Guns N’ Roses – ”November Rain” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“November Rain” is a quintessential power ballad about wanting to escape unrequited love and move into a real romance. The lyrics focus on convincing a woman to accept her feelings for the narrator while comparing loneliness to connection. Metaphor is heavily used for that second goal, and the song’s different movements flow logically as one half of a conversation.

According to Axl Rose, the song is related to his marriage to Erin Everly. In addition, its message is related to “Estranged,” which carries the message of “November Rain” one step further. Reportedly, there was a lot of contention within Guns N’ Roses over whether or not the song was even worth doing. Nonetheless, Rose’s dream-fueled creativity ensured the completion of both projects.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these passionate lyrics to discover their hidden meaning. We’ll also investigate the songwriting story and the universal themes that make this song so popular. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“November Rain” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics begin by essentially calling a woman’s bluff. Rose doesn’t ask her whether she has feelings for him; he tells her. He “can see a love restrained” in her eyes and begins persuading her to express it. He also makes it clear that he feels “the same,” which sets a straightforward tone for the rest of the song.

Why does he feel the need to do this right now, especially so bluntly? Essentially, it’s because he understands life is harsh and short. “Nothing lasts forever,” and “hearts can change,” so if the two of them have something special, they should go for it while they can.

The central metaphor in the song relates to the “candle” in “November rain.” This “candle” represents the fire of love. The rain represents the lonely, cold, and harsh nature of solitary existence. This is why, in the song’s music video, the crowd treats the rain as if it is a disaster. People tend to avoid loneliness at all costs.

This interpretation was plainly discussed in one interview with Axl Rose, who linked the lyrics to his relationship with Erin Everly. Their relationship ended up ending, which is why “Estranged” is considered an unofficial sibling to “November Rain.”

The second verse continues these thoughts. Rose knows that he and this woman have been “trying to kill the pain” for a while now but he wants to move forward instead of backward. If they could “lay it on the line” and honestly deal with their feelings, he’s confident their relationship would be worthwhile.

The track’s famous refrain shows how seriously Rose is taking the situation. He suggests taking some time “all alone” so that the pair can work out their feelings. This especially makes sense in light of Rose’s relationship with Erin Everly, which was characterized by fluctuations.

In the bridge, Rose attacks the idea that only time will heal heartbreak. He’s in favor of taking some time apart if needed, but he also thinks they should keep an “open heart” even in a hard world. The third verse informs us of Rose’s hope for when this time is over. When her “fears subside,” he knows “you [the woman] can love me [Rose].”

The final chorus predicts that “even cold November rain” will end. With this, the song breaks into a memorable guitar solo that blends into an outro. It emphasizes how “everybody needs somebody,” which seems to be a final plea from Rose to the woman. The song fades out after this climactic point, leaving the listener with a clear final message.

To sum up, “November Rain” is all about trying to form a connection in a lonely world. Instead of wasting time, the lyrics acknowledge that life is short and that genuine feelings should be acted on. This optimistic message has touched billions and is one of the reasons for the song’s enduring success.

The Story Behind “November Rain”

Although the lyrics relate to the true story of Axl Rose and Erin Everly’s relationship, the song itself predates the marital struggles that inspired the words. According to Slash’s autobiography, versions of the song had already been recorded as early as 1986.

The whole project, including the music videos, was really Axl’s creation. He had planned the song to be a complex ballad and often referred to Elton John tunes for guidance. Other members of the band were reportedly less interested in moving in this direction, causing friction within the group.

When it came time to create the music video, Rose already had a general idea. “Without You,” a short-story by Del James, served as the inspiration for the iconic music video (James is even credited in the long version). This explains the death of the bride (by gunshot) and the grief-related imagery, as these are themes in the plot of the story.

Despite the social frustration “November Rain” caused for Guns N’ Roses, the product has had enormous success. It peaked at the #3 position on the Billboard Top 100 and has received no shortage of praise from critics. It’s a popular tune at weddings because of its romantic message, which is an honor few songs receive.

The next time you play this classic, let these pieces of background information make it even more special!