The lyrics and the video are based on a short story by Del James called Without You. The story is part of a collection called The Language Of Fear, which was brought back to market in 2008 after being out of print. The new version of the book contains an intro by Axl Rose, who wrote: "Del James has a personal knowledge of most of the situations he writes about, and has a love of the gutter from having been there." James contributed lyrics to two Guns N' Roses songs: "The Garden" and "Yesterdays," and has directed several music videos.
Written by Axl Rose, the original version of this song was 25-minutes long, and was edited down to 8:59. It is the longest ever Top 10 hit and contains the longest guitar solo in a Top 10 single. Slash actually plays two guitar solos in the song. Rose put the song's lengthy gestation period down to opposition from Slash and Duff McKagan.
The video was directed by Andy Morahan, who had done the popular George Michael videos for "Father Figure" and "Faith," and worked with GnR on "Don't Cry" and "You Could Be Mine." A huge production, the "November Rain" video cost over $1.5 million to make, but reaped rewards for the band, as it got a lot of play on MTV. It stars actress and model Stephanie Seymour, Axl Rose's girlfriend at the time. In the video, she and Axl get married with Slash serving as best man and the rest of the band in the front row. After the wedding, it starts raining and the next scene is Stephanie's funeral in the same church.
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