Civil War (7:41)

Cover of Use Your Illusion II

From Use Your Illusion II and 27 other releases

“Civil War” is a song by the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, which originally appeared on the 1990 album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal, a fund raising compilation for Romanian orphans. It is a protest song about war, that amongst other things says that a civil war only “feeds the rich while it buries the poor.” Notably, the United States was involved in no major military operations at the time of its recording, so it is mostly thought of as a tribute of sorts to 1960s anti-Vietnam War protest songs. It was written by Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan.

Slash states that the song was an instrumental he had written right before the band left for the Japanese leg of its Appetite for Destruction world tour. Axl wrote lyrics and it was worked into a proper song at a sound check in Melbourne, Australia.

Guns N’ Roses performed the song at Farm Aid IV on April 7, 1990. This performance was televised.

It is the first track on Use Your Illusion II, appears on the compilation Use Your Illusion, and on Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits.

The song also mentions John F. Kennedy’s assassination with the lyrics: “and in my first memories they shot Kennedy,” as well as the battle for civil rights and the Vietnam War.

On September 27, 1993, Duff McKagan explains where the song came from in an interview on Rockline: “Basically it was a riff that we would do at sound-checks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And… I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that’s when: “Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: ‘Peace could last forever’?. It’s just true-life experiences, really.”


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