Guns N Roses… Heck yeah! Say what you will, most either hate them or love them. I am the latter. They have gained a lot more press lately having started a tour for the first time in 23 years. But why the hell would I be talking about Guns N Roses on a Beatles Mystery Blog? Well, on the surface, the two bands may seem totally different- nearly opposites as far as popular rock bands are concerned. And I am the first to admit that I make strange connections at times (my mind can be a very strange place). But recently, I have been re-watching some of my old favorite Guns N Roses videos from their Use Your Illusion (I&II) albums in a new light. Many of the videos from this DOUBLE album scream “Beatles Mysteries” to me. It really hit me when “Don’t Cry” came on- (we will get into that) so much so it inspired this article. I am relatively sure this is simply a common theme throughout the entertainment industry (and well beyond). Rather than “Beatles Mysteries” perhaps it is simply the “Mysteries” or a spiritual knowledge that some of these people are privy to, and subsequently display their knowledge esoterically in their artforms.
Whatever the case may be, Axl Rose (Real name William– his friends call him Bill) is a HUGE Macca/Beatles fan. I personally think Axl pays homage to Sir Paul quite often (as you will see) and even plays on the “Paul is Dead” theme throughout the imagery from the music videos on this album. Let’s dig in a bit, shall we?
This double album “Use Your Illusion I & II” was released in 1991. 1991 is a mirrored year (19|91) and is exactly 25 years past 1966 (1966 is a year that keeps coming up over and over again). Perhaps the album is an homage to events that may have happened in 1966, particularly as you will see- the fall of 1966. But regardless of how you feel about that, the symbolism in the lyrics as well as the music videos for this album are beyond a doubt playing on the “twin/mirror/double” imagery as you will see below.
The album was released showing a new more “artistic” side of Guns N Roses- ((Who knew Axl could play the piano??!!)) A perfecting or a “maturing” of the Rock Image just before the big hair Rock Band went out of style with the installation of Grunge Rock. Hello Nirvana!! The NumberNineBlog has already discussed the Beatles/Nirvana Synchronicities– GnR fits in nicely as well… For me, there are striking similarities with this album, and when the Beatles stopped touring to return to the studio to create their studio masterpieces, sgt. Pepper and beyond.
A quick overview on the album cover itself; both albums’ covers are the work of an American artist Mark Kostabi. They consist of detail from Raphael’s painting The School of Athens. From Wikipedia regarding Raphael’s Masterpiece “The School of Athens” :
The School of Athens is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes,” “Divine Inspiration,” “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due.” Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law. The traditional title is not Raphael’s. The subject of the “School” is actually “Philosophy,” or at least ancient Greek philosophy, and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio,” tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed, Plato and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers depicted sought knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, and hardly a third were Athenians. The architecture contains Roman elements, but the general semi-circular setting having Plato and Aristotle at its centre might be alluding to Pythagoras’ circumpunct.
Perhaps the first impression that you are supposed to take with you from the cover art is- Think! (or as George told us- Think For Yourself) but not just think- but think of origins or the “first causes” or the deeper meanings of life. The subtle nod to the Mystery Schools is also present, if you just look a little deeper. The title of the album is also suggesting magick- “Use Your Illusion” and the duality of the double album itself all in all have the markings of a modern-day esoteric masterpiece. But “they” have always said- “Never judge a book (or in this case, an album) by it’s cover”- so let’s take a look inside. Just bear in mind, this is just my opinion on the observations I have made here. I am only going to touch on a few of the most prominent areas that I noticed, perhaps this article will inspire you to go back and re-watch these videos and listen to the album with a new perspective.
When November Rain was released in 1991 it was the most talkedabout video since Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It won multiple awards, including Mtv’s viewer choice award. It was (and still is) epic (in my opinion of course). This song and corresponding video are a masterpiece all on their own. It is the most watched video not made in the 21st century, with well over 240 million views. At the time, it was the most expensive music video ever recorded, costing well over a million dollars, and yet remains the 13th most expensive video ever made today.
First items to note, the title- “November Rain” signifying fall or time of the harvest, and “Rain” which may be symbolic of the mutual relationship we as mortals have with the “gods”- The gods send down the rain to impregnate Earth, and facilitate the rebirth or the renewal of the land, ensuring a good harvest. The people then show their gratitude for the gifts from the gods by making offerings and sacrifices to them in return. The word “rain” could also be viewed as “reign” giving this and many other songs a whole different meaning. The imagery in November Rain is really no different than exactly that.
The video is nine minutes long. November is the Eleventh Month (9/11) or (11/9) Both of which are important to the “Paul is Dead” theory and occult imagery.
The imagery of the video overall reminds me of Eleanor Rigby- a wedding, then a funeral, then a burial. But that of course is open to interpretation.
And then there appears to be a bit of a “sync-wink” to John Lennon’s Imagine- but using an opposite color scheme, and a darker more desolate ambiance. Both videos give a surreal, dream-like encounter for the viewer, both songs defined and immortalized the singers respectively. Axl even wears a Sgt.Pepper-Styled jacket and wears his John Lennon glasses proudly in this scene.
We are lead to believe that this video was inspired by the short story Without You” by Del James, and it does seem to follow that storyline… kind of. However, I think a big clue has been overlooked here as to what this video was really about. The opening scene, we have Axl sitting on the edge of his bed- taking a handful of pills. The pills are located on the bedside table with what’s appears to be a disfigured crucifix. The following scene takes us inside a church where we see a real depiction of Jesus crucified, crying tears of blood. And then a candle is blown out. I believe this is to symbolically signify that Axl has just died, and all the following sequences are surreal, dream-like IMAGINations or perhaps even suppressed memories.
The ending has a very mysterious feel to it. Very sad and somber. The bride appears inside a coffin with a mirror disguising half of her face. The red color runs out of her wedding bouquet like blood, revealing the white flowers (Roses and Lilies) underneath. (The sacrifice?) Things are left to interpretation, and we are left with the impression that we did not quite get the whole story. Don’t Cry Axl- everything will be OK…. speaking of which-
This video is amazing. From my perspective, this video resonates with the Paul Is Dead theory quite well. If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of PID- this may not make much sense. Of course, even if you are familiar with the ins and outs of the PID theory- this may not make much sense. Welcome to the jungle of my very strange mind, CAUTION: Strange PID ramblings ahead!
It begins with an image of a crow nestled inside A baby’s single blue eye.
Scenes of a white car crash that ends in a fiery blaze. The car used in this scene was a 1966 Shelby. What are the odds?
Axl Rose (GnR’s frontman, who twins Paul Mccartney here IMO) lands in the hospital. (Apparently he drowned) Where a layover of a newspaper article with an interesting headline fades out of the screen.
The scene pans to:
Notice the crow in the room, and Axl’s Sirius dog shirt (Sirius is a “twin” or binary star.)
Beneath the grave (in the underworld) we see Axl looking up at himself, while looking down on himself while naked and painted green… wait- what?
Axl Rose as the green man in the Underworld- or Osiris? We’ve been here before on the Number Nine blog, haven’t we. Why stop now?
As the video comes to an end, the baby from the beginning of the video is reborn (birth/death/resurrection/rebirth- Osiris resonance again) and the blue-eyed baby has now turned his eyes to green. Much like how some PIDers lay claim to the color-change of Paul McCartney’s eyes post-1966.
There’s certainly a lot goin’ on in this video.
Perhaps cementing the PID ‘sync-wink’ is the lesser-known GnR’ hit from this DOUBLE album, ‘Yesterday’. In this black and white video we see Axl once again… doing what Axl does. But the lyrics, when viewed in an alternative light, are quite interesting.
Compare GnR’s ‘Yesterday’ With Paul’s ‘Yesterday’ on the Ed Sullivan show. GnR’s version coming in at exactly 3:11 (33) long, and the Beatles at 2:11 (22). Both in black and white, both performed in a ‘live’ type of setting for the recording. Probably just my over active imagination once again, but that’s what you get on The Number Nine Blog!
Yesterday, there were so many things I was never shown
Suddenly, this time, I found I’m on the streets and I’m all alone
Yesterday’s got nothing for me
Old pictures that I’ll always see
I ain’t got time to reminisce old novelties
Yesterday’s got nothing for me
We mustn’t forget Guns n Roses only cover song on their DOUBLE Use Your Illusion album…
Live and Let Die.
I simply can not call this article complete without mentioning it.
Love and Let Die is of course Paul McCartney’s infamous song. On its own, probably wouldn’t carry much merit, but put it together with all the rest of the imagery from this album, and you have yourself a blog article worthy of thenumbernine’s strange Beatles rantings. Well that… and these images from the video. At this point, I feel there is no further explaination necessary.
Honestly, pretty much every video made from this DOUBLE 1991 masterpiece album has the same type of “twin/double/mirrored” imagery. What is the point? Is Axl and his bandmates trying to clue us in to the Paul is Dead phenomenon? Or is there more going on here? Considering the imagery produced in so many videos, music, photography etc etc transcend various artists, producers, photographers et all I approach these matters with caution. Guns N Roses’ Use your illusion 1&2 could simply be- like the Sgt. Pepper Album- a display of newfound enlightenment. Perhaps it’s not so much “Paul is Dead… miss him miss him miss him” as it is a hidden knowledge set displayed esoterically by those ‘in the know’ you know?
Or maybe… it’s all of those things and more.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my strange musings on Guns N Roses twinning/mirror/double and the Paul is Dead phenomenon. Hate it? Love it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and criticisms below in the comments. Thanks for reading!!