AC/DC has always been a straightforward band. Their songs are about rock ’n’ roll, partying, and sex, with no deeper message. The year 1980 launched them into global stardom, with the death of singer Bon Scott, the new guy Brian Johnson, their biggest album Back in Black, and their biggest hit song ever- “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Forty years later, everyone sings along when the anthem is played at weddings. What made that particular song stand out from the rest? For one thing, it was the first song Brian Johnson wrote for the band.
What was different, though, was the noticeable affection that Johnson shows to his object of lust. AC/DC reveled in bad-boy sex songs full of locker-room talk. “We were in Australia, which at that time was still a bit outback,” Malcolm Young explained in 1989. “It was just a way of life, a way of talking, and that’s how we communicated with the audience.” Sure, it could be sexist and objectifying — judging by the stories they bragged about, AC/DC was definitely a boy’s club in which women were sometimes treated like playthings — but the band also evinced a sense of humor that suggested that, at least in the music, it was all just a bit of naughty fun, so what was the harm? (As music journalist Phil Stucliffe, who spent time with the band in the mid-1970s, put it decades later, “They stand for everything I disagree with about our chauvinist view of the woman’s role, yet they’re so totally honest, open and funny about it that I got carried away with liking them.”)
“You Shook Me All Night Long” was hardly chaste or sappy, but it felt far more admiring, practically worshiping this woman. It was as close as AC/DC ever got to writing an actual love song, not that it was actually all that close.
There’s more to it. To this day, many believe that the deceased Bon Scott had a hand in creating the song. And some see a feminist message in it. Read about AC/DC’s biggest hit, how it came about, and what it means at Mel magazine.
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