“November Rain” is a song by the American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Written by the band’s lead vocalist Axl Rose, it was released as a single in 1992 from their third studio album, Use Your Illusion I (1991).
“November Rain” peaked at number three on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of that chart. It is also the third longest song to enter the Hot 100 chart (second longest at the time of its release). The song reached number one on the Polish LP3 Chart, number four on the UK Singles Chart, number five on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and the top 10 on several other music charts around the world.
Since its release, the song has sold over a million copies worldwide and has been described as “one of the ultimate hard-rock power ballads”.
Slash states in his autobiography that an 18-minute version of “November Rain” was recorded at a session with guitarist Manny Charlton (of rock band Nazareth) in 1986, before the recording sessions for Appetite for Destruction began.
According to a story Axl Rose told an audience during the 2006 leg of the Chinese Democracy Tour, none of the other band members had wanted to partake in the production of this song (or the other notable ballad “Estranged”). Slash and McKagan were particularly opposed to the drift to symphonic ballads, and felt their choice of more direct rock songs were being overlooked by Rose. However, Rose talked them into it over discussions at Can-Am Studios (where some of the album was recorded and mixed). Claims of such harsh musical differences were specifically disputed by Slash in his autobiography.
Slash has said that the solo he played in the album version of the song (it is unclear which) was the same solo he improvised upon hearing it for the first time.
At 8:57 minutes long, it is the second-longest song on the album, the longest being the 10:14 “Coma”. It is the third-longest song by Guns N’ Roses, behind the 9:24 “Estranged” from Use Your Illusion II. We call it ‘the Layla song’, joked Slash.
Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by Rose.:318 Most live performances during the Use Your Illusion tour lacked the orchestral backing of the song (the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards being the best-known exception).
It is the longest song ever to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
“November Rain” was voted number one on the Rock 1000 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1,000 rock songs by New Zealand radio listeners. It was voted number two on the 2007 version, beaten by “Back in Black” by AC/DC. The song topped the “album tracks” section of a 1993 readers’ poll in GN’R fanzine Controversy, beating “Coma”. The top ten was completed by “Estranged”, “Civil War”, “Paradise City”, “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, “Don’t Cry”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Patience” and “Mr. Brownstone”.
The song is written in key of B major and B minor.