Back in the glory days of ’80s hair metal, the genre had a sensitivity problem. Granted, the sexism that marked the era was one of it’s highlights, and women being used as sex objects was as popular backstage as it was in it’s music videos. And let’s not forget that it was music made by, and at least largely for, white males. And the ‘it was different then’ excuse might not carry that much water thirty years later, Guns N’ Roses have addressed part of the issue by not addressing it, removing the acoustic track “One In A Million” from the re-release of Appetite For Destruction.
Originally on their 1988 EP GN’R Lies, “One in a Million” brought up plenty of controversy when it was released. Written from the point of view of a racist and xenoophobic person, Rose apparently was annoyed by African Americans, an attempted rape by a man and the fact that he was annoyed by immigrants working at convenience stores and gas stations, or so he said in a 1989 Rolling Stone interview. That doesn’t really make up for lines like this:
Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini-Iran
Or spread some fucking disease
And they talk so many goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me
Yeah, that’s not very woke, even for 1988. And while it makes sense that they might want to remove it from the re-pressing since times have changed and they’ve already apologized to a degree for it, anyone laying out a grand for the box set might want that song on there as a historical document. It might have made more sense for the band to release a statement condemning the song to explain why it’s been pulled, or even release a statement not standing behind the song, but including it on the album. Rose doesn’t really apologize in the interview, but the song’s obviously been pulled for a reason. So far, they haven’t said anything, and that’s not really a great look for them now.
Here’s the song: