Paradise City is a song written by the hard rock band Guns N' Roses. It is included on the 1987 album Appetite for Destruction and was released as a single in 1988. It is also the only song on the album to use a synthesizer. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, the third single of the band's to go Top 10.
Slash states that the song was written in the back of a rental van as they were on their way back from playing a gig in San Francisco with the band Jetboy. He states that the band was in the back of the van, drinking and playing acoustic guitars when he came up with the intro. Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin started playing along. Slash started humming a melody when Axl Rose sang, "Take me down to the Paradise City." Slash chimed in with "Where the girls are fat and they've got big titties." but the rest of the band wanted to make the song more 'radio-friendly', so Axl sang the first line again, where Slash chimed in with "Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty." Axl finished with "Take . . . me . . . home!" The band then expanded upon the rest of the lyrics in rounds. Finally Slash wrapped up by coming up with the heavy riff that drives the song.
"Paradise City" is thought by some to be about Los Angeles and its political corruption at the time. Some believe the song to be written about Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin's hometown of Lafayette (Indiana) and the nearby Purdue University campus. During a 1998 interview, Rose told Hit Parader Magazine that "the verses are more about being in the jungle; the chorus is like being back in the Midwest or somewhere". This song was often used as the band's show-closing song during the Use Your Illusion Tour and Chinese Democracy Tour
It was also ranked #21 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs of All Time, #3 in Total Guitar Magazine's list of the 100 greatest solos of all time, and has won various similar awards over the years. It ranked #453 on Rolling Stones' "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Velvet Revolver later played "Paradise City" together with Cypress Hill, hence partially transforming the song into a raptrack.
Camp Freddy, a cover band performed the song along with the original guitarists, Slash and Duff McKagan, and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The song is the theme tune for the racing game Burnout Paradise which is set in a fictional location also called Paradise City. Slash has stated that this is his favorite Guns N' Roses song. During live Guns N' Roses shows, "Paradise City" is usually performed last, as an encore. This has been a tradition since at least 1988, up to their latest tour. They also performed the song live at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992.
Half of the music video was filmed at Giants Stadium in New Jersey while Guns N' Roses were on tour with Aerosmith, midway through the video, they are seen boarding the Concorde jet so they could make an appearance in England, and return as quickly as possible back to the USA to continue touring with one of their major influences. The concert in England is the Monsters of Rock event at Donington Park. The reason for this is because of some deaths that took place while Guns N' Roses were performing. As a result, they thought the footage taken at the concert would be good music video footage and a proper show of respect to those who died at the concert. Duff can also be seen wearing an Aerosmith t-shirt in the video. Here is the official Paradise City music video:
- N-Trance recorded a version of "Paradise City" (using the song's riff), on their 1999 album Happy Hour.
- Post-hardcore band Eighteen Visions made a cover of the song which appeared on the Guns N' Roses tribute compilation Bring You To Your Knees: A Tribute to Guns & Roses. The key of the song is dropped a whole step lower, and played on guitars tuned to drop-B. The low B open chord can actually be heard on the bridge following the solo. Also, the fast punk ending of the GNR version is replaced with an ironically slow, almost sludge metal, like turn on the original riff.
- Warrior Soul performed this song in a more psychedelic and metal style for the GNR-tribute album, "Appetite For Reconstruction".
- In 1999, Hole performed "Paradise City" live at the Big Day Out in Australia.
- Velvet Revolver have also covered this song with Cypress Hill.
- Perhaps the most obscure version of this song is by legendary R&B/swing singer Pat Boone, off his 1997 album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy.
- At a March 25, 2008 concert in Fort Wayne (Indiana), American Idol winner and country singer Carrie Underwood performed "Paradise City".
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