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Alternative History

The True Meaning of the Lyrics to “Double Talkin’ Jive” by Guns N’ Roses

“Double Talkin’ Jive” was a rock diss track, Guns n’ Roses calling out one of their biggest hard-rock rivals, and a tune about a gruesome murder. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the “Use Your Illusions” albums and one of the last contributions from guitarist and songwriter Izzy Stradlin. But what’s the exact meaning of the song?

Today, I will examine the history and lyrics of “Double Talkin’ Jive” and try to explain its true meaning.

Guns n’ Roses’ Journey to Making “Double Talkin’ Jive”

Guns n’ Roses was something resembling an L.A. gang before they were a well-known band. Many rockers exaggerate their exploits, but the tales captured on “Appetite for Destruction,” according to witnesses, are truthful to a tee.

The album provided a sudden shot to the top. By the late 1980s, Guns n’ Roses had hit singles in the charts, videos played on MTV, and tours opening for bands like Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and Motley Crue. They were being welcomed into an exclusive club. But not all of the members of it were glad to have them.

Maybe it was just the speed at which everything had happened. Guns n’ Roses went from sharing a dilapidated flat and playing shows to tens of people on the Sunset Strip to selling to going number one on the Billboard charts in 1988. In fact, “Appetite for Destruction” would go on to ship 18 million copies in the U.S.A. alone.

Maybe it was their antics. The press loved bad examples. But the quintet had no problem playing up to their reputation. Their use of drink and narcotics was legendary. Axl Rose created controversy with his lyrics. Slash and Duff McKagan swore on national television. And each of the musicians always looked ready for a fight.

By the time they set out to release songs for their follow-up album, “Use Your Illusion”, several changes had occurred. The band was getting more ambitious. Band member tensions were high, especially between Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin. And, while the group perfected rock epics like “November Rain,” Stradlin insisted on recording his dark, Stonesy songs with as few bells and whistles as possible.

The Meaning of the Lyrics to “Double Talkin’ Jive”

Izzy Stradlin provided many of Guns n’ Roses’ best songs. He was involved in writing most of the material on “Appetite for Destruction.”

Stradlin is a truthful storyteller, evidenced by his excellent solo records, including “Izzy Stradlin and the Juju Hounds.” During Guns n’ Roses’ darkest days, he reflected this tension through his work.

The William Arnold Newton Murder

The lyrics of “Double Talkin’ Jive” weave together a few stories, some of the most aggressive on the whole “Use Your Illusion” song collection.

The first involves L.A. drug wars and murder. Guitarist Slash recalls in his 2007 memoir that during the recording of the album, a dead body was found in the alley behind the recording studio.

Slash writes: “It turned out that the cops found a dismembered arm and a head in the dumpster behind the studio. All I know is that we didn’t do it, but Izzy turned the event into a lyric on ‘Double Talkin’ Jive’.”

It is rumoured that the body parts belonged to adult film actor/director William Arnold Newton. His head and feet were discovered in a dumpster on Santa Monica Boulevard, according to Newton’s father. The murder was finally solved after 32 years.

Izzy Stradlin is rumoured to have once been a drug dealer in Los Angeles and would’ve been well aware of the kind of seedy underground tales that are restricted to the rest of the public.

Are the Lyrics About Motley Crue’s Vince Neil?

For years, there has been a second theory. Izzy pours anger into his words when he sings, “Double talkin’ jive, get the money, motherfucker/’Cause I got no more patience.” Could this have also been addressed to one of Guns n’ Roses’ rivals?

Early into the promotion of their debut album, Guns n’ Roses toured with Mötley Crüe. Several of the band’s musicians bonded mostly over… drugs and alcohol use. Slash recalls in his autobiography being shown around by Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. The members of the Crue also recall getting Slash drunk and taking salacious polaroids of him.

But two other members of the two bands would come to blows. In 1987, singer Vince Neil married model Sharise Ruddell. In 1988, while at the Cathouse nightclub, Izzy Stradlin made a pass at Neil’s wife. Mrs Neil slapped the guitarist.

But this didn’t end the conflict. In 1989, Axl Rose and Stradlin performed with Tom Petty at the MTV Video Music Awards. When walking off stage, Neil snuck up on Stradlin and punched him square in the face.

Neil writes in his memoir: “When Izzy walked offstage, looking like a cross between Eric Stoltz in Mask and Neil Young, I was waiting for him. You fucking hit my wife!’ ‘So fucking what?’ he spat. All my blood rushed into my fist, and I decked him. I decked him good, right in the face. He fell to the ground like a tipped cow.”

Axl Rose provoked Vince Neil into a public fistfight that never happened. But, if the rumour is to be believed, Stradlin had the last word with lyrics to “Double Talkin’ Jive.” Rose often introduced the song live as an ode to the band’s enemies.

The Legacy of “Double Talkin’ Jive”

“Double Talkin’ Jive” may have seemed originally like a minor entry in the Guns n’ Roses discography, eclipsed by songs like “Don’t Cry” or “Estranged.”

However, over the years, it has acquired quite a reputation. Many fans see it as one of the band’s last efforts at incorporating aggressive punk rock energy into their original material.

The fact that it is only one of a handful of songs sung by Izzy on the “Use Your Illusion” albums, alongside excellent tracks like “14 Years”, makes it all the more special. The fact that Slash plays a flamenco-styled solo at the end makes it something of a treasure.

The Guardian included “Double Talkin’ Jive” on their list of the band’s Top 20 songs. Guns n’ Roses often performed this live during the early 90s, often extending it to 10 minutes long. And their appreciation of the song meant that it was returned to set on their “Not In This Lifetime” reunion tour.

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
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