There I was, pondering which song to pick this week. It’s November. It’s rainy. Oh, I know …
Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain is epic in more ways than one. It’s a bombastic power ballad with one of the most indulgent guitar solos in the history of music. The video was at the time the most expensive ever made, with a reported cost of as much as $1.5 million. And at eight minutes and 57 seconds, it is the longest song ever to make the top ten of the US singles chart.
The video forms the second part of an unofficial trilogy along with Don’t Cry and Estranged. Directed by Andy Morahan, who also shot George Michael’s Faith and Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, its narrative revolves around singer Axl Rose marrying his then real-life girlfriend, the Victoria’s Secret and Playboy model Stephanie Seymour. But it’s probably best remembered for its extended swooping overhead shots of guitarist Slash playing his solo outside an isolated chapel. As you do.
November Rain reached number four in the UK and number three in the US, where it was the last of the band’s six top ten singles. Nearly 25 years after its original release in 1992, both the song and the video retain an enduring appeal. At the time of writing, it has nearly 700 million views on YouTube, making it the most viewed music video made in the 20th century.
Watch it and it’s easy to see why. It has a grand cinematographic quality that feels more at home on a movie screen than a TV or computer. It’s the Las Vegas of music videos, so over the top that it just works. And it’s still a great song too.