Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Eleven Thoughts On Malcolm Young


Put on your headphones. Malcolm’s on the left. If he’s on the right, then you have your headphones on backwards. Take off your headphones. Put ’em on correctly. Now Malcolm’s on the left. On the recordings, he was on the left, but he stood stage right, hard by the drummer (whichever one it was at the time) and, man, could Malcolm stand there. Bill Wyman stood there pretty good, but Malcolm Young was a god when it came to standing there. Bon prowled around the stage showing the crowd his tattoos and cock, and later Brian would stutter-step up and down the huge catwalks and ramps being genial and wearing his hat; Angus did his Angus moves.

But Malcolm stood there with the other two guys no one looked at making all the noise.


He was tiny. All the Young brothers were. There were three: Mal, Angus, and George, who scored a hit with Friday on My Mind with the Easybeats in ’66 and managed AC/DC their entire careers; he’s dead, too. His guitar dwarfed him. It was a Gretsch, a model called the Jet Firebird, and he ripped out the front pickups to make the instrument simpler. This is a metaphor. He didn’t know or care what he was doing, so he stuck a tube sock in the empty cavity; the sock remained there until 1980. The song Highway To Hell? That was recorded by a guy with a sock in his guitar. That is not a metaphor at all, unless you want it to be.


Rhythm guitar’s tougher than playing lead: anyone can paint a house, but building one’s a bitch.


He was 64 when he died, which is too young for a man and far too old for a rock star.


AC/DC was dumb as shit. Their songs were about pussy and Satan, occasionally Satanic pussy. (AC/DC were not woke.) There were also songs about money, and their genitals. Which is not to say that they couldn’t turn a phrase.

Lookin’ at the sky cuz it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse cuz I’ll never die.

Well, that right there is some high-grade teenage rebellion. I bet when you read it, your hand instinctively reached out to turn up the car radio.

But most of it’s puerile, ameliorated greatly by the fact that both singers were completely incomprehensible. Bon was a slushmouth shrieker and Brian had that Geordie accent which destroyed his vowels to the point that he could not pronounce the name of his own band. Go find an interview with him. Trust me. He makes this…noise…that sounds kinda like ee’YEHsee-d’YEHsee. You can tell what he means in context, but still.


Dementia. He forgot his own songs. Angus would sit backstage with him and go over the riffs before the shows. That worked until it didn’t. Everything works until it doesn’t. He had his good days and bad days. Does a good day mean that you can remember that bad days exist? I’d rather have a bad day. Rock stars were supposed to die in plane crashes and cheap motels. We were promised poetry. First, the songs go and then the scaffolding upon which you built those songs, and then the real basic shit, and then language, and then piss and shit yourself and forget how to chew and swallow. He was mourned on Twitter. This was not supposed to be a rock star’s fate. None of this was.


Go listen to Thunderstruck. Not the fancy famous 16ths that Angus plays, the mutant Bo Diddley riff Malcolm keeps going for the whole tune. That’s the song right there.

Fuck it, stay right here and listen to it:


South Americans are fucking crazy. Did you see that bullshit? Who brings road flares to a concert and starts waving them around at eye-level? South Americans, that’s who.


A lot of AC/DC’s songs are about assumed outcomes. The guy wasn’t in hell yet, just driving there. No dirty deeds had been performed, merely advertised at cut-rate prices. Those being saluted had yet to rock. Maybe AC/DC was speaking about the need to have faith.


The brothers from Oasis are misspelling insults on Twitter as I type this. Last week, Dave Davies mailed Ray a box full of wasps. The Fogertys physically hurl lawyers at one another. Tough being a brother sometimes.

Rhythm guitarists always have chips on their shoulders. Usually, an affect of blue-collarism is employed. One is in service to the song, you see. And then the lead guitarist steps into the spotlight and the girls all scream. Tough being a rhythm guitarist sometimes.

All those Buddhists and acid freaks who preach killing off the ego should study Malcolm Young.


Hey there, all you middlemen.


  1. Excellent post, i spent many a lunch hour smoking bottle toes listening to the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album in my cousin’s Fathom Blue Chevelle…..

  2. You said…
    “AC/DC was dumb as shit”

    Plenty of dumb shit makes you say “turn it off” AC/DC more often made you say “turn that stupid song up !!”

  3. That was perfect, man.

    That was just the tribute Malcolm deserved.

    Well done.

  4. Every pool hall in the world should be flying there ques at half staff toady.

    “Get off your ass and come down here”

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