Let's face it, Izzy Stradlin doesn't get enough credit for his work in Guns N' Roses. Much of the creative recognition for the band’s output usually centers on Axl Rose and Slash. But as this list of the Top 10 Izzy Stradlin Guns N' Roses Songs demonstrates, ignoring the musicianship and songwriting contributions of their former rhythm guitar player would be a big mistake.
'Sweet Child O' Mine'From: 'Appetite For Destruction' (1987)
No list of Guns N’ Roses greatest songs, no matter the constraint, would be complete without the inclusion of their most enduring hit. As this track was more of an "all hands on deck affair," with Izzy reportedly mostly providing the chords, we’ll leave this one right here. “Where do we go now?”
'Double Talkin' Jive'From: 'Use Your Illusion I' (1991)
Our next selection, buried in the middle of Use Your Illusion I, features a rare lead vocal turn by Stradlin. This in-your-face number retains more of the band's venomous Appetite-era attitude than many of the other songs on this album. We would hate to be whoever he's talking about with lyrics like, “Double talking jive / Get the money motherf–er / 'Cause I got no more patience.”
'You Ain't the First'From: 'Use Your Illusion I' (1991)
Quite possibly the least Guns N’ Roses-sounding song the band ever produced, this cut plays more like a boozy acoustic blues than the hard rock or heavy ballads the band were known for. Izzy and lead singer Axl Rose share double vocal duties, while Slash provides the mood-setting slide guitar work. It certainly works as an interesting turn and shows much range Stradlin brought to the band.
'Dust 'N' Bones'From: 'Use Your Illusion I' (1991)
This classic and yet under-appreciated track features Izzy on lead vocal, with Axl providing high harmonies in the background. It’d be easy to call this song formulaic if it didn’t actually kick so much ass. From the signature Slash solo to the weird vocal nuances there’s something so perfectly Guns N’ Roses about this song that we wish we could hear it on the radio more often.
'Out Ta Get Me'From: 'Appetite For Destruction' (1987)
As with many songs on the band’s landmark debut, this song was reportedly written rather quickly, with credit split between Stradlin and Rose. The guitarist later spoke of the sometimes-frustrating process of writing music with the headstrong lead singer. "He was a real nasty critic you know, so sometimes it was a lot of nitpicking in the music, trying to get stuff finished, but uh, I guess in the end it came out okay." Sure did!
'Don't Cry'From: 'Use Your Illusion I' (1991)
Rejection is not a feeling many rock stars are used to experiencing, which is what makes this song especially notable. Co-written by Rose and Stradlin, the song is about a girl that at one time or another kicked both men to the curb. Two-fer! As Rose subsequently remembered, the title came from something the woman in question told the singer after turning down his advances.
'Pretty Tied Up'From: 'Use Your Illusion II' (1991)
This exotic-sounding Guns N’ Roses composition was another track credited to Stradlin alone. Like other items on our list of Top 10 Izzy Stradlin Guns N’ Roses Songs, "Pretty Tied Up" demonstrates the sonic diversity that he brought into the group. In his autobiography, Slash recalled just how Stradlin managed to get the far-out sound that opens the song. "I remember that Izzy had taken a cymbal and a broomstick and some strings and had made a sitar out of it. Needless to say, Izzy was pretty fucking high.”
'14 Years'From: 'Use Your Illusion I' (1991)
Released in 1991 as the second song on Use Your Illusion II, the track is accepted to be about the relationship between Stradlin and Rose, who had known each other for – wait for it – 14 years by that point. While one might think that from the outset that it would be a celebration of friendship, the song seems to reveal a deeper, more conflicted history between the two men. As they share the chorus both men sing, “But it's been 14 years of silence / It's been 14 years of pain / It's been 14 years that are gone forever / And I'll never have again.” Look for Izzy and Axl's line of wedding anniversary cards at your local Hallmark store soon!
'Mr. Brownstone'From: 'Appetite For Destruction' (1987)
This song reportedly began as a collaboration between Izzy and Slash, while chilling at a former’s girlfriend’s house. The two started ironically riffing on their mutual disdain for heroin and addicts in general. “We were sitting there complaining, as junkies do, about our dealers," Slash wrote in his autobiography. "It basically described a day in the life for us at the time. Izzy had a cool idea, he came up with the riff, and we started improvising the lyrics.” The most revealing line of the song comes in during the bridge: "I used to do a little, but a little wouldn't do / So the little got more and more / I just keep trying to get a little better / Said a little better than before."
'Patience'From: 'G N' R Lies' (1988)
It took a while to get to the top item on our list of Top 10 Izzy Stradlin Guns N’ Roses Songs, but your patience is finally rewarded. Izzy’s magnum opus was released as the only single from the stopgap EP G N’ R Lies. Credited to Stradlin alone, this song about failed relationships was the band’s third biggest single, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The '80s were an era flooded with power ballads, but "Patience" endures to this day because of its eclectic mixture of tender lyrics, countrified acoustic guitars and intricate song-structure. Oh and of course, who could deny the power of that instantly recognizable whistle intro?