McKagan’s EP shines a light on mental health struggles and delivers a powerful message of empathy and unity.
Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has unveiled a deeply personal and introspective new EP titled “This Is The Song,” marking his first solo music since his 2019 album “Tenderness.” Released on May 10 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, the EP features three acoustic tracks: the title track, “Pass You By,” and “It Can’t Come Too Soon.” Accompanying the release is a captivating music video for the title track.
In a heartfelt statement, McKagan shared that his move into his own recording studio in 2019 provided him with the opportunity to revisit fragments of songs he had written in the past. However, the subsequent global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the impact of isolation on McKagan, who has battled panic disorder since his teenage years.
The EP’s title track, “This Is The Song,” was born out of McKagan’s experience in the midst of a panic attack. Struggling to breathe and disoriented, he found solace in his acoustic guitar. McKagan described how playing chords and hummed melodies became his lifeline, helping him navigate through the depths of despair. With candor, he expressed his understanding for those who have never encountered such challenges while reaching out to those who can relate, assuring them they are not alone.
Quoting McKagan’s statement, he explained, “‘This Is The Song’ was written in the middle of a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t see straight, and lately, I have thankfully found my acoustic guitar as a refuge. If I just hold on to that guitar, play chords, and hum melodies, I can start to climb my way out of that hole. For those of you who have never experienced something like this, count yourselves blessed. To those of you who recognize what I am talking about: you are not alone!”
The inspiration behind “It Can’t Come Too Soon” stemmed from McKagan’s involvement in recording vocals for Shaina Sheperd’s cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 2019. The final track, “Pass You By,” was inspired by an encounter during a motorcycle ride with a friend in the Pacific Northwest countryside. The incident involved a woman on a horse circling and questioning them. McKagan’s self-proclaimed mantra of “Don’t be a dick” resonated strongly in this situation, highlighting the importance of treating others with respect and understanding.
Reflecting on the encounter, McKagan shared his thoughts, stating, “Anyhow, it was really just kind of embarrassing, and in the end, I could totally sense her fear of the ‘other,’ which I guess we were to her at that moment. City boys, I suppose… coming out to stir shit up. But alas, this was just a sad indication of where things have gotten to in some places. Man, just be cool… We are all on this lovely planet together… No need to freak the fuck out.”
Fans can read McKagan’s full statement about the EP on his official website and stream the EP below.
While McKagan embarked on a solo tour in support of “Tenderness” in 2019, he is currently gearing up for a busy schedule with Guns N’ Roses over the next few months. The band’s highly anticipated 2023 tour will commence on June 1 in Abu Dhabi, followed by European shows throughout the summer, and a North American run starting in early August.