“Back In Black is still such an important record. It is a permanent reminder to all musicians that we can achieve something mind blowing when we come together as a group, have faith in one another and actually play together when we record.” -Dan Hawkins
“We just want to make the walls cave in and the ceiling collapse. Music is meant to be played as loudly as possible, really raw and punchy, and I’ll punch out anyone who doesn’t like it the way I do.” -Bon Scott
On the morning of February 19th, 1980, AC/DC singer Bon Scott was found dead in his car on a street in London at 33 years old. The band was red hot, fresh off the success of their several times platinum record Highway to Hell, and Bon Scott was the perfect face of a loud, angry, rocking group of punks who just made pure rock music. He famously lived fast and loose, doing whatever he pleased without any regard for his well being and was well known for avoiding the consequences, which is referenced in lyrics of Back in Black‘s title track with the line “Nine Lives, Cat Eyes”, but his lifestyle finally caught up with him. While Bon probably wouldn’t be too upset about the way that he went out, he left a massive hole in the world of rock and roll. The remaining members of AC/DC were left with a choice: what now? They were maybe the hottest rock group on Earth, only 5 years had passed since the group was formed and they had plenty of rock left in them, but taking such a hit can prove to be fatal to a band’s career. AC/DC chose to do what they knew Bon would have wanted, the only thing he truly loved: they took up arms and chose to rock. The result was not an elegiac and somber remembrance of their friend, it was quite the opposite. AC/DC, with new vocalist Brian Johnson, produced a pulse pounding, ground shaking, aggressive celebration of rock and roll which to this day is the 2nd highest selling record of all time. Donning the proper attire for the funeral of their fallen friend, AC/DC gave us, and Bon Scott, one of the greatest rock records of all time. That record was Back in Black.
When it comes to this album, there is a lot that I could say. I could spout figures and point out how successful it, and its corresponding tour, were. I could talk about the way that the music was written. I could preach how important it is to popular music and assure you of its place in the rock and roll pantheon. I could do a lot of things, but I’ll instead just keep it simple. Back in Black is an album that, despite being born of saddening circumstances, has brought a lot of joy and meant a lot to a lot of people, myself included. If you follow the Musical Training Plan actively, though, you’ve probably had your fill of what I think, so once again I’m handing the reigns over to somebody else to share what this album means to them. Today’s guest author is somebody who talks even more than I do: my older brother, Noah. Here’s some brief insight on what Back in Black means to Noah on today, his 22nd birthday.
10 songs, 42 minutes, all ROCK! Back in Black by AC/DC is an all-time great album. I do not say this due to the copies sold and the statistics about this album, rather, I say this due to the rocking vibe and the memories or people that these songs trigger me to think of. I still listen to the title song, “Back in Black”, at some point before races- that song is HIGH VOLTAGE! While I do correlate some of these songs with a running montage in my head, mainly I think of 2 incredible men in my life: Benjamin and Gary Jacobs. Listening to rock and roll on the way to Elsa Meyer Elementary (likely late or dang close) after watching Wacky Races on Boomerang. Rock and Roll is so pure to me, reminds me of simple days, screaming songs in a car that I did not understand were about drugs, or sex, or anything like that. Rock and Roll is at the core of my music soul, I get that straight from my dad. Ben and I will always share that, and this album BANGS the whole time! All the tracks are great, you open with the church bells, and close knowing that ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’, and as Bill Murray once said in Caddyshack, “That’s all she wrote”.
Doesn’t that just warm your heart? AC/DC’s Back in Black may be a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame record, but now it officially receives a much higher honor: Jacobs Brothers’ Certified Banger.
Rock and Roll will never die, at least not if I can help it.
Rolling thunder, pouring rain// I’m comin’ on like a hurricane.
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