Duff McKagan Hopes People Will Think Again About ’80s Lyrics
He talked about songs like “One in a Million” and “It’s So Easy” in the context of his new solo album, Tenderness, which addresses a number of modern social issues, including sexual predators in the song “Last September.”
“I'm sure stuff was going on, Harvey Weinstein stuff and all that, but we hated that,” McKagan said of the ’80s in a new interview with Yahoo! “If we saw that stuff going on around us, we didn't allow it to happen around us. We were still good dudes. None of our friends said, ‘Grab her by the pussy.’ You know what I mean? Who would say something like that? And I don't mean to be political against the dude who said that; it's just an idiotic, stupid thing to say, for any man. And that's the way I've always thought. So, '80s or now – I could've written ‘Last September’ in the '80s.”
Turning to “One in a Million,” which drew accusations of racism and homophobia on its release in 1988, McKagan said he regretted that the backlash led to Guns N’ Roses’ removal from a benefit concert lineup. He argued that, like other controversial lyrics, they were written from the perspective of an unpleasant character, rather than representing the views of anyone in the band.
“I remember getting on a plane flying back to Seattle, and an African American flight attendant came up and sat down next to me and said, ‘Do you really hate black people?’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, fuck.’ Part of my family is African American. Slash is half [black]. So, people didn't put that together. Hopefully now, later, people can examine that song. And I think it's brilliant and super-brave of Axl to step out and do that.”
McKagan also recounted an experience connected with “It’s So Easy." “I went on BBC's Hard Talk for my first book," he said. "It was the woman on there, and she was very nice to me in the green room: ‘Oh, excuse me, what a great book, and you've got a lovely family, and this is so nice.’ And the light goes on the camera, and she goes, ‘So, “Turn around, bitch, I've got a use for you.” You wrote that lyric. How do you explain that to your daughters?’ So, I'm glad we're talking about this in a different way [today].”
Still, he added that he thinks "PC is an overused word itself. Just come correct at all times. I don't remember anybody I hung out with using the N-word, or using the C-word. Just come correct at all times, then you don't gotta worry about, ‘Oh, shit, was I politically correct here?’
"I gotta be a man for my daughters and for my wife, and I don't mean a macho man — a man of thought, and a man of understanding, and a man of action. And I hope to take some action with this record, and it's positive, healing action for what's transpired, especially in the last few years here in America.”