The Real Meaning Behind The “Cake” Scene In ‘November Rain’
via Guns N' Roses / Youtube
Guns N’ Roses are one of the legendary bands that has a lot of epic music videos in the rock history. One of them is the music video for their hit song “November Rain,” which aside from the story, has become famous for its questionable “cake scene.”
The story was based on Del James’ short story “Without You,” which is part of his book The Language of Fear. James is a longtime friend of Axl Rose, and is now actually GN’R’s road manager.
James wrote the story inspired by Rose’s relationship with model Erin Everly. Axl dated Erin for several years in the late 1980s and married in 1990. Eventually, they got divorced and Axl started dating model Stephanie Seymour, who was cast as the leading lady in November Rain’s music video.
On the video, Seymour marries Axl and dies in the end. But during the wedding reception scene, when it started raining, someone just randomly jumped through the wedding cake.
There are speculations that the man who ruined the cake was former MTV personality Riki Rachtman who was good friends with the band and actually did make an appearance in the video. But Rachtman denied it and told Vice:
“We had been up all night shooting at the Rainbow. And then we went straight to the wedding reception scene the next morning. Axl wanted it to feel like a real wedding, so all his friends were there. It’s why I was there. When I see the video now, it’s a lot of faces from the old scene. But the biggest misconception of the whole video is that I was the guy getting thrown through the cake. (Tramadol) That wasn’t me. Everybody seems to think it was, but it wasn’t.”
Daniel Pearl, a cinematographer who worked with the band on the trilogy of videos, admitted that he actually didn’t like the scene. He said:
“I know we shot it very quickly. I have to say that your choice of verb, that we got the [actor] ‘jumping’ through the cake — it is jumping. It’s not like he just falls through it or anything. When we shot it, I went, ‘Well, that’s no good, man.’ It looks like the guy jumps into the cake, and we had only one cake. So there it is, that’s it. That’s what it is. My reaction at the time was that it looked wrong.”
Director Andy Morahan said that the concept of “November Rain” is about having a bad dream explaining:
“It’s like a bad dream. It was deliberately over the top. It’s an allegory. When Daniel [Pearl] goes, ‘Oh, I didn’t really like the guy going through the cake,’ I’m not saying it’s a joke, but it is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek bad dream, where everything just goes to shit. For me, that scene was like pissing on the wedding reception in ‘The Godfather.’ It’s an upside-down nightmare version of that wedding.”
The iconic cake scene wasn’t supposed to be added in the final edit of the video, but Axl wanted it there, so they included it. Morahan revealed:
“I agree with Daniel. It looked a little bit too jokey to me. But then I showed the cut to Axl, and he said, ‘Where’s the cake? I love the cake.’ So we put it back in.”
“November Rain” was the first music video from the 1990s to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. But the person who jumped through the cake still stay a mystery.
Watch the video below and see if you can figure out who it is.