Guns N’ Roses drops controversial song from new box set
A Guns N’ Roses song accused of containing racist, homophobic and xenophobic lyrics has been quietly excluded from a collection of old recordings being released next month.
Guns N’ Roses last week announced plans to release a box set containing a remastered version of its major label debut, 1987′s “Appetite for Destruction,” as well as dozens of other tunes including bonus tracks and nearly the entirety of the band’s second studio album, 1988′s “G N’ R Lies.”
“One in a Million,” a controversial Guns N’ Ruses song that originally appeared as the last track on “Lies,” is the only tune from the band’s sophomore record omitted from the forthcoming box set.
Press materials issued in anticipation of the compilation’s release made no mention of the song’s exclusion, and the band’s publicist did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Nearly 30 years after its inclusion on “Lies” sparked outrage, however, the decision to drop “One in a Million” may have been a deliberate maneuver meant to avoid repeating the backlash brought on at the time in response its lyrics, including specific lines containing racial and homophobic slurs.
“Police and [expletives],” frontman Axl Rose sings on the track, using a racial epithet for African Americans. “Get outta my way / Don’t need to buy none of your gold chains today.”
“Immigrants and [expletives], they make no sense to me,” he sings later, using a derogatory term for gay men. “They come to our country / And think they’ll do as they please / Like start some mini-Iran / Or spread some [expletive] disease.”
While “Lies” quickly sold millions of copies within months of its release, the song’s lyrics caused significant controversy at the time and garnered swift reactions from the heads of watchdog organizations including the Parents’ Music Resource Center and Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others, as well as a defensive explanation from Mr. Rose.
“I don’t like boundaries of any kind. I don’t like being told what I can and what I can’t say,” Mr. Rose told Rolling Stone magazine in 1989.
“I used the [n-word] because it’s a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. [It] doesn’t necessarily mean black,” said the singer. “When I use the word immigrants, what I’m talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village Pantries a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan, et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you like you don’t belong here.
“I’ve had some very bad experiences with homosexuals,” Mr. Rose added.
Guns N’ Roses’ second album ultimately sold over 5 million copies in the United States. Expanded versions of “Appetite for Destruction” containing all but one song from “Lies” are slated to be sold starting June 29.