Fresh as the Bright Blue Sky

‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ was recorded on the Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction.  The song became GNR’s most successful single, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and went to #6 in the UK and it won Best Single, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock at the 1989 American Music Awards.  The guitar solo was ranked as the 37th greatest solo of all-time by Guitar World, and this became the first 80s music video to hit 1 billion plays on Youtube.  This song was amazingly recorded in one take.  The lyrics were written by frontman Axl Rose as a dedication to his then-girlfriend Erin Everly, the daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers.  They dated for four years, then they got married, but it ended nine months later, the marriage was annulled, with Everly claiming abuse.  ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ started out as a riff with Slash fucking around on his guitar and Axl said, “Hold the fucking phones!  That’s amazing!”  Slash was just playing simple warm-up notes, so he disagreed, but once Axl heard Slash noodling, he knew that he had found something special.  Rose wrote most of the lyrics and vocal melodies and Slash wrote most of the instrumental.

Guns N’ Roses consisted of singer Axl Rose, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler and they were interested in rock and roll that was much more raw, angry and honest than what the pop-metal bands were playing.  They wanted to be a hard rock band with a lot of attitude, so their lives revolved around drink, hard drugs and bedding as many groupies as possible.  This song came at a time when hard rock had gone soft, due mostly to glam bands spending more time on their makeup than their music.  Izzy hit a rhythm, and this poem that Axl had written a while back, popped into his head and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ ended up being the savior of rock ‘n roll while Guns N’ Roses hit the big time. In music, a breakdown is part of a song in which various instruments have solo parts (breaks).  The breakdown section near the end of the song was suggested by producer Spencer Proffer, who was working with the band on its demos.  According to Slash, nobody was sure how that breakdown would work.

To get the right sound for this song, Axl went back to an unlikely source, the unfashionable ‘70s longhairs Lynyrd Skynyrd, the hard-drinking Southern redneck rockers that were decimated by a plane crash in 1977 that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant and two other band members.  When Axl finished writing the song and the band worked on it, but none of them were excited about the outcome.  To most of the members of the band, this song was just a joke, and they thought it would tank as soon as it was released, considering it to be a throwaway.

Axl Rose had a rough childhood, the existence of his birth father was hidden from him until late in his childhood, and when Rose was 2 years old, his parents split, which, according to Rose, led to him being kidnapped by his birth father.  In this song Axl writes a lot of ambiguous lyrics and he seems to be second guessing himself, although he must have been genuinely in love with this girl.  His old childhood memories take over when he sees her smile and make him think of a time, “Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky.”  He is not afraid to show his sensitive side, admitting that he might break down and cry.  Her eyes are like the bluest skies and he would never want to see any suffering in them and her hair makes him feel warm and safe, like he felt when he was in his hiding spot when he was a child, e prayed for the thunder and rain to stop.  The rest of the song is rather repetitive, with him being unsure and wondering, “where do we go now?”

She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stare too long, I’d probably break down and cry

Whoa, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I’d hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by

Whoa, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Whoa whoa, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine

Whoa, yeah
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Whoa, oh, whoa, oh
Sweet love of mine
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Ooh, yeah
Ooh, sweet love of mine

Where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
Ooh, oh, where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Oh, where do we go now?
Where do we go? (Sweet child)
Where do we go now?
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay
Where do we go now?
Ah, ah

Where do we go?
Oh, where do we go now?
Oh, where do we go?
Oh, where do we go now?
Where do we go?
Oh, where do we go now?
Now, now, now, now, now, now, now
Sweet child
Sweet child of mine

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Colors.

23 thoughts on “Fresh as the Bright Blue Sky

  1. When “Welcome to the Jungle” came out we were hooked. That video was as captivating as it was shocking. Then through different evolutions and stories, we’re no longer huge GNR fans. Trying to separate the man from his music but if even 1/2 of what they claim about Axl are true, then that’s a hard if not impossible thing to do. Still when “Sweet Child O Mine” comes I know every word and can’t help but sing along. Great pick Jim! \m/

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I started to write this one up but I changed it to Welcome to the Jungle at the last moment. They helped kill hair metal in the 80s…then Nirvana killed it completely off.

    Liked by 2 people

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