April 20, 2018

Drew Millard is a fast machine.

[Ed. note: Each week, or every other week, or once a month, Drew Millard will break down a different A.C./D.C. because, in his words, “there is no one writing a column specifically about AC/DC songs and that’s fucked the fuck up.”

There are exactly two types of songs in the A.C./DisCography—ones that are about literally whatever the title of the song is (“Back in Black,” “Rocker”), and songs whose titles are crude, thinly veiled metaphors for sex (basically all of the other A.C./D.C. songs). Musically, all of their songs consist of three power chords plus a solo, and the first thing I talked about combined with the second thing means that if A.C./D.C. had all fucked off back to Australia after their original lead singer Bon Scott drank himself to death we would look at them as the Down Under New York Dolls and not the boogie-rock band that went on to headline Ozzfest. But instead, they soldiered on without the dearly departed Scott, hiring his friend Brian Johnson in his place, dedicating the bajillion-selling Back in Black to his memory and, nearly four decades later, hiring Axl Rose after Johnson’s hearing went on its own highway to hell.

But I am skipping over a few things, and the main thing I am skipping over is “You Shook Me All Night Long,” the closest thing to a love song A.C./D.C. ever wrote. Because it is still an A.C./D.C. song, it contains the lyric, “You told me to come but I was already there,” which I’m pretty sure is a reference to Johnson cumming in his pants. It’s an all-American, working-class romance, as told by a group of rich Australians whose only previous expressions of adulation had all been aimed squarely at Chuck Berry.

While most A.C./D.C. songs deal with sex in a way that implies the narrator has never had sex at all, “Shook Me” instead views the physical act of love (coitus) as this all-powerful thing that the narrator has given himself over to fully, trapped in the thrall of this experience he can barely fathom, one that sends the walls a-shaking, the earth a-quaking, his mind a-aching, etc. To say it’s sweet is an understatement, it’s almost innocent. What it’s not, however, is actually sexy. Brian Johnson exists as inalienable proof that it’s possible to be a great rock and roll vocalist and still sound like you’re trying to squeeze out a shit.

My entire life I have assumed this song was explicitly about two people meeting in a dive bar and deciding to fuck. The scene in my mind is this: the woman sits alone in a corner booth, smoking a cigarette, surveying the juke joint as if it were her domain. She locks eyes with A.C./D.C. Man, a badass, motorcycle-riding, rocker dude with fists of stone but a heart of down. He is playing pool, but as their eyes meet he is drawn to her, abandoning the game and leaving the $20 he’d just bet on it just for the chance to talk to this intimidatingly perfect woman.

From there, things get as hot and heavy as a Roadhouse porn parody. What I love about this song is, even though I’ve always believed this to be true, is that it’s nowhere in the lyrics: it’s all implied, and maybe it’s all implied solely to me. There’s something powerful about a song that can evoke that sense of place and setting, no matter how silly or goofy or sexy-unsexy it may be, and shit like this is why I will always ride for A.C./D.C. despite the fact that they are A.C./D.C.