APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

Civil War

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Civil War Empty Civil War

Post by Soulmonster Sat 7 Aug 2010 - 23:53

Civil War Newbor11
CIVIL WAR
Album:
Use Your Illusion II, 1991, track no. 1.


Written by:
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan.

Musicians:
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.
Lyrics:

"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

And
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


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

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.
Rockline, September 27, 1993

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 in 1989 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

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


Recording the song:

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

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


A couple years later, Axl would reference Dizzy's story:

And on the keyboards, the man who never knew you could tune a piano down half a step, Mr. Dizzy Fucking Reed!...As he put it, 'The bane of his existence
Buffalo, USA, August 16, 2017


Playing it for the first time at 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


Comparing the version of Nobody's Child with the version of Use Your Illusion II:

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.
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.
Rockline 1994


Talking about the song:

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 liner notes

And the song Civil War is another one [that I enjoy performing the most], too. It’s the first song I ever tracked with Guns N’ Roses [in the studio] and it’s the first time I heard myself on the radio, so I enjoy playing that.


In 2013, Alan Niven, who was angry at Axl, would praise the song while expressing disappointment over Axl:

You know, my question is regards to Axl is: What do you stand for, apart from your own narcissism and your own ego? What do you stand for, apart from an exercise of power around the sycophants around you? There was a moment of pure magic for me, in the Use Your Illusion period, and that's when I first heard what he was working on that became Civil War. And I thought that was fucking brilliant. In my consciousness he was Axl maturing into an incredible statesman of the medium to write a song like that and make a statement like that, I thought was absolutely brilliant. And, you know, and for me, brilliance in my perception is defined by John Lennon and Bob Dylan and I saw him moving to stand on the shoulders of those two giants. And then the fucker turns around and writes Right Next Door To Hell, you know. Which is about a little woman who lived next door to him who he beat over the head with a wine bottle. I mean, "Come on, dude," you know, "Perspective. Edit!" I mean, we all have shit to deal with in our lives and none of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes and we all have arguments and maybe not get on with our neighbors. But you're the front man of one of the biggest bands ever. What do you want to use that platform for?



Civil War Newbor11


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat 2 Jul 2022 - 16:31; edited 10 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 19:59

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Post by Soulmonster Fri 18 Aug 2017 - 8:39

When Axl introduced Dizzy now at the August 16 show in Buffalo, he references the quote from Dizzy above by saying "And on the keyboards, the man who never knew you could tune a piano down half a step, Mr. Dizzy Fucking Reed!...As he put it, 'The bane of his existence'" Very Happy
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Post by Blackstar Tue 14 Aug 2018 - 3:39

This is probably where Axl took the "Peruvian Guerilla General" quote (the speech part before the last chorus) from:

Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1989:

LIMA, PERU — The young guerrilla officer who gave his name as Jorge chose his words carefully as he tried to explain the strategy behind "selective annihilation."

"All popular war is violent," he said softly. "We use selective annihilation of mayors and government officials, for example, to destroy the presence of the state and create a vacuum. Then we fill that vacuum."

He sat back and let that sink in. "Violence is an integral part of armed struggle," he said. "As the popular war advances, peace gets closer. Only more popular war will bring peace."

Dressed neatly in a sweater and slacks, Jorge`s middle-class looks and pleasant demeanor belied the chilling doctrine of destruction driving Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrillas as they attempt to impose their vision of a pure communist utopia on Peru.

[...]
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-07-09/news/8902150889_1_abimael-guzman-shining-path-guerrillas
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Post by Soulmonster Tue 14 Aug 2018 - 7:58

Wow. How on earth did you discover that quote? Did you Google with the song lyrics?
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Post by Blackstar Tue 14 Aug 2018 - 9:14

Soulmonster wrote:Wow. How on earth did you discover that quote? Did you Google with the song lyrics?


Yeah. I read that book on the UYI's by Eric Weisbard and the writer expressed surprise that Axl quoted a Peruvian Maoist. And then I thought that Axl must have read it in some article, and I googled a line of the lyrics and Peru.

I was proud of myself for discovering it first Very Happy, but I just realised that someone on the GnREvolution forum had thought of googling the lyrics and found it years ago.
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Post by Blackstar Sun 8 Sep 2019 - 1:27

Review of the "Nobody's Child" compilation, including Civil War, in Kerrang, August 4, 1990.

Thanks to @Surge for sharing it!

Civil War 1990-011
VARIOUS
'Nobody's Child'
(Warner Bros 7599-26280-1)

KK


HERE IT is, kids! Proof Guns N’ Roses can still just about remember how to record songs, with a brand new track entitled ‘Civil War'. Unfortunately you're gonna have to be a real fanatic or else feeling pretty flush, as the song is tacked on the end of a 14-track compilation which attempts to pull at your heart strings in aid of sick or orphaned children in Romania (which is west of Tasmania, by the way).

So watch out for some really hideous stuff from the Travelling Wilburys, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder and Bee Gees amongst others.

Meanwhile, Elton John has submitted a track called ‘Medicine Man’ that has a groove strong enough to knock the stuffing out of his aging peers, and Mike And The Mechanics - in association with David Letterman’s in-house TV show band (featuring Anton Fig on drums) - give a bouncing pop rock version of ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’.

For real rock fans there’s only Billy Idol’s ‘Lovechild’ - a typical Idol-style tune to set you dancing -and, of course, the GN’R contribution.

I’m not a great fan of Guns N’ Roses - in fact I despise them in many ways, not least for making reckless living look cool to young impressionable kids - but it has to be said that ‘Civil War’ shows Axl and Co could be maturing. At first you probably won’t recognise this as a GN’R song, until Rose bursts into his unmistakable screech on the run up to the chorus.

Maybe their new album will show Guns N’ Roses to be deep thinking old farts who just want to sing about the Kennedys or the Vietnam war, in which case I guess they've already achieved what they set out to do.

Worth hearing if you’re a Guns N' Roses fan, if only to see where your cats are now at. But remember - home taping is killing music and it’s illegal. Ha ha ha.

DAVE REYNOLDS
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Post by Soulmonster Sat 2 Jul 2022 - 16:29

Alan Niven, praising Civil War while expressing disappointment over Axl:

You know, my question is regards to Axl is: What do you stand for, apart from your own narcissism and your own ego? What do you stand for, apart from an exercise of power around the sycophants around you? There was a moment of pure magic for me, in the Use Your Illusion period, and that's when I first heard what he was working on that became Civil War. And I thought that was fucking brilliant. In my consciousness he was Axl maturing into an incredible statesman of the medium to write a song like that and make a statement like that, I thought was absolutely brilliant. And, you know, and for me, brilliance in my perception is defined by John Lennon and Bob Dylan and I saw him moving to stand on the shoulders of those two giants. And then the fucker turns around and writes Right Next Door To Hell, you know. Which is about a little woman who lived next door to him who he beat over the head with a wine bottle. I mean, "Come on, dude," you know, "Perspective. Edit!" I mean, we all have shit to deal with in our lives and none of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes and we all have arguments and maybe not get on with our neighbors. But you're the front man of one of the biggest bands ever. What do you want to use that platform for?
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