Izzy Stradlin Takes the Lead on ‘Think About You': The Story Behind Every ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Song
Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on
Of all the songs on Appetite for Destruction, “Think About You” is either the most underrated, the album’s hidden gem or just a misplaced and mediocre break from greatness. It’s sandwiched between “My Michelle” and the album’s biggest hit, “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” an easy position to get passed over by listeners. Written almost entirely by Izzy Stradlin, the track was nearly completed by the time Guns N’ Roses first came together.
“I was never a big fan of [the song] because it was just too lightweight,” guitarist Slash told Guitar Edge in 2007. “But at the same time, it was one of those songs where Izzy had written the lyrics, so it was sort of like that Aerosmith song ‘Combination’ [on Rocks], which Joe Perry wrote. It was Izzy’s babbling ‘Combination’ song. I enjoyed recording it, though. I managed to get some ideas down and could walk away feeling satisfied with the way the song sounded.”
“It’s a fast love song about drugs, sex, Hollywood and money,” Stradlin said in a 1988 interview with Hit Parader. Rumors would abound over the years that the “drugs” part was about the first time he tried heroin, though he’s never officially verified this. But it wouldn’t be hard to consider “Think About You” as a straight-up love song either, especially with uncharacteristically sugary-sweet lyrics like, “Somethin’ changed in this heart of mine / You know that I’m so glad that you showed me / Honey, now you’re my best friend / I wanna stay together ’til the very end.”
Singer Axl Rose noted in a 1988 interview that “Think About You” “doesn’t have so much to do with me. Izzy wrote that one,” but he admitted that he tinkered a bit with the words. “There’s a few parts of the lyrics that I put in there, and maybe gave it a little more flow, and worded it my way since I was the one singing it. I think it’s kinda one of the ones that’s a bit hidden. That’s also with the way it was recorded.”
Musically, Rose explained that much of the song’s cues were taken from Hanoi Rocks, the Finnish glam-rock band that the singer was introduced to by Stradlin, who also took a rare lead guitar spot on the track. “The production on ‘Think About You’ and the way it’s done is kinda like a tribute to all those old Hanoi Rocks records,” Rose said. “It’s something that Izzy was really into, and then he got me into it. It’s kinda like a Hanoi Rocks song the way we looked at that.”
Slash echoed Rose’s thoughts years later when he spoke with Classic Rock magazine on Appetite for Destruction’s 20th anniversary, while at the same time repeating his dislike for the song. “I always had a hard time with ‘Think About You,’” he said. “It was one of the songs that Izzy wrote that was very indicative of the sort of Hanoi Rocks thing that was going on at the time. I never really got off on playing it all that much.”
“Think About You” is second only to “Anything Goes” as Appetite‘s least-performed song onstage. It was played a lot during the early days when the band was short on material and needed to play everything it had, but by the time the LP hit shelves in July 1987, it was dropped from the set.
The last time Guns broke out “Think About You” in front of an audience with any regularity was in 2006, when Stradlin appeared onstage in New York City in May with his former band. He later joined the European leg of the tour that summer and hooked up again for three shows in California in December. The song was performed at all of the gigs.
One person who championed “Think About You” from the beginning was Tom Zutaut, the Geffen Records executive who signed the band to the label in 1986. In a 2017 LA Weekly interview, he said it was his favorite track on Appetite for Destruction.
“I fought to have that one to be the second track on Side Two,” he said. “I also pushed to have the acoustic guitars mixed at the center, really loud, jangling in the foreground. To me, that was their greatest post punk-rock Rolling Stones moment.”
20 Most Historic Guns N’ Roses Concerts