Nice bulge, Axl.
There are a few universal truths we can always count one. During insecure times, such fundamental principles provided stability and comfort. It's something we can always trust. For example: Anyone who drives an H2 is a huge asshole. Write it down. It is always true. Here's another one: Every spring, the Utah Jazz will kick Brian right in the balls. Again, it is undeniable. It's not a very pleasant fact but there is a strange reassurance that comes with its clockwork consistency. "The Jazz are self destructing? It must be April, again."
But the fundamental principle of truth that I want to focus on today is the following: If you're listening to a Guns N Roses song that begins with Axl whistling, it's gonna be a really really good song! Now clearly that statement is so obvious it's unnecessary. It's like saying, "Water is wet." or "Men don't want their daughters to be strippers."
"Patience", "Civil War", "You Ain't The First", "Breakdown". It can't be argued. Axl's expressive pucker providing the peaceful, innocent chimes countered by the rhythms of Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven (or Matt). It's a winning formula that never fails.
By the way, how big of a junkie did Steven Adler (GNR's original drummer) have to be to get kicked out of Guns N Roses? How bad of a drug fiend to you have to be for this guy to tell you, "Dude, you're out of control. You gotta get your life together." Anyone who has watched Sober House, can tell you that Steven one sad, derelict soul.
So, with that said I would like to now highlight five songs that feature really cool whistle solos.
I know that none of you really like it when I do these "5 song" lists. These posts are consistently the least read of any on my blog. But you know what? I don't care. You're probably saying to yourself, "Ah hell, not another self indulgant display by Brian where he prattles on and on about how his particular musical tastes are 'amazingly awesome'." Well that may be true. But before you browse through this entry without reading it or watching the clips, please do this one thing:
Watch the second clip on Paul Simon on Sesame Street. Do it. Seriously. See? Wasn't that worth the time? Now go back and start from the begining. You'll be a better person for it.
Breakdown - Guns N Roses, Use Your Illusion II 1991
Do you remember when Youtube didn't suck? It's way too hard to find a good clip nowadays. Please disregard the first 30 seconds of this clip. It's the only video of Breakdown I could find. Stick with it.
I need to make something very clear. GNR does not qualify as "Butt Rock". They are too damn good to dragged down by the comically exaggerated mediocrity that surrounded them. Yes, they came out of the LA club scene in the 80's and yes Axl had really big hair in the "Welcome to the Jungle" video. But don't for a second lump them together with Warrant, Twisted Sister or Poison. Guns N Roses could have been the next Rolling Stones. I say that without the least bit of sarcasm and as an avid Stones fan. GNR was legit. You don't have to incorporate any level of Pro Wrestling style kitch to enjoy them. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things about Axl you can snicker about. But unlike the rest of the Butt Rock ilk, they are not enjoyable simply because they are so bad. They had a gritty, ballsy, boozy realism that Bon Jovi never touched. If only Axl wasn't a bipolar asshole, they would have pumped out a dozen more albums by now. It really is a shame.
Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard - Paul Simon, Paul Simon 1972
In a radical shift in gears, I'm going from kissing Guns N Roses' butt to enjoying Paul Simon on Sesame Street. I love this clip. That little girl cracks me up. "You can dance with me!" Look at Paul's face. He's asking himself, "How can I get this adorable little girl to shut the hell up?". He can't come up with a good way to do it, so he just cuts her off.
I Love You Because - Elvis Aaron Presley, The Sun Sessions 1954
This was recorded at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee by Sam Phillips when Elvis was a truck driver back in 1954. Do you remember the scene in "Walk The Line" where Johnny Cash first records "Folsom Prison"? That was depicting Sam Phillips and Sun Records. If there was a single place where Rock and Roll was born, it was Sun Records.
Elvis starts the song off with nice song bird whistle which really sets the tone for the shamelessly mopey lyrics. "Most of all I love because you're you." Pretty damn cheesy. But Elvis's tender vocals and the weepy electric guitar totally sell it. I love this song.
Blackbird - The Beatles, White Album 1968
I'm kind of cheating on this one. There really isn't a whistle solo here, but I'm going to count the birds chirping. I don't know of a better musical example that illustrates that beauty is most often found in understated simplicity.
Patience - Guns N Roses, G 'N R Lies 1988
Here is the second installment of our GNR bookends. Damn it I wish I could have seen these guys live. I saw Velvet Revolver a few years ago and it was amazing. But with no Axl strutting around the stage in spandex briefs, giant boots and a Jesus shirt, it just wasn't the same. Who else could pull off an extended whistle solo to a sold out arena?
NOTE: You'll notice that Andrew Bird is not featured in any of these selections. "But he has a whistle solo in everyone of his songs. How can you leave him out?" Well to answer your question, you hipster jerk off, Andrew Bird is crap. Pure crap. I went to a free concert last summer that featured Josh Ritter (one of my very favorite contemporary artists) and Andrew Bird. The only thing more tedious than his looped violin chords and his ear bleeding (not in a good way) whistling was the pretentious douches all around me listening with their eyes closed. "He plays a violin. Therefor his music has depth." Nope. Pure crap.