“Paradise City” is a song by the American rock band Guns N’ Roses, featured on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987). It was released as a single in November 1988. It is also the only song on the album to feature a synthesizer. It is most known for its iconic lyrics, “Take me down to the Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.” It is also frequently played at sports stadiums during games along with “Welcome to the Jungle”, also from Appetite for Destruction. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, the band’s third single to reach the Top 10 in the U.S, and number six on the UK Singles Chart.
Guns N’ Roses’ lead guitarist, Slash, states that the song was written in the back of a rental van as they were on their way back from playing a gig in San Francisco with the band Rock N Riders. He says that the band was in the back of the van, drinking and playing acoustic guitars when he came up with the intro. Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin started playing along. Slash started humming a melody when Axl Rose sang, “Take me down to the Paradise City.” Slash chimed in with “Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.” Rose sang the first line again, where Slash shouted out “Where the girls are fat and they’ve got big titties.” Rose finished with “Take … me … home!” Slash preferred his second line but the rest of the band felt differently. He was outvoted and they used the first line. The band then expanded upon the rest of the lyrics in rounds. Finally, Slash wrapped up by coming up with the heavy riff that drives the song.
During a 1988 interview, Rose told “Hit Parader” magazine that “the verses are more about being in the jungle; the chorus is like being back in the Midwest or somewhere.”
This song was often used as the band’s show-closing song during the Appetite for Destruction Tour, Use Your Illusion Tour and Chinese Democracy Tour.
It was also ranked #21 on VH1’s 40 Greatest Metal Songs of All Time, #3 in “Total Guitar” magazine’s list of the 100 greatest solos of all time, and has won various similar awards over the years. It ranked #453 on Rolling Stones’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Slash has stated that “Paradise City” is his favorite Guns N’ Roses song.
In the last two minutes of the song, it changes to double-time and the chorus is repeated several times while Slash plays a guitar solo in the background.
Guitarist Andy McCoy has said that the song is copied from several riffs written by his band, Hanoi Rocks. He has said that the chorus is just a slower version of the riff in “Lost in the City”. Axl Rose has often cited Hanoi Rocks as Guns N’ Roses’ biggest influence. Hanoi Rocks’ original rhythm guitarist Nasty Suicide can also be seen in the music video for “Paradise City.” The style of the main riff of “Paradise City” (involving an ascending chromatic riff) has also been used by many former Guns N’ Roses members in new projects. This can be seen in Izzy Stradlin’s “Bomb” and Velvet Revolver’s “Do It for the Kids”. According to Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns and former member of Guns N’ Roses, the riff was influenced by the Black Sabbath song “Zero the Hero” from the Born Again album.
During live Guns N’ Roses shows, “Paradise City” is usually performed last, as an encore. This has been a tradition since at least 1988, up to their latest tour. They also performed the song live at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992 (this time it was the first song of their short set).