THE ORIGINAL: Guns N’ Roses (1988)

Oh, you know that opening guitar riff and all that follows better than you know your own face, so I’m not going to break it down for you.  If you were just born a minute ago, I’m gonna guess it was playing in the hospital. If you’re an alien with no ability to pick up radio signals, then Google it.

This song was played so much, even Slash once said that it made him sick. This was the band’s only number one single here in the states.

It’s a midtempo rocker with a solo by Slash, and it’s a smidge too long (the album version is 5:56 and the radio edit is 4:59). It was inspired by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and it’s a love song for Erin Everly, written by Axl.

THE COVER: Sheryl Crow (1999)

This is pretty lame. I can’t believe Rick Rubin produced it.

It follows the original arrangement, but replaces the opening riff with some acoustic strumming that doesn’t sound like the original at all. Sheryl does her usual 70s California country sunshine treatment, with lots of tremolo, strings, a fiddle and an accordion, and her vocals are really bad, especially the multi-tracked background vocals.

The Slash guitar solo? It’s now a fiddle and a B3, which is blasphemy! The “where do we go now” breakdown at the end? She sings it an octave too high and she sounds strained. Oh, and she changes the “she” to “he” to make it “gender appropriate,” because it was the 90s.


Despite being happy to never hear the original again for the rest of my life, I’ll listen to it a zillion times before I listen to the cover. G’N’R wins, hands down.


About Author

Crystal C Durant

Crystal is today's black Renaissance woman. She lives in Harlem, is always up for a new experience, is a magnet for all kinds of crazy, and smells like fresh flowers.


  1. G. Sequoia Armstrong on

    While I have a different opinion about hearing the original I cannot agree more about the cover. I heard it at the supermarket one day and was annoyed the rest of the day. I have the same fascination with covers and while I can respect a well-executed copy a cover doesn’t have a soul unless the artist puts their stamp on it. Too bad Sheryl Crows stamp is a stamp of blandness.

    BTW – Might I make a suggestion? The cover that I’ve currently been obsessed with is The Slits rendition of I Heard it Through The Grapevine.

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