Rewriting history: Guns N Roses quietly remove racist, homophobic song from reissue
Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini-Iran
Or spread some fucking disease
And they talk so many God damn ways
It’s all Greek to me
That’s not a poem I just wrote — I value my job, my safety, and a general sense of equality — it’s the lyrics from the incendiary ‘One In A Million’, a track from G N’ R Lies, a stopgap album released in 1988 after the monumental success of their debut album Appetite For Destruction.
That entire album — actually an early mock-live EP coupled with four acoustic tracks, including the whistle-heavy single ‘Patience’ — is included on a five-disc reissue of Appetite to be released next month.
The set is expansive: on top of four CDs (remember those?) and one Blu-Ray (what are those?) the box set includes seven LPs, and seven 7 inch singles, plus a booklet with the usual ephemera.
However, they have decided to quietly remove ‘One In A Million’.
It makes sense – here’s another verse from that same song.
Police and niggers, that’s right
Get outta my way
Don’t need to buy none of your
Gold chains today
Now don’t need no bracelets
Clamped in front of my back
Just need my ticket ’till then
Won’t you cut me some slack
While it’s fine to relegate this track to history in the PC-heavy 2018, it’s not as if this release doesn’t have other similarly-troubling lyrics.
I’ll let you dig up the worst of these from Appetite (pro tip: start at ‘It’s So Easy’), but while history was being whitewashed, it’s surprising whoever was in charge didn’t choose to remove ‘Used To Love Her’ from the same Lies record.
While the song is clearly a joke — a mock country murder ballad which includes the lines “I used to love her, but I had to kill her. I had to put her six feet under, and I can still hear her complain” and “I knew I’d miss her, so I had to keep her. She’s buried right in my backyard” — this song was actually implicated in two separate murders.
In 2002, a man named Justin Barber downloaded this song, and then murdered his girlfriend. Before handing his computer to the police, he deleted the song.
Ten years later a Costa Mesa man named Thomas Wilhelm was heard drunkenly singing this same song as he shot his girlfriend.
While it’s foolish and reactionary to ever blame art for the murderous impulses of damaged individuals, you’d think the song’s subject matter coupled with its murky history would be enough to make whoever was doing the editing on this reissue think twice.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.