Intensities in Ten Suburbs

Just another weblog

100 Years, 100 Songs: #89. Guns n Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 22, 2007

“You know where you are?”

GnR was a band whose career was almost scripted from the beginning to be made into a movie. Once Chinese Democracy is inevitably released–or inevitably not released, it doesn’t really matter–and everyone can stop holding their breath for the band’s unlikely triumphant return, it’s only a matter of time before the biopic hits the big screen. Meteoric rise and self-destructive collapse, drugs, near-death experiences, high-profile romances, tragic flaws abound–plus, what young actor wouldn’t want the chance to play Axl (hell, what young actor wouldn’t want the chance to play fucking Slash?) And when it finally gets made, the song playing over the trailer, the tagline on the posters, and if the filmmakers have any sense whatsoever, the movie’s title will all be “Welcome to the Jungle.”

No track has ever been more introductory than “Welcome to the Jungle.” Not just because it’s the first track on Appetite for Destruction, GnR’s first album. Not just because the song’s video actually begins with Axl literally getting off the bus to L.A. (chewing on a piece of hay!) and ends the video a scummed-out metal dude. And not just because the song is called “Welcome to the Jungle.” The song is just the perfect summation of the first act of Guns n Roses’ existence–if it wasn’t so fucking cool, it’d even sort of sound like the big opening number to a grand-scale Broadway musical.

Not to mention that the song itself has one of the best intros in rock history. It’s like a metal “Where the Streets Have No Name,” with Slash’s monster opening riff echoing out to the backseats like the band knew that they’d soon be playing in the biggest stadiums in the world, built up to the opening kick that unleashes one of the dirtiest, grungiest metal grooves of the late 80s. The verses aren’t particularly sutble or clever, but they get the point across, and the way it’s set up is actually kind of nifty–how each verse and chorus starts off the same way but always shifts a little bit from one to the next. Axl was nothing if not a great dramatist, and structurally, “Welcome to the Jungle” is fairly sublime.

The best part of “Jungle,” though, has to be the bridge (or really, one of the song’s many bridges–surprisingly complex song). After a couple cobwell hits (seriously, what other late-80s metal band would ever even think to use a cowbell?), flailing guitar notes land around Duff McKagan’s suddenly extremely sinister bass line and Steven Adler’s creeping drum rolls. Then Axl lets loose the now legendary shriek–“YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE? YOU’RE IN THE JUNGLE, BABY! YOU’RE GONNA DIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!” It’s spine-chilling and unspeakably awesome, and even though everyone’s probably heard it a million times by now, it’s still invigorating.

By the way, did anyone ever notice that the “YOU’RE IN THE JUNGLE, BABY!” part is nearly identical to a line in Charlie Watts & the 103rd Street Band’s 1969 funk hit “Do Your Thing“? Coincidence? Or is Axl really just a closet 60s funk enthusiast? You be the judge.


One Response to “100 Years, 100 Songs: #89. Guns n Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle””

  1. bassman08 said

    Does this mean that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” will not appear on this list? Because although some might disagree, I would posit that it’s a better song than “Welcome to the Jungle.” I think the intro might be more iconic than “Jungle.” And shit man, those solos….especially the second one, right before the “where do we go” bridge thingy. Fucking face melting. Plus its really sweet to play on GH2.

    Actually, now that I watch the video I realize that the first solo is really more of an extended interlude, and the last solo is more of an outro. But whatever. The actual solo is still like 90 seconds long so it threw me off and either way the part before the bridge thingy is awesome.

    Why do I like G’n’R so much?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: