Exploring the Multifaceted Insanity of ‘You’re Crazy': The Story Behind Every ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Song
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As the most popular band on the Sunset Strip in the mid-’80s, Guns N’ Roses were bound to draw their share of shady characters, hangers-on and other sorts of degenerates in addition to all the well-wishers, supporters and fans.
They’d also be flush with an abundance of women looking to take care of them in more ways than one. Not so surprisingly, some of them might not be in the most logical frame of mind. There were so many of them, in fact, that they were the inspiration behind a song: “You’re Crazy.”
Early versions of the song, like a few others on Appetite for Destruction, began as an acoustic number. Eventually, the stripped-down interpretation found a home on the acoustic side of the G N’ R Lies EP in 1988, but first it would be introduced in electric form, one that was, “sped up about 20 beats per minute from its original state,” according to guitarist Slash in his 2007 autobiography.
“It was originally a slow acoustic song that we wrote while sitting in the living room one night,” Slash told Guitar Edge. “Then Axl [Rose], Izzy [Stradlin], Duff [McKagan] and I went down to a rehearsal studio that we were working out of and, of course, turned everything up to 12. All of a sudden, it took on this real breakneck speed. Axl actually enjoyed making the adjustment.”
The newly created frenetic pace would carry over into live performances of the song, with Slash treating if differently than any other track from Appetite. “When I play that song, I don’t even know what I’m playing,” he told Hit Parader in 1988. “It’s just such a kick in the ass for me, so I run around. I try to concentrate on the music and keep kinda stationary, except on that song. I don’t play the same solo every night ’cause I’m not on the same wavelength as other nights.”
Lyrically, “You’re Crazy” isn’t the album’s most thought-provoking song. Quite the opposite, actually: Guy is looking for girl, one he can love, but encounters one who’s interested only in a “piece of the action.” It’s an age-old story, though typically the gender roles are reversed. Either way, it all ends with our protagonist telling the woman to look elsewhere, because, in his words, she’s “f—in’ crazy.”
Guns N’ Roses were far from saints. So the profanity isn’t all that shocking, but “You’re Crazy” wasn’t supposed to include any swearing … until one fateful night at the Los Angeles rock club Raji’s, where a female fan pushed Rose to a breaking point.
“The original way ‘You’re Crazy’ was written was without the curse words,” Rose told Rock Scene in 1988. “They didn’t come in until it came on full electric, in front of a crowd with some girl trying to hit me with a beer bottle, and I started directing the words directly at her. That’s where the curses happened. I stamped her head with the bottom of my mic stand, and she kept coming at me! I didn’t even know her — nobody in the band knew her. She hit Duff with a beer bottle.
“It was really weird, ‘cause her boyfriend was shaking my hand backstage going, ‘Man, you’re the greatest,’ and I was trying to be nice, but I could never shake this guy,” Rose recalled. “He was there when I first came in, he was there at the side of the stage, but he must not have been looking when I hit his girlfriend with the mic stand. All of a sudden he goes, ‘Wait, you hit my girlfriend? I’m gonna kill you!’ And that was it; I started tearing him to shreds. It was a huge mess.”
But when it came to giving the song a title for Appetite for Destruction, the band nixed the profanity. “It’s called ‘You’re Crazy’ ’cause I didn’t want some a–hole picking it up and they go, ‘They put f— on here,’ and then they won’t even give it a chance.” Rose told Hit Parader in 1988.
“You’re Crazy” has gotten fairly regular placement in set lists over the years, though it hasn’t shown up at any Not in This Lifetime … dates. When it is performed, there’s no telling what sort of arrangement the song will receive. It’s been done as an acoustic song like on Lies, fast as it on Appetite and as a combination with the slower part giving way to more speed and power as it progresses. When it was played on the first leg of the Use Your Illusion Tour in 1991, Sebastian Bach, whose band Skid Row opened the shows, would sing a duet with Rose.
One member who was around at the time prefers it the way it was originally composed. Drummer Steven Adler wrote about the song in his 2010 memoir, My Appetite for Destruction, recalling a time in spring 1988 when Guns N’ Roses performed the song on the Fox Late Night Show.
“We played ‘Crazy’ the way it was always meant to be played: slower, sleazy, more bluesy, with much more feeling, and not the frantic sped-up version on Appetite,” he noted. “Even though Axl had to censor himself for TV and leave out all the [expletives], he did a masterful job, and it’s definitely my favorite rendition.”
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