When you think of rock music across any era, and you imagine the epitome of what rock can be, what is the first song you think of?
The measuring stick against which all others are measured.
Until now, the arguments about the best song are about as clear and concise as are the roles within the Red Sox bullpen. Top 10, top 25, top 100 or in Rolling Stone magazine’s case top 500, the experts can’t even agree on how big the list should be, let along who is included.
I didn’t realize how murky these waters were until I dove in and thank goodness I have, because I will clean this up faster than the EPA.
The best, the G.O.A.T, the Tom Brady of rock tunes is: Paradise City by Guns N Roses.
Here’s the case:
The song starts out with Steven Adler slowly mapping out the beat, just a slow steady thumping with a little almost sound-check-tinkling of guitars, almost like a tease. Axl chimes in and clearly states the theme for this ride:
"Take me down to the Paradise City
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (oh won't you please take me home)"
And this is repeated, so the listener now knows that we are going on a musical journey with a destination complete with manicured lawns and beautiful females. Sounds pretty nice, right?
This concise open accomplishes something else, it gets everybody on board with the game plan. Everybody can recite these lyrics and thus sing along. Singing along is key to a song’s “GOATness” and especially in this case because the request to take Axl back to the Paradise City, with the aforementioned healthy sod and attractive ladies, will be repeated no less than 479 times during the song.
Usually repeating a lyric in a tune is a major turn off for me, but the song changes so much sonically that the chorus almost becomes a mantra or a rally cry while Slash and the boys unleash chaos unto the land of emerald pastures and foxy gals.
Timing in at almost 7 minutes, Paradise City never stops rocking. Not like other rock monoliths like Stairway to Heaven, Free Bird or Bohemian Rhapsody that make you wait 6 or 7 minutes to get to the Wayne’s World-esque head banging sequence. These masterpieces paint the corners with finesse like Greg Maddux. Nothing wrong with Greg Maddux. But Paradise City is about power. Paradise City’s ace would be Roger Clemens. Just throwing gas. You want to change speeds? THROW HARDER! No change ups needed.
PC (we’re that close that I can refer to the song by initials) rocks, then it rocks and just as a normal mortal tune wound be winding down, anarchy rains down (or in the case when they closed their 3.5 hour Garden show two years ago, confetti, flames and pyro) and Guns N Roses takes you to a place that rock hasn’t taken you before.
I guess that is the Paradise City.
Now show me to the visually appealing dames and Scott’s Turf Builder!