Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: ac/dc

Eleven Thoughts On Malcolm Young

ONE

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.

TWO

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.

THREE

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

FOUR

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

FIVE

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.

SIX

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.

SEVEN

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:

EIGHT

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.

NINE

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.

TEN

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.

ELEVEN

Hey there, all you middlemen.

Ride On

Broke another promise
And I broke another heart
But I ain’t too young to realize
That I ain’t too old to try
Try to get back to the start
And it’s another redlight nightmare
Another redlight street
And I ain’t too old to hurry
Cause I ain’t too old to die
But I sure am hard to beat

Gonna change my evil ways
One of these days…

Thanks, Malcolm

Angus played the solos under the spotlight; Angus wore the funny costume and shook his ass for the crowds.

Malcolm planted his feet by the drum kit and played the riffs, and riffs are what AC/DC songs are made of.

There Ought To Be A Law

Here’s the thing about AC/DC.

We are not doing Thoughts on the AC/DC.

I’m ignoring you. Listen to this: it’s the Bon Scott version of the band at the Hammersmith in ’79, and the recording is superb. Don’t pay attention to Angus. I know it’s tough; he plays many notes. Listen to your right ear: that’s Malcolm, and he was the entire sound of the band.

Rhythm guitarists are the key, man.

Oh, shut up.

Okay.

“Whom”

An underrated classic from AC/DC that, because it is AC/DC, sounds exactly like all their overrated classics. Who Made Who is Money Talks crossed with Thunderstruck, but I can live with that.

Also: both Angus’ and Brian Johnson’s hair is the best it would ever look in this video. Brian looks like a Geordie Oscar Gamble.

Another Happy Thing

Wait ’til they start doing the harmonies. Trust me, believe me, they do the harmonies bigly.

Pitchfork Is Sizeist

Why are you fat-shaming Rosie, Pitchfork? Yes, there’s a whole lotta her–42-39-56, to be exact–but it’s rather regressive and problematic of you to not practice HAAS (Humping At Any Size). Maybe if Rosie slimmed down enough to fit into skinny jeans, right?

I stand with Rosie, Pitchfork. I stand with all the Rosies because y’know what, Pitchfork? Rosie’s a good time. Rosie wants the job, and she’ll put in the work. Rosie’s good at stuff that skinny chicks haven’t even heard of. Rosie’s up for it; Rosie’s down; Rosie a gamer. She’ll play hurt, and make her coach proud. Team Rosie.

Also, Marvin Gaye is on the list several times, and he doesn’t have any songs at all with titanic guitar riffs that get answered by stadia full of teenagers screaming the guitarist’s name back at him. (Marvin Gaye’s fine. Y’know? He’s great, whatever, good for him. Let’s just say that he was very lucky to get shot when he did. Made all of his songs much better.)

Why Does Pitchfork Have Hate In Its Heart?

It is now personal, Enthusiasts. For the past day, I’ve been reading and re-reading Pitchfork’s lie of a joke of a farce of a scam of a clickbait of a list; something tickled at the butthole of my mind. I was missing something that they had missed. Which overlooked category had I overlooked?

It wasn’t Prog Rock: there is almost none, which is odd. Prog Rock has made a small resurgence among Pitchforkers and the Urban Bearded lately, although Prog is always making a small resurgence Prog Rock’s popularity is like the advent of flying cars: perpetually on the horizon. There’s no early Genesis or any of the 70’s-era King Crimson lineups or even Gentle Giant, so there’s no hope for Gong or Magma. Plus, there’s no Yes, so Vincent Gallo is so mad at Pitchfork right now. You wouldn’t like Vincent Gallo when he’s angry, or when he’s happy, or ever.

There is little-to-no choogle. The Dead gets a token reference, and though some have argued that Friend of the Devil was not the correct pick, I have a differing opinion. I think FOTD might still be sung around fires fifty years from now, and to fussing babies a century in the future. It’s a songy song that’s good to sing, and should be sung. So, I’m okay with Friend of the Devil, but there is no Creedence; I recommend criminal charges be filed against all of Pitchfork’s employees for this transgression.

As I mentioned, there is very little in the way of Butt Rock. Butt Rock gets no love in Brooklyn because the wrong people enjoyed it, and also because a great deal of it is dumb as shit. Regardless: if you sold out arenas and opened for KISS in the 70’s, you were not allowed to be on Pitchfork’s list. Obviously, you were also not on the list if you were KISS. (Even though Detroit Rock City and Hard Luck Woman are provable masterpieces of Butt Rock song craftsmanship.)

At this point, I need to ask Pitchfork to pull up a chair, and I’m going to sit opposite Pitchfork, but with my chair turned around and my arms draped casually across the back.

“Pitchfork? Hey, buddy. How are ya? How’s school? That’s great.

“Y’know, champ: it was a great effort you made with the country songs you chose. No Crystal Gayle or Kenny Rogers, but that’s okay. That’s okay.

“But you left off Willie, buddy. Willie Nelson. The Red-Headed Stranger?

“So, yeah: I have to punish you for this. Run outside and fetch the chainsaw.”

Many locales and scenes are drastically underserved in favor of what some* are calling “obscure foreign bullshit.” New Orleans is barely heard from, and Los Angeles is treated like a pilled-up stripper working the afternoon shift at Jumbo’s Clown Room, and Canada may as well not exist, and one other place.

Australia.

You motherfuckers forgot AC/DC.

More like Bitchfork.

You showed them.

You see how I saved up my big insult for the end?

Proud of you, slugger. You told the list what’s what.

Pitchfork is racist against Australians.

Australian is not a race.

It is racist to point out that things are not races.

Sure.

 

*Me.

Just Like Jack & Jill

The Dead wrote about 135 songs, and did probably half again as many covers, except that doesn’t tell the whole story. Mainly because some songs, they wrote three or four times.

Jack-A-Roe and Peggy-O are–thematically–the same song: doomed love, hyphens, Game of Thrones vibe. Ramble On Rose and  Tennessee Jed are musically the same song, while Ramble On Rose and U.S. Blues are lyrically the same song. Eyes of the World and Help on the Way could be mistaken for each other in a dark alley.

The Dead are lucky that they premiered Iko, Samson, Throwing Stones,and Women are Smarter after their mind-blowing Europe ’72 warm-up show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Dick’s Pick 30). Otherwise, jamming with Mr. Diddley might have been a little more awkward. (And if you haven’t checked out this offering, you’re just a sillypants: the first disc* alone is worth the price of admission, featuring the five song Bo Diddley jam, a version of Are You Lonely For Me, Baby that defines “ragged but right,” and the only GD performance of How Sweet It Is**–which is odd, because they really rock the hell out of it, but perhaps the three chord tune was a bit boring for a certain bass player.)

To Lay Me Down, Must Have Been the Roses, and Ship of Fools are identical cousins; Black-Throated Wind and Looks Like Rain a bit more distantly related, but still clearly available to donate organs to one another. (Don’t tell Phil.) Chinatown Shuffle and U.S. Blues aren’t fooling anyone.

Now, don’t take this as any sort of chastisement, of course. Hell, a lot of really, really popular bands ripped themselves off: for example, AC/DC has only written, like, three songs in their entire career, which puts them two ahead of the Ramones.

*I hadn’t listened all the way through that first amazing disc when I wrote this, but you MUST check out the Smokestack Lightning, which is usually kind of a drag, but cooks right here PLUS the added fun of–about 8 minutes in or so–hearing Bobby try again and again to drag the rest of them into Truckin’, but the rest of them are simply not having it.

**I mistakenly thought that Bobby and Garcia played How Sweet It Is on Letterman, but it was actually Second That Emotion, because, in keeping with the theme of the post, they are also pretty much the same song. Check it out, anyway: Garcia with Tiger, Bobby with Pepto Pink, and the MONSTROUS Will Lee holding down the bass and backup vocals.

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