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BRIAN JOHNSON Reveals The Mundane Inspirations For Some Back In Black Lyrics

Just discussing the weather spawned some classic lyrics.


AC/DC's 1980 album Back In Black was the band's first effort with then-new vocalist Brian Johnson, who joined shortly after the death of Bon Scott earlier that same year. Back In Black is still listed as one of the top five best selling albums of all time, though Johnson recalls struggling with some of the lyrics and finding inspiration in typically mundane things. For instance, Johnson said he came up with some the lyrics to "You Shook Me All Night Long" on the spot after rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young asked him if he was a lyricist.

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"You know, Malcolm came up to us, I think on the second day, and he said, 'Can you write lyrics?' And I said, 'I'll give it a shot.' He said, 'Well, here you go!' And he put it in. And I just heard this riff, and I just wrote. I was a car fanatic then as well, so the first line I wrote down was, 'She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean'.

"You know, it was the best thing I could come up with. 'Best damn woman I ever seen.' And it just went on from there. We were only there [for] six weeks. I mean, it belies belief that we actually did this album, this monster album, in six weeks. But the budget was in such a way that we really couldn't afford to hang around."

Johnson later recalls being down in the Bahamas recording Back In Black and feeling like he had run out of lyrics. Producer Mutt Lange noticed that Johnson was visibly not himself one moring and, during their conversation, began talking about an oncoming storm… which spawned some of the lyrics to "Hells Bells."

"One of the things while being on that island, I remember [it was] about five songs in, and I was going, 'Gosh, I think I've just run over lyrics!' It's because it was every day."

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"And Mutt Lange, the producer, came down and he could see that I wasn't my chirpy self for breakfast, and he said 'Everything all right, Brian,' because he's from South Africa. And I said, 'Yeah, just struggling a little bit.' And it was a real bad day, the like of which I had never seen before. And it was called a tropical storm. And the sky went black, and thunder…"

"And he went, 'Oh, it's rolling thunder,' And I go, 'rolling thunder, pouring rain, coming on like a hurricane…' 'White lightning flashing' – I mean, I literally was giving a weather report! And it came out. So, it was just all those factors helping… You never realize when something's so fabulous and it looks so easy, and whenever you try to do it again, it never works!"

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