“You Could Be Mine” is a song by American rock band Guns N’ Roses, featured on their 1991 fourth studio album Use Your Illusion II. It was released as the band’s seventh single, and the first from the Use Your Illusion albums, in June 1991. Backed with “Civil War” from Use Your Illusion II, the single reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100chart and number three on the UK Singles Chart.
The song was originally released as the theme song for director James Cameron’s 1991 film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Contrary to popular belief, “You Could Be Mine” was not originally going to be the official theme of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, the references to Guns N’ Roses that were made in the film (from John Connor’s friend’s L.A. Guns T-shirt to the T-800 taking out his shotgun from a box of roses, thus playing a pun on the band’s name) were so clear and obvious that it was a wise business decision to make when director James Cameron decided to recruit the band to perform a song. As it would turn out, “You Could Be Mine” was selected to be included in the film. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the band members over for dinner at his own home to negotiate the deal.
The lyric “With your bitch slap rappin’ and your cocaine tongue you get nothin’ done” from the chorus appeared on the inner sleeve of Guns N’ Roses’ debut album Appetite for Destruction, released in 1987 (the song had already been written by then). This “tradition” was followed by the line “Ain’t It Fun” on the Use Your Illusion albums released in 1991 – two years later GN’R cover of the song “Ain’t It Fun” appeared on “The Spaghetti Incident?” album. The end of first verse, “we’ve seen that movie too”, is a reference to Elton John’ song “I’ve Seen That Movie Too”, from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Slash states that the song’s writing began at the first preproduction session for Appetite for Destruction.
The song has a minute-long drum and guitar intro. It was played during the ending credits of Terminator 2 and was heard in the film itself in early scenes with John Connor. The song is also appeared in another part of the Terminator series, Terminator Salvation. However, the original script for Terminator 2 instead called for The Ramones song “I Wanna Be Sedated”, which years later would be featured in Terminator Genisys.
“You Could Be Mine” has little profanity, using only the word bitch, and only three times, in the chorus verse “With your bitch slap rapping and your cocaine tongue”/”You get nothin’ done”/”You could be mine”. The concert version has an added line “with your ass in the air”.
The song talks about band member Izzy Stradlin’s failed relationship with his girlfriend.
The official music video for the song was directed by Andy Morahan, Stan Winston and Jeffrey Abelson. A T-800 Terminator is assembled, given the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and dispatched to assassinate the band at one of their concerts. The video consists of clips from the movie, including its teaser trailer, intercut with footage of the band performing the song as the T-800 makes its way to the front of the crowd. After the song ends, it confronts the band as they leave the venue through a back door and analyzes each member individually; Izzy Stradlin is absent at this point, replaced by a man named Dizzy. The T-800 scans W. Axl Rose last and concludes that killing the band would be a “Waste of Ammo.” Lowering its shotgun, it gives Rose a brief smirk and walks away.
As the video features clips from the movie, it could not be put on the DVD Welcome to the Videos due to licensing issues. The video was also not included on any of the DVD releases of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, although it was included with a special double tape edition of the film, released on VHS in 1993.
Early live versions of “You Could Be Mine” featured Slash using a B.C. Rich Mockingbird (as in the video) instead of his usual Gibson Les Paul, due to his use of a tremolo during the solo. It was first played live at Rock in Rio II on January 20, 1991, and has been a staple ever since. The live version features amended lyrics to the line “an I leave you lyin’ on the bed ‘with your ass in the air'”.