Guns N’ Roses’ Forgotten Gem: A Closer Look at “Oh My God”
In 1999, Guns N’ Roses made their first recorded release in nearly five years with “Oh My God.” “It was a weird time for hard rock music, and certainly very odd for Guns N Roses. Nonetheless, it was the band’s first new piece of music released after five years of silence. Little did we know back then that it would take another nine years for Guns N Roses to release something new. For some, this song was the most bizarre in GnR’s discography, while for others, it was a cool little hidden gem.
Here are ten known or lesser-known facts and things you didn’t know about “Oh My God.”
1.The song was released as part of the End of Days film soundtrack, but despite being sent to radio stations as a promotional tool, it was never released as a standalone single for public retail. The song is firstly premiered on MTV WMA in September of 1999.
2.The song was primarily written by Paul Tobias in 1997, with Dizzy Reed contributing the hook of the chorus. Axl Rose wrote the lyrics, and Gary Sunshine, Dave Navarro, and Paul Tobias all played on the song. Robin Finck’s part was written by Tobias and manipulated by producer Sean Beaven. Rose claimed that Finck was not involved in the writing of the final recording, though he participated in the arrangement.
3.Upon its release, “Oh My God” had a mixed reception. It won a 1999 Metal Edge Readers’ Choice Award for Soundtrack Song of the Year, but it only had a limited chart run of five weeks and peaked at #26 on the US Mainstream Rock Charts.
4.”Oh My God” was played live four times on the first leg of the Chinese Democracy Tour in early and late 2001. It has remained absent since then, but the band has played it during sound checks as recently as 2011. In a 2003 interview, rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus mentioned he was planning on using his Anderson Baritom guitar on a future tour while performing the song.
5.In 2008, Rose claimed that the song was an unfinished demo that was rushed to be released for inclusion with the End of Days film soundtrack. He said that there was a remix with lots of new vocals and a wilder guitar intro, but it wasn’t taken all that seriously. In late 2013, a small clip with new guitars added by then-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal leaked online.
6.The soundtrack for the movie “End Of Days” featured a strong lineup of rock and nu-metal bands, including Korn, Powerman 5000, Limp Bizkit, Creed, Rob Zombie, and Everlast. It was released on November 2nd, 1999, and peaked at number 20 in the USA and 16 in Canada.
7.Axl Rose has said that former Guns N’ Roses band members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum did not initially recognize the potential of this song, as they were still in the band until 1997. Former Guns N’ Roses member Slash stated that upon hearing the song, he didn’t have any real opinion about it and that it convinced him that his departure had been a wise decision and that he and Axl were no longer on the same wavelength musically.
8.It was Dave Navarro (Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers) who recorded the solo for this track. According to him, there wasn’t much of a story behind it. They called him up, and he went to a studio to work on an already existing track. He recorded the solo without much direction, and that was it.
9.”Oh My God” deals with the societal repression of deep and often agonizing emotions, with the chorus contemplating several abstract perspectives drawing from personal expression as well as from the film and its metaphors. The song touches on the fight of good vs. evil, positive vs. negative, and the personal and universal struggle to attain, maintain, and responsibly manage freewill.
10.Speaking of the movie itself, although End Of Days had a big budget, it was not well received among fans. According to IMDb, the movie currently has a rating of 5.8. It was the second movie for which Guns N Roses contributed a soundtrack song, following their contribution to the 1991 film Terminator 2.
This is a song that really gives fans of the band mixed feelings and opinions. It seems like the more casual fans do not like this song, while some hardcore fans appreciate it from the standpoint of its rarity. The song came out during a very crazy and weird time, not just for the band but for this kind of music in general. Speaking of the musical aspect of the song, we can say for sure that this song is not one of the best ones from the band’s catalogue, but it has a certain value. This song showed us the musical direction that the band intended to take back then in the late ’90s and early 2000s. This direction was, more or less, confirmed with the Chinese Democracy album nine years later. Anyway, this song was always considered as some kind of unusual hidden gem, and it would be nice to see if Axl Rose intends to re-release “Oh My God” officially on some future compilations.
It’s actually an important song that fills that gigantic gap between “The Spaghetti Incident?” (or “Sympathy for the Devil”) and “Chinese Democracy.” Without this song, we wouldn’t have had anything new to talk about for all those years. In the end, if the movie was any better and achieved more success, this song would have been much bigger and much more appreciated in GnR’s catalog. Dave Navarro would, in that case, maybe even have stayed in the band for a while… who knows…