Driving without Bon

Last week I proposed that driving around is one of the better ways to listen to Acca Dacca: you can turn it up loud without disturbing the neighbours… the stereo in the car is pretty good, and somehow the rhythms of the highway meld with the driving force of the rock rhythms.

So to try it out, I picked Diego up from his house, and we went for a spin around Redfern. Earlier, Diego had told me about his first encounter with an AC/DC cassette tape – in Italy in the late 1980s. Telling the story, he couldn’t help himself, and air guitarred the key riff from Back in Black. So Back in Black, naturally, was his album of choice for our drive. I went and bought it from the record store (thereby doing my little bit to help cement it as AC/DC’s highest selling LP of all time).

Bon Scott, of course, doesn’t actually sing on Back in Black: by the time of its recording, 1980, he was freshly dead. Malcolm and Angus Young quickly auditioned for a new singer, who turned out to be Brian Johnson. Now I don’t want to get bogged down in a fruitless never-ending debate, but if you Google “Who is better: Brian Johnson or Bon Scott?” you come up with over seventy thousand hits. So you can see that this controversy, far from being laid to rest, is one of the defining and enduring features of the band.

I’ll reserve my opinion on this for later. In the meantime, you can listen to Diego musing “live” over the top of the album… some of the songs trigger memories of his first home-made tattoo, the time he did a strip-tease to Back in Black and his Eighties enthusiasm for Reggae…

We head down Regent Street, past Green Square to Gardeners Road, and then proceed to loop back up past Redfern Station. As a result of skipping a few tracks we get bored with, the odd nip n tuck in the editing, and muddied by road noises and conversation (apologies to the purists), Back in Black is thus compressed to just 18 minutes.

Click here to listen now, or right click and choose “save target as” to download the file [mp3, 10mb, 18 mins].

Or for the time-poor, here is a shorter version, with just the first six minutes…[mp3, 3mb, 6 mins].

Driving with Bon

acdc car
(Thanks to this fella for the above image)

Since the best stereo available to me is in a borrowed Toyota Yaris, that’s where I’ve been doing a lot of my listening. I can turn up the volume real loud and in that little bubble, really feel the music. It’s not the same coming out the tinny computer speakers or the crappy kitchen boombox. But sometimes it involves travelling with others, who, for some reason or another, are not entirely convinced of the genius of AC/DC. My girlfriend Lizzie, for instance. While I experience the “OI!-OI!-OI!s” on the song TNT as mischievous, subtly subversive and quite hilarious, (and although these OI!s are very Australian, I don’t find them at all “patriotic”) she cringes at ’em.

And while the poker/card game conceit on “She’s Got The Jack” (eg: “But how was I to know that she’d be shuffled before?“) are admittedly cheesy, for some reason I laugh at them every time. They come across, to me, as a parody of sorts (although, a parody of what exactly?) Lizzie begs to differ.

For my third and final example, take a few lines from the song “Rock and Roll Singer“:

Well you can stick your nine to five livin’
And your collar and your tie
You can stick your moral standards
‘Cause it’s all a dirty lie
You can stick your golden handshake
And you can stick your silly rules
And all the other shit
That you teach to kids in school
(‘Cause I ain’t no fool)

…at the line “You can stick your moral standards” she even has the nerve to scoff, audibly! (which is quite a feat when the music is turned up loud). The basic problem, as I see it, is that Lizzie hates unsubstantiated activist propaganda. To her, “stick your moral standards” is just an impossible paradox (how could you do that, even if you wanted to?)…and therefore scoff-worthy. And yet! – knowing a smidgeon about Bon’s own history, this song comes across as a kind of autobiography. This is not just an abstract song which could be sung by anyone. It’s Bon’s own tale. And it seems that Bon did live this reality (although, of course, he would be dead from it a few years later, but that’s another story).

Whatever your taste, driving around is certainly a good way to experience the music in a full bodied way. As opposed to drily writing about it in a blog, for instance. So I’ve decided to do some audio recordings with fans while we drive. Here’s the idea. You make up your perfect Acca Dacca mix-tape for me, and we’ll drive around with it turned up loud, recording our conversation as we listen. Maybe we’ll go somewhere significant, maybe we’ll just drive aimlessly. Then I’ll edit it a bit and upload it here as a podcast.