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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

Mr. Brownstone

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Mr. Brownstone Empty Mr. Brownstone

Post by Soulmonster Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:54 pm

Mr. Brownstone Newbor11
MR. BROWNSTONE
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 5.



Written by:
Most of it written by Izzy and Slash (with a few words by Desi), then further improved by the rest of the band.

Musicians:
Vocals: Axl Rose; lead guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
The song was played for the first time at The Whisky on August 23, 1986. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {MRBROWNSTONESONGS} times.
Lyrics:

I get up around seven
Get outta bed around nine
And I don't worry about nothin' no
'Cause worrin's a waste of my... time

The show usually starts around seven
We go on stage around nine
Get on the bus about eleven
Sippin' a drink and feelin' fine
     
We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone
He's been knockin'
He won't leave me alone
No, no , no, he won't leave me alone

I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
     
Now I get up around whenever
I used ta get up on time
But that old man he's a real muthafucker
Gonna kick him on down the line

We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone
He's been knockin'
He won't leave me alone

I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
     
Shoved it in the bindle and I shot it in the middle
And it, it drove outta my mind
I should've known better, said I wish I never, ever said I
I leave it all behind
Yowsa!


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

That was written during a time when a couple of us were all strung out and we might have written the song that night about being strung out. But now, now that we're playing to 15,000 people every night, it's taken on a different light. I wouldn’t want to influence anybody to take drugs. That would make me feel guilty. The song is a statement, neither for nor against.

It’s sort of a joke. I mean, I think people take it a little bit more seriously than what it was written to be. I mean, to be totally honest, it was me and Izzy sitting in an apartment up and hot, like, by Hollywood Boulevard, and that was the room we used to sell our drugs from and all that stuff at the time, and we were both what you would call seriously strung out. And it was just a joke. It was like, we were high and we were just playing acoustic guitar, and Mr. Brownstone, “I get up around 7, go to bed...” – you know, whatever – and “I get to the gig whenever,” blah blah blah, and “I used to do a little, but a little wouldn’t do it, now it’s more and more.” It was just not – it was just the kind of thing, it was about what was going on at the time. It’s not pro or con, or anything like that. It was just about the situation.

[...] me and Izzy wrote the words to Brownstone [...].

Um, let’s see... Me and Izzy were sitting around, um, intoxicated one night. The song, if you really read it, you know what it’s about, then you sort of just read into it. It’s sort of self-explanatory. It’s basically about having a serious habit and the lifestyle that goes along with it, and we just happened to be sitting in the middle of it at the time. It’s sort of a joke. It’s sort of like a parody.

That was written during a time when a couple of us were all strung out and we might have written the song that night about being strung out. But now, now that we're playing to 15,000 people every night, it's taken on a different light. I wouldn’t want to influence anybody to take drugs. That would make me feel guilty. The song is a statement, neither for nor against.

And 'Mr. Brownstone'... It reminded me of a Stones-ish type funk-thing and so, I just played around with it. And then, you know, we heard our rehearsal tape back and it sounded like it might work. So, I just started practising that way. (...) We have countless other friends that have spent, you know, upwards to like 50 grand on rehabilitation. They can't get away from drugs. (...) I've lost at least five or six people that I hung out with every day. So Brownstone is just about having a battle with it, and wishing you'd never touched the stuff and trying to get away from it.
Axl/Slash Interview - 1988

The first time I can remember working out parts with [Slash] was on 'Brownstone.' We wrote that a couple years back in my kitchen. We were sitting around with acoustic guitars.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, 1988

When we moved out of our place on Fountain and La Cienega, I was the last one to leave, and found this piece of yellow paper wadded up in the corner where Izzy's and Steven's room was. It had the lyrics to 'Mr. Brownstone' on it. I read it and went, "This is great". They said they had music for it and we ended up starting to rehearse this thing.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road

"Mr. Brownstone" was written totally by Izzy. I found that on the floor of the apartment we were living in at the time on a piece of paper wadded up on the floor in a corner, and I liked it so much - and he was like, "No, way! You like that?"
Cream, September 1989

Izzy wrote nine-tenths [of the lyrics] of 'Mr. Brownstone' and nine-tenths of 'Think About You.' I changed a couple of words here and there that fit better.
Screamer, August 1988

I guess that was the most heroin-suggesting song on the record. Izzy and I wrote that sitting in his apartment, loaded. And as most junkies do, we started writing lyrics about the perils and the boredom of the whole thing, the sort of redundant process we were immersed in.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007


Desi Craft would claim she had not been credited for her involvement:

One time, Slash came to our place on Orchid with a lump of Mexican tar heroin and he wanted to cook it all up. Izzy and I told him to just do a little bit because there was this death tar going around. He said it was okay and shot up. Well, he pretty much went rigor mortis in the chair and we got him on the floor. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and I remember him going "Is this death or is this an angel I'm seeing?", because he was so out of it. Right after that we wrote "Mr. Brownstone" and I wrote that with them. I was really upset that I never got credit for that. But why dwell on the past. That's how that song came about.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road


But Slash would marginalize Craft's contribution:

[...] One of the first songs we wrote up [at Dean Chamberlain's] was 'Mr. Brownstone,' a track that was conceived under much dimmer circumstances. Izzy, his girlfriend Dezi, and I were up at their apartment one night when we came up with it. They had a little dinette set that we'd sit around cooking up our shit and then we'd just jam. We were sitting there complaining, as junkies do, about our dealers, as well as just complaining about being junkies, and that's where that song came from. It basically described a day in the life for us at the time. Izzy had a cool idea, he came up with the riff, and we started improvising the lyrics. Dezi considers herself a cowriter of that track and for the record she did come up with maybe a noun here, perhaps a conjunction there. When we had it all together, we wrote the words down on a grocery bag. We brought it down to the Fountain apartment and played it for Axl and he reworked the lyrics a bit before the band worked on it at our next rehearsal. Axl could always take a simple Izzy melody and turn it into something fantastic, and that is just one of the examples.
"Slash", 2007


Introducing the song:

This next song is a brand new song and I think it goes with a little bit of warning. I've seen a lot of my close friends, and I've seen a lot of other people I know, get really fucked up when they discovered this drug called heroin. The next thing you know, your life is fucked because you are just too fucking cool. This song is called "Mr. Brownstone". And I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit.
The Whisky, August 23, 1986

If you're going to mess with drugs you are going to have to be careful with it...if you want to be around. Deal with it in moderation [?]. This is about heroin, this is a song called 'Mr. Brownstone'.
Open Air Theatre, San Diego, USA; September 4, 1987

I hear different comments about this next song. A lot of questions. A lot of rumours get started...some are true, some are bullshit. But I guess that's Hollywood. Anyway, I've seen a lot of my friends, a lot of close friends, end up in 15,000 rehab centers. I see them have to go in two or three times. Now I haven't got anything against partying...with whatever you can find. But use your head and keep your ass alive, 'cause you're the only one who's really gonna fuckin' look after your own ass! I've seen a couple friends go and I don't want to see it happen no more so you be careful next time you go dancin' with Mr. Brownstone!
Perkin's Palace, December 30, 1987

This is something about -- I don't know how many of you will understand what I am saying -- letting something else take control of your lives. It could be alcohol, drugs, anything, and learning how to kick its ass. This is something called 'Mr. Brownstone'.
Tokyo Dome, December 30, 1988


Izzy, always cautious when it came to his drug habits, would not admit it was about heroin:

It can mean a million different things to a million different people. It's like when you listen to a Zeppelin song, what do you think? I have all kinds of fucking wild ideas about what 'Custard Pie' is about.
Hit Parader, March 1988


And Slash would try to argue it was about other people's drug habit, not theirs:

A lot of people have a misconception about this song. They think it's about drugs. It's not so much a statement about our drug habits; it's a more a statement about other people's drug habits. It's a good little ditty that people can listen to and maybe think about what they're doing.
Hit Parader, March 1988


Talking about the song:

It’s a song about attempting to avoid or kick the habit of heroin, get away from it; and getting away from it. […] All it’s really talking about is heroin can be a nagging habit, and be annoyed of the “naggingess” of that habit. […]  As I said, I think it refers to any form of substance abuse or emotional repressive. That’s how I look at the song, and always have. It’s like, in its simplest term you can look at it as heroin, or you can do what you want with the song.
Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit, August 23, 1993

Rarely does an opening drum beat cause as much of a ruckus as this Steven Adler-divined gem. Killer song. Genius lyrics.

Middle riff of Perfect Crime, & Brownstone riff Smile [are my favorite riffs from Guns N' Roses]
Unknown source


Duff being asked about the hardest song to play in the studio:

Um… wow… the hardest to play song… You know, by the time we got to the studio with anything, I was so well rehearsed on anything that might have been hard. You know, there were certain, like, little flash riffs, little flourishes. And the way Slash and I play off each other, we play a lot of the same thing, like bass guitar we’d play the same little riffs, and there's some things he'll play on guitar that are really fuckin’ hard to play on bass just because the strings are so much bigger and so far apart than a guitar; on guitar it's kind of an easy riff, but on bass it's not so easy. You know, a song like Brownstone… On a guitar you can play that on three strings. On bass, you can't. I would have to play that riff, that (sings) “but a little dum dum dum” – I’d play that all on one string so it’d sound even. And that's where bass gets difficult, because you have to make everything sound sort of even, so I had to play that riff all on one string and that's a tough little riff to play on one string. That's probably, maybe, the hardest thing I had to learn how to do.


Steven would claim it was a warning from Axl, but that doesn't fit with the lyrics mostly having been written by Izzy:

'Mr Brownstone' was a thinly veiled warning from Axl to all of us, including himself. We all saw how drugs had been granted a permanent VIP laminate in our lives, but we also believed we were indestructible
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010


More likely, Steven was talking about how Axl used to introduce the song at live shows.

Apparently, Alan Niven mixed the very first version of the song:

And another little story. I don't know if you know, but do you know who did the first mix for a track of Appetite? [...] It was Michelotti [?] and myself. We did the first mix for any track off Appetite and we did Brownstone. [...] and Geffen used it on countless B sides and we never got paid a dime..


Mr. Brownstone Newbor11


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Jul 02, 2022 7:38 pm; edited 18 times in total
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Mr. Brownstone Empty Re: Mr. Brownstone

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:56 am

Desi Craft: One time, Slash came to our place on Orchid with a lump of Mexican tar heroin and he wanted to cook it all up. Izzy and I told him to just do a little bit because there was this death tar going around. He said it was okay and shot up. Well, he pretty much went rigor mortis in the chair and we got him on the floor. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and I remember him going "Is this death or is this an angel I'm seeing?", because he was so out of it. Right after that we wrote "Mr. Brownstone" and I wrote that with them. I was really upset that I never got credit for that. But why dwell on the past. That's how that song came about [Marc Canter: Reckless Road].
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Mr. Brownstone Empty Re: Mr. Brownstone

Post by Soulmonster Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:43 pm

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Mr. Brownstone Empty Re: Mr. Brownstone

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:12 am

Nick DeRiso wrote:Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Mr. Brownstone’ Predicts a Desolate Future: The Story Behind Every ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Song

Written while in the studio recording 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, “Mr. Brownstone” describes Guns N’ Roses‘ eventual descent into dope with prescient, excruciating detail.

Izzy Stradlin scratched out an original rough draft while staying in one of the band’s flop-house Hollywood hotels; Axl Rose was said to have found the scrap of paper when the band was checking out one day. Slash and Rose then completed “Mr. Brownstone,” adding a sadly ironic line at the end which doesn’t appear on the lyric sheet: “I shoulda known better; I wish I’d never met her.”

Instead, another line from “Mr. Brownstone” – which was said to be named after a favorite dealer – more accurately describes what eventually happened, as several band members began pitched struggles with drugs: “I used to do a little, but a little wouldn’t do it. So, the little got more and more.”

Steven Adler would reportedly suffer some 28 overdoses, along with two heart attacks and a stroke. Stradlin once went into a 96-hour drug-fueled coma. Duff McKagan‘s damaged pancreas grew to the size of a football. Slash spent decades in and out of rehab before finally kicking heroin.

Things got so bad that “Mr. Brownstone” became something else entirely in 1989: A warning shot across the bow. Rose referenced this song specifically during an Oct. 18 opening gig for the Rolling Stones, in a desperate attempt to get the others to clean up their act.

“I hate to do this on stage,” Rose told fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum, “but I tried every other f—ing way. And unless certain people in this band get their s— together, these will be the last Guns N’ Roses shows you’ll f—ing ever see. ‘Cause I’m tired of too many people in this organization dancing with Mr. Goddamn Brownstone.”

Years before, Guns N’ Roses’ every-day decadence still seemed to be working in their favor – both in terms of their bad-boy image, and on danger-filled tracks like “Mr. Brownstone.” This was the initial song completed after they signed a deal with Geffen, and “Mr. Brownstone” – which Rose sang over a bed of angular, blues-soaked riffs – later became Guns N’ Roses’ first international single.

Adler’s Bo Diddley-inspired beat gave the track its racing heartbeat. “He’s a huge hero of mine,” Slash later said of Diddley, in a talk with NME. “Bo Diddley created a myth that was uniquely his own. An entire rhythm is owed to just one guy, and that’s pretty rare.”

The band soldiered on after the L.A. meltdown. Soon, however, “Mr. Brownstone” began to feel like something of an albatross. Rose made a point of distancing himself from this song, adding personalized comments before each performance.

“Some people think I’m condoning heroin,” Rose remembered in Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses. “We did this one show, and they were throwing needles on stage. So, now I do my little thing about how it’s your responsibility to actually wake up the next morning. I don’t rehearse this or anything; I always do it a little differently. I show them where I’m coming from.”

His long-ago on-stage tirade, however, would not soon be forgotten. Guns N’ Roses eventually sobered up – even the troubled Adler, who had the most difficulty kicking drugs – but by then Rose had become the lineup’s lone-remaining classic-era member. “I knew it was directed at me, because I was real strung out at the time,” Slash told VH-1. “But it was probably one of the things that made me hate Axl more than anything.”

McKagan went further, saying Rose’s comments specifically precipitated a split that lasted from the late ’90s through 2016.

“I shrank; I was so f—ing embarrassed,” McKagan said in It’s So Easy and Other Lies. “Once Axl took his concerns public, the times of being a gang – us against the world – were over. We played the rest of the show, but it was a half-hearted effort at best. Afterward, and really for the remainder of our career, we just went our separate ways. That night officially rang the bell for the end of an era in GNR.”
Source: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/guns-n-roses-mr-brownstone/
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Post by Soulmonster Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:22 am

New quote from Slash when talking about who wrote the lyrics to songs off 'Appetite':

[...] me and Izzy wrote the words to Brownstone [...].


And on writing the song:

Um, let’s see... Me and Izzy were sitting around, um, intoxicated one night. The song, if you really read it, you know what it’s about, then you sort of just read into it. It’s sort of self-explanatory. It’s basically about having a serious habit and the lifestyle that goes along with it, and we just happened to be sitting in the middle of it at the time. It’s sort of a joke. It’s sort of like a parody.
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Post by Soulmonster Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:57 pm

New quote added:

That was written during a time when a couple of us were all strung out and we might have written the song that night about being strung out. But now, now that we're playing to 15,000 people every night, it's taken on a different light. I wouldn’t want to influence anybody to take drugs. That would make me feel guilty. The song is a statement, neither for nor against.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:16 pm

Rarely does an opening drum beat cause as much of a ruckus as this Steven Adler-divined gem. Killer song. Genius lyrics.
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Post by Soulmonster Mon Mar 21, 2022 8:40 am

Duff being asked about the hardest song to play in the studio:

Um… wow… the hardest to play song… You know, by the time we got to the studio with anything, I was so well rehearsed on anything that might have been hard. You know, there were certain, like, little flash riffs, little flourishes. And the way Slash and I play off each other, we play a lot of the same thing, like bass guitar we’d play the same little riffs, and there's some things he'll play on guitar that are really fuckin’ hard to play on bass just because the strings are so much bigger and so far apart than a guitar; on guitar it's kind of an easy riff, but on bass it's not so easy. You know, a song like Brownstone… On a guitar you can play that on three strings. On bass, you can't. I would have to play that riff, that (sings) “but a little dum dum dum” – I’d play that all on one string so it’d sound even. And that's where bass gets difficult, because you have to make everything sound sort of even, so I had to play that riff all on one string and that's a tough little riff to play on one string. That's probably, maybe, the hardest thing I had to learn how to do.
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Post by Soulmonster Sat Jul 02, 2022 7:38 pm

Alan Niven mixed the first version of Mr. Brownstone:

And another little story. I don't know if you know, but do you know who did the first mix for a track of Appetite? [...] It was Michelotti [?] and myself. We did the first mix for any track off Appetite and we did Brownstone. [...] and Geffen used it on countless B sides and we never got paid a dime..
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