think one of the best things that I've ever written was maybe the end segment of the song "Coma." It just poured out. I thanked Slash for that, because I used to curse him, going, "Man, that son of a bitch has written this thing and I've got to write to it and don't know what to write." It was so hard; it made me feel like, "l don't know how to write, I should just quit." (Axl laughs) But I finally did write it, and l ended up feeling a lot better about a lot of situations that l expressed In that song.
Interview Magazine talks to Axl Rose, 1992

Talking about the song:

We have actually got this song called 'Girth'... Well, it's not going to be called 'Girth' on the album, it'll get changed, but it's such a heavy song we call it 'Girth' for now. It's named after this guy West [Arkeen], who writes with us sometimes. He's a real little fucker, right? but his dick, it's only about this long but it's like this wide, man! So he got the girth, right? So we call this song 'Girth'...
Wall, M. (1991) The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Hyperion

Coma' is monstrous.
RIP, June 1991

I like 'Coma' a lot. It's got a defibrillator in it- you know, the instrument that starts your heart when it's stopped. And there's some EKG beeps too. We were just fucking around, but the song is heavy, and Axl's vocals are gorgeous- I mean really amazing.
RIP, June, 1991

The only other effect that wasn't synthesized [besides gospel singers on 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' and harmonica on 'Bad Obsession'] was the defibrillator at the very beginning of 'Coma'. Yeah, that was real.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 318

Looking back at the song:

Coma’s pretty cool. It was pretty epic. Believe it or not, I heard it on the radio a couple of months ago. I was sitting in my car, and I had just pulled up to my driveway, and it came on, and I must have sat there for ten minutes listening to that song. I hadn’t heard it in a long time. It’s a long song!

I wrote Coma in my heroin delirium. That's a song that I'm still proud of. There's not a lot of 'technique' – it's a pretty straight up kinda Slash approach. But the thing that's really interesting was the vamp-out, which was this circular rotating chord progression that never ended: the same chord progression every time, but it just kept changing key. That was my mathematical musical discovery. I just stumbled on it and it's very much me doing my thing… but it worked.
Music Radar, September 2011

I wanna introduce the band, but before I do that I want to share a little piece of trivia on the song Coma. When we recorded that song, when we recorded Use Your Illusions, everybody was involved in different parts of writing it but only one person came down, once, to help with the vocals. And that was the help with one word. Slash came down to make sure I got the word "God dammit!" right. Just sharing that with you. It was very, very, very important to him that I got the right pronounciation and the right inflection on the word "God dammit". Just saying.
Live on stage, Buffalo, USA, August 16, 2017

Coma Newbor11

Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:41 am; edited 3 times in total
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Coma Empty Re: Coma

Post by Soulmonster Fri May 31, 2019 5:29 pm

From this interview it can be inferred that Slash worked on Coma in November 1990, because the interview takes place close to when Axl had the altercation with his neighbor in late October ("the other day"), and Slash says in the interview that he worked on the song "last night".
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