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.”


Everyone’s tags

More tags

Play with Spotify

Albums featuring this track (28)

Similar Tracks

  Track   Duration Listeners
Guns N' Roses - Yesterdays 3:14 386,787
Guns N' Roses - You Could Be Mine 5:43 445,915
Skid Row - 18 and Life 3:49 236,069
Aerosmith - Cryin' 5:09 488,322
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long 3:30 666,036
AC/DC - Highway to Hell 3:28 810,829

Listening Trend

451,445listeners all time
2,540,907scrobbles all time
Recent listeners trend:

Explore more

Listen to, buy or share


Send Ringtones to Cell

{What we've got here is failure to communicate
Some men, you just can't reach
So, you get what we had here last week
Which is the way he wants it, well, he gets it

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


Leave a comment. Log in to or sign up.
  • davidbowiegirl

    Great song

    3 May 12:59pm Reply
  • davidnordin7

    Powerful. Can anyone recommend similar songs, especially with related guitar-reverb-outro-awesomeness?

    6 Apr 8:29pm Reply
  • scty2hotti

    great track

    4 Apr 10:46pm Reply
  • elciscokid

    "Did you wear a black arm band when they shot the man who said peace could last forever?" That line gets me every time.

    26 Mar 4:43am Reply

    most underrated GNR song, a true rock masterpiece, both music and lyrics :) and the most serious GNR song :)

    14 Mar 4:16pm Reply
  • Vincent____Vega


    8 Mar 9:07am Reply
  • nick_honest

    my favourite GNR song! a masterpiece

    15 Feb 11:58pm Reply
  • TehGrandMystery

    Their absolute best song.

    19 Jan 5:27pm Reply
  • DBAJerry

    This song was playing when my ex and I got into our last argument. How ironic that it starts with "what we have here is a failure to communicate"

    30 Dec 2013 Reply
  • bloody72

    pozdrowienia z Gierałtowic

    2 Nov 2013 Reply
  • vinman07

    "What we got here is failure to communicate"

    6 Aug 2013 Reply
  • agnosis1975

    the sound of an empty fifth of jack hitting a bucket

    4 Jul 2013 Reply
  • agnosis1975

    @ AndreDias164 love that intro - Luke IS Our Baby - EAT NINETY EGGS AND FUCK THE MAN

    23 Jun 2013 Reply
  • AndreDias164

    "What we've got here is failure to communicate" great quote from the movie "Cool Hand Luke"

    11 Jun 2013 Reply
  • Blackforestmnrr

    cool hand luke

    20 Mar 2013 Reply
  • TylerWard-

    I've loved the ending riff to this song ever since I was in elementary school. So good.

    10 Mar 2013 Reply
  • tripodthunder


    9 Feb 2013 Reply
  • teeftwo

    Saw them live at Wembley for the Use your Illusion tour. Last time they were any good (although the cracks were showing). All downhill after these albums. Decent track though. Shame Axl Rose is such a complete arse these days.

    31 Jan 2013 Reply
  • MIKEH3875

    I was thirteen when their debut appetite exploded in '88 and around sixteen when this first came out back in '91 and i've never ever seen a band as huge as they were during their peak '88 through '93.Bought both illusion albums at midnight when they were first released to the public and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in at midnight to buy the brand new illusion I&II.

    28 Jan 2013 Reply
  • Metal-Kathy86


    13 Jan 2013 Reply
  • All 515 shouts

Top Listeners