9 of the Biggest Rock n’ Roll Ironies of All Time

Guns n' Roses have two and so does Kurt Cobain. What about the others?


William Shatner as Buck Murdock in Airplane II said it best: “Sometimes irony can be pretty ironic.” Hard to argue with that. Speaking of which, rock n’ roll is a common source of irony. To follow aren’t necessarily the biggest examples, but examples nonetheless:

The Lyrics of Guns n’ Roses’ “Mr. Brownstone.” Anyone that’s seen Guns n’ Roses in concert in the past couple decades or so likely had to call in sick the next day, the price for sitting through a two-hour-plus concert that begins some time after midnight but was supposed to begin two hours earlier. In the lyrics to the heroin-anthem “Mr. Brownstone,” written when Axl Rose and punctuality, presumably, weren’t bitter enemies, he sings, “The show usually starts around seven/We go on stage around nine.” In all fairness, it is 9 o’ clock somewhere.

Steven Adler Getting Kicked Out of Guns n’ Roses for Drug Addiction. Speaking of GNR and heroin, Steven Adler was booted from the hard-rock troupe in 1990 for dancing a little too much with Mr. Brownstone. While that would seem like a terrific reason to cut ties with the drummer, having a bunch of drug addicts fire another drug addict for being a drug addict is a little like a cruller complaining that a beignet has too much sugar.

Kurt Cobain Swore He Didn’t Have a Gun. Kurt Cobain sang “I swear I don’t have a gun,” like, eight times in the Nevermind track “Come As You Are.” Seven times, we have our doubts, but eight? Ok, so maybe the gun came later, but the song was a hit so every time we hear it now we’re reminded that at one point he did, unquestionably, have a gun.

Hole’s Live Through This. Just four days after Cobain’s lifeless body was discovered, Hole—fronted by Cobain’s widow Courtney Love—released “Live Through This.” A little too late.

Dude, You Look Like a Lady. Steven Tyler hadn’t fully “transitioned” into looking like Caitlin Jenner’s canasta partner when he wrote “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” Well, take a look at “him” now.


ZZ Top’s Beardless Drummer. The only guy in ZZ Top without a beard’s last name is Frank Beard. That squares the circle.


Alanis Morissette Misunderstanding of Ironic is Ironic. This one takes the cake. Morissette provides 11 examples of irony in her 1995 hit “Ironic,” but not a one of them qualifies. Insert the “isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?” kicker here.

Billy Joel Praising Pete Rose’s Scruples. In the 1978 song “Zanzibar,” Billy Joel drops the almost non-sequitur lyric “Rose, he knows he’s such a credit to the game.” Let’s get a polygraph on that.

Pete Townshend Hopes He Dies Before He Gets Old. Roger Daltrey sang it but it was Townshend who wrote the famous refrain, “I hope I die before I get old,” in one of The Who’s first hits, “My Generation.” Well, Townshend is old, bald, irascible, mostly deaf, and suddenly Tommy is looking pretty good.

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