Certain Songs #573: Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged”

Guns Estranged Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

Believe it or not, I didn’t do every song I truly love from Use Your Illusion II.

That means I didn’t write about the perfect classic rockness of “Yesterdays,” or their over-the-top version of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” which featured a gospel choir singing the title over a stop time just because they could, or even “Locomotive (Complicity)” where the chorus has some of the best John Bonham drumming not done John Bonham.

But this gorgeous thing, I couldn’t resist.

With Axl’s whispered “alone” at the beginning as a signpost, Slash making his guitar cry to the heavens throughout, the multi-faceted “Estranged” kills even “November Rain” as an epic power ballad.

I fucking love Axl’s vocals on “Estranged,” especially on the I-guess-it’s-a-first chorus:

So nobody ever told you baby
How it was gonna be-eeeee
So what’ll happen to you baby
Guess we’ll have to wait and see-eee

Which is followed by a “ONE, TWO” and a glorious jumble of Matt Sorum’s drums and Slash’s keening guitar before finally getting into the song proper.

But that’s really a lie: there really isn’t a song proper in “Estranged,” as it’s as restless as its songwriter, one W. Axl Rose. So “Estranged” doesn’t really build properly from slow to fast or quiet to loud as it meanders through “all the changing seasons” of Axl’s psyche.

Whether or not that’s a good thing is, of course, entirely up to you. As always, best to have Slash’s guitar light the way.

There is another irony in “Estranged.” It’s a break-up song, natch, but of course the real-life break-of of Axl and Stephanie Seymour meant that she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) appear in the video, which I guess was supposed to be a sequel to “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.”

In any event, this was all over two years after the Illusion twins came out and nobody gave a shit. Not only had The Spaghetti Incident?!? already come out, pretty much all of their singles after “November Rain” had completely stiffed, and MTV had started moving away from videos once and for all.

So while the “Don’t Cry” & “November Rain” videos felt like events, the “Estranged” video felt like a bad hangover from a party you didn’t even want to go to in the first place.

Official Video for “Estranged”

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