"Catcher in the Rye" (Brian May Demo)
One of Chinese Democracy's inarguable high points, "Catcher in the Rye" contains every Axl Rose hallmark: swirling production, Taupin-esque lyrics ("On an ordinary day/Not in an ordinary way/All at once the song I heard/ No longer wouldn't play") and outrageous girth (runtime: nearly six minutes). But it's a shame he second-guessed the demo version he cut, which was buoyed by an ebullient solo from Brian May. The Queen guitar ace provided a soothing counterpoint to Rose's mercurial energy — it wasn't the first time the two collaborated, having played together at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992 — but the head Gun ultimately chose to excise May's contribution. During an online message-board chat in 2008, he said the final solo (played by Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal) was nonetheless inspired by May. "It's entirely constructed from edits based around one specific note Brian hit in a throwaway take," Rose wrote. "And though Brian seems to have warmed a bit to it, at least publicly, he was unfortunately none too pleased at the time with our handiwork. I remember looking at Brian standing to my left and him staring at the big studio speakers a bit aghast saying, 'But that's not what I played.'"