Re: Axl's public statement on Look at Your Game Girl (1994)
Q Magazine - March 1994
Bring Out The Manson
Statement from W. Axl Rose concerning the unlisted bonus track, Look At Your Game, Girl by Charles Manson, on Guns N' Roses' new album, The Spaghetti Incident?
It's come to my attention that some people have taken offence to a particular song, Look At Your Game, Girl, on our new album The Spaghetti Incident?. What it all boils down to is this: The Spaghetti Incident? is 13 historical and musical gems that may have been overlooked. For instance, New Rose was one of The Damned's main songs but for whatever reason a lot of the world didn't hear it.
In Indiana, I was ridiculed and physically attacked for my musical tastes, tastes that I never made any effort to hide. I thought it would be interesting for the so called mainstream and the people who were against this material when I was a teenager to actually hear these songs. Maybe they'll hear something they like, and more importantly, maybe they'll go and find the originals better, including Look At Your Game, Girl. The reason we didn't list that song on our album is we wanted to downplay it. We don't give any credit to Charles Manson on the album; it's like a hidden bonus truck.
It's my opinion that the media are enjoying making a big deal out of Guns N' Roses covering a song that Charles Manson recorded, but if another band had recorded that song, it probably wouldn't have been of interest. The media need their "bad guys" to guarantee some ratings, so they use Manson's name coupled with mine to promo their news programs.
However, when I do something positive, like contribute to charity, it's hard to get the news to pick up on those stories. The media is an interesting beast.
Why did I choose to cover that particular song?
Oddly enough, one of the things we do up at my house is have "Name That Artist" contests where we play obscure songs and everyone tries to name the artist. My brother Stuart found Look At Your Game, Girl at a large record chain and, needless to say, he won that round. Personally, I liked the lyrics and the melody of the song. Hearing it shocked me and I thought there might be other people who would like to hear it.
I like the words because, to me, it's about a woman who has thrown things away. She thinks she's gaining love but basically she's gaining sadness. It was very fitting for a personal situation I happened to be in. The song talks about how the girl is insane and playing a mad game. I felt that it was ironic that such a song was recorded by Charles Manson, someone who should know the inner intricacies of madness.
Manson is a dark part of American culture and history. He's the subject of fear and fascination through books, movies, and the interviews he's done. Most people hadn't heard anything Charles Manson recorded.
A lot of people can say I wear the "Charlie Don't Surf" T-shirt for shock value, but I've worn that shirt for the past year on tour, all over the world. Yes, I was trying to make a statement. I wore the T-shirt because a lot of people enjoy playing me as the bad guy and the crazy. Sorry, I'm not that guy. I'm nothing like him. That's what I'm saying. There's a real difference in morals, values and ethics between Manson and myself and that is "Thou shalt not kill," which I don't. I'm by no means a Manson expert or anything, but the things he's done are something I don't believe in. He's a sick individual. Look at Manson and then look at me. We're not the same. Plus, I like the black humor of the "Charlie Don't Surf" line for the movie Apocalypse Now.
I think people think I'm crazy because I believe in telling the truth. I'll admit sometimes I don't do a perfect job of it, but my efforts are true.
It is my understanding that the song was written by Dennis Wilson. To what extent Charles Manson is involved in the publishing, I'm not aware. However, I am donating all my personal profits from having that song on our album to a charity, an environmental group to help protect wildlife and our oceans. In our video for Estranged, which will be the last video for the Use Your Illusion albums, we used dolphins, and this is my way of giving something back to the dolphin, which are endangered and threatened with extinction.
Unfortunately I Don't Surf Either.
As a sidenote, those strange symbols in the cover art were discovered to match the code used by the Zodiac Killer.
It spells out FUCKEM ALL.