image from shutupandplay.ca
|You Shook Me All Night Long
Writer(s): Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Brian Johnson (see lyrics here)
First Charted: 9/6/1980
Peak: 36 US, 42 CB, 42 HR, 38 UK, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.25 UK, 1.32 world (includes US + UK)
Radio Airplay *: --
Video Airplay *: 218.6
Streaming *: --
* in millions
AC/DC’s Back in Black has become such a mainstay on “best albums of all time” lists now that it is easy to forget the uncertainty the band faced when the album was released in 1980. On February 19 of that year, the band’s lead singer, Bon Scott, died after a drinking binge. It was Scott’s father who encouraged the band to find a new singer and soldier on. SF Brian Johnson stepped in and the band found the greatest success of their career.
Guitarists Angus and Malcom Young already had the title and the chords, but needed words. Johnson supplied his “gravelly, raspy vocals and easy-to-learn, almost exultant, double-entendre lyrics.” AMG (“She told me to come but I was already there”). The song is basically “a night-after bragging session with a heavy dose of swagger and pomp.” AMG It “was equal parts naughty and proud, pop-tinged yet stomp-worthy,” AMG which probably explains the song’s popularity at strip clubs. SF
The inspiration for “You Shook Me All Night Long” came while the band was recording in the Bahamas. Never a band known for “deep, meaningful lyrics,” SF Johnson turned images of American girls into lyrics where he compared women to cars in lines like “She was a fast machine/ She kept her motor clean.” SF Johnson said it “just fell into place so I can’t claim any credit on that thing.” SF Of the Young brothers’ work, he said, “It’s one of the greatest rock and roll riffs I’ve ever heard in my life.” SF
It has “a simple beat; a melodic, heavy rock-boogie riff; a shrill, pumping guitar solo.” AMG The “pop-tinged guitar chords give the song a slap-on-the-back, beer-swilling friendliness” AMG which is probably why it has become “a hard rock staple…popular at sporting events and bars, and…one of…hard rock’s most memorable party anthems.” AMG Johnson told USA Weekend he considers the song the highlight of the band’s catalog because “It was the first song I wrote with the guys and it has a special groovy beat that won’t let you go. It has such a special place in my heart…it might be one of the best rock songs ever written – if I do say so myself.” SF
Resources and Related Links:
Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.