AC/DC – It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)

For my posts I have no system…no master plan…I just post randomly every day. I do have the occasional series but for the most part I keep it spontaneous. That sometimes leads to late nights frantically searching for songs  but it keeps it exciting…and me sleepy during the day.

I ran across this video from a seventies Australia TV show called “Bandstand” with Bon Scott fronting ACDC with bagpipes…I’m on board!!! I just had to post it. Bon was a good musician who could play drums, recorder, and a bit of bagpipes.

Angus and Malcolm’s older brother George suggested using bagpipes in this song. Bon Scott agreed despite having never played them before…Bon did play them on the recording and live until they were destroyed by fans.

This was an autobiographical song for AC/DC describing their struggles as they toured relentlessly trying to make it. At the time, they were just getting started and playing some seedy venues with even worse business associates. The band was sometimes labeled as a punk band…a label they hated. I have never thought of ACDC as a punk band…if you look on the single cover you will see “Original Punk Music.”

The song peaked at #9 in Australia in 1975. The song was written by Bon Scott with  Angus and Malcolm Young.

Brian Johnson said he will not sing this out of respect for Bon Scott.  Bon Scott’s band was opening for future lead singer Johnson’s band Geordie in the early 1970s. Bon Scott was impressed by Johnson’s performance and told his band about him.

Brian Johnson: “Bon Scott was up on stage singing, and we met and had a couple of beers. He watched us play, and God bless his cotton socks again, when he did join AC/DC he was talking to the boys and he did say something to the effect that the only rock singer that he’d seen that was worth a damn was me, which was really nice of him, and the boys never forgot that.”

Brian Johnson: “I think he embodied everything that was fun, everything that was like ‘never say die, live life to the full.’ And he had a terrible thing happen to him when he passed on. He wasn’t a wild, wild, wild man he was just as wild as the other boys were. He was just unlucky. We’ve all done stupid, dumb things where we’re young, but we got away with it. He didn’t. It was just one of them stupid things that shouldn’t have happened, and it was accidental and it was stupid. And I just won’t have a bad word said against him. We still talk about him like he’s a member of the band in the dressing room.”

From Songfacts

“It’s A Long Way To The Top” really summed us up as a band,” Angus Young told Rolling Stone. It was the audience that really allowed us to even get near a studio.

A study in contrast is the Boston song “Rock And Roll Band,” released in 1976. That song tells the story of a similar struggle, but it was completely made up: Boston was a studio act first and foremost and had immediate success with their first album.

According to Bon Scott’s biographer Clinton Walker, this tongue-in-cheek song “has become an anthem.” Heavy metal tracks are usually dominated by ego-tripping guitar solos; this song is unusual because instead of a lengthy guitar solo it features interplay between Angus Young on lead and Bon Scott on the bagpipes. Ronald Belford (Bonnie Scotland) Scott was born in Scotland – as were the Young brothers. The somewhat older Scott arrived in Australia with his family some 11 years before the Youngs emigrated; he learned recorder and drums, and was a proficient bagpipe player.

The song runs to 5 minutes 15 seconds, which is quite long for a single.

The band made a video to promote the single and the album. This was filmed on February 23, 1976 when they rode through the center of Melbourne on an open topped truck accompanied by three members of the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band. The most noticeable feature of the video is that the vocalist was really enjoying himself, but, Walker adds, “it’s as if Bon acknowledges he’s living on borrowed time, and luckily at that.” It would not be such a long way to the top for AC/DC, but four years later almost to the day, it would all be over for Bon. On February 19, 1980 he was found dead on the back seat of a car in London, having literally drunk himself to death. 

In 2004, one of the streets in Melbourne near where this video was filmed was renamed “ACDC Lane” in honor of the band. The street was formerly known as Corporation Lane. 

Jack Black and the School of Rock band play a version of this at the end of the movie School of Rock. The interplay is between the singer and all the members of the band. 

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the byways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks

It’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one-night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Hotel
Motel
Make you wanna cry
Ladies do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ old
Gettin’ gray
Gettin’ ripped off
Underpaid
Gettin’ sold
Second-hand
That’s how it goes
Playin’ in a band

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen
Look out it’s rough and mean
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

It’s a long way
It’s a long way
It’s a long way
It’s a long way