Following on from the final entry in Covers Week January 2018 comes that tied in AC/DC season.
From Joan Jett taking on one of Bon Scott’s sleaziest to the original line up (ish) of the band doing a song which has been co-opted and defanged over the years from the shirtless prison tattooed hard luck tale it is, into a theme from a kids movie and West End show.
It’s a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock And Roll) used to spell how tough and mean the whiskey drinking, speed freaks tying their mothers down in the rockers bar playing this song are.
“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”
But in the day and age where Topshop sell band T-Shirts to people who don’t know AC/DC is a band, this song could lose it’s potency.
“Gettin’ old, gettin’ grey, gettin’ ripped off under-paid, Gettin’ sold second hand, that’s how it goes playin’ in a band”
I’m not blaming Jack Black. He’s as real a rock and roll journey man as Angus, or Slash or Johnny Depp. I’m not blaming the movies, in fact I’m not blaming anyone. It’s a good thing that you can switch on ITV 2 at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and hear this song in School Of Rock or as a piece of link music for a baking show or covered by The Wiggles.
Here’s my gripe. Bon Scott never really got his day. He was a road dog. He lived for making live primal rock music like this. With a bag pipe solo. A. Bag. Pipe. Solo. If anyone ever tells you all AC/DC records are the same. Ask them which track had the bag pipe solo?
Did you know that Brian Johnson never performed this song live with AC/DC as a mark of respect to Bon Scott? I love that. He saw this one as all Bon’s. That glorious bastard.
This song was recorded in 1975. And it’s about how they’re road weary, greying and jaded. That’s 42 years ago…