by George Heymann

Stories behind great songs #4, AC/DC

by Jon Pompia

“Highway to Hell.” What was taken by many Fundamentalist Christians as an ode to eternal damnation actually was written about a genuine highway.

According to legend, “Highway to Hell” was the nickname for the Canning Highway in Australia, which extended from late singer Bon Scott’s home to a raucous pub called The Raffles, a big rock and roll drinking hole.

As Canning Highway gets close to the pub, it dips down into a steep decline. This may have served as the inspiration for the line “No stop signs, speed limits; nobody gonna slow me down.”
As more than one person had a tendency to barrel over the intersection at the top of the hill  en route to the bar, fatal accidents became commonplace.
No stranger to a drink at the pub, Bon Scott depicted a literal trip on that road within the famous AC/DC song.
“Ain’t nothing I would rather do. Going down, party time, my friends are gonna be there too.”
That’s one take on it. Brian Johnson, who replaced Bon Scott after his unfortunate demise, had this to say: “It was written about being on the bus on the road where it takes forever to get from Melbourne or Sydney to Perth across the Nullarbor Plain. When the Sun’s setting in the west and you’re driving across it, it is like a fire ball. There is nothing to do, except have a quick one off the wrist or a game of cards, so that’s where Bon came up with the lyrics.”

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Lead guitarist Angus Young got the song title from the 1962 animated cartoon series “Beanie and Cecil.”
The specific inspiration was the cartoon’s main villain, “Dishonest John,” who carried a business card that said, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Holidays, Sundays, and Special Rates.”

“Whole Lotta Rosie.” Bon Scott made no secret of his appreciation for full figured women. The Rosie in question was a giant sized (42-39-56) gal from Tasmania, whom Bon knew on a Biblical level.

“Back in Black.” After the death of Bon Scott, the future of the band was in limbo, at least for a while. But with the selection of Brian Johnson as Scott’s replacement, the band returned stronger than ever — truly “back in black.” Black, of course, being the color associated with darkness and foreboding.
A tribute to Scott, the album had several references to the wild frontman, including the lines “forget the hearse ’cause I’ll never die;” the 13 bell tolls that kick off the album; and the entire song “Have a Drink On Me.”

“The Jack.”  This title is Australian slang for gonorrhea, which the entire band became familiar with thanks to a houseful of women of questionable morals.
Said Scott: “We were living with this houseful of ladies who were all very friendly and everyone in the band had got the jack. So we wrote this song and the first time we did it on stage, they were all in the front row with no idea what was goin’ to happen. When it came to repeatin’ ‘She’s got the jack’ I pointed at them one after another.”
In typical witty fashion, Scott disguises the song’s actual meaning by turning the lyrics around to describe a card game, in which the female culprit is the one holding The Jack.

“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” This is a play on a phrase attributed to ancient Rome, in which gladiators going into battle saluted Julius Caesar by saying, “Those of us about to die, we salute you.”
Angus Young got the idea for the title from a book about Rome entitled, obviously, “For Those About To Die, We Salute You.”

“War Machine.” Guitarist Angus Young’s initial inspiration was a History Channel program about war machines used in the Roman and Greek armies.
Frontman Brian Johnson told Motor Trend magazine: “I said, ‘There’s not much difference — these huge boulder-throwing things were sent over walls to kill. The only difference now is we have laser-guided bombs with electronics, but they still kill civilians and soldiers.”     Johnson added that the song is not a statement on the Iraq conflict. “Every war is a daft war. There hasn’t been one sensible war. It’s about the machines they build for war. They still can’t cure cancer, but they can build something that can kill people.”


Filed under: Media, Music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. […] the original here: Stories behind great songs #4, AC/DC | Technology-Headlines var addthis_pub = […]

  2. Ac Dc says:

    […] · News · Opinion. worldwide hippies. AC/DC – Hells Bells (Live In Rio 1985). 2011 JuAc Dc – Home · About · Friends · Store · Events · Fashion · […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Our Twitter Feed

Click to download our official Android App


%d bloggers like this: