1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #537: Back in Black (1980)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)

Farewell to the US, dear reader, as we make our way down to Australia. It’s time to check in with AC/DC who previously appeared on our list back in 1977 when they were led by singer, Bon Scott. When we join the group in 1980 they have become successful thanks to 1979 album, Highway to Hell, and the future looks bright. Sadly, the group almost split up following the tragic death of Scott following a night of heavy drinking in London. Encouraged by family and friends to continue, AC/DC recruited English singer, Brian Johnson, and the first album he worked on would be Back in Black, of which 1001 Songs have gone with the title track.

Back in Black was something of a rite of passage for Brian Johnson. It was meant to be a tribute to Bon Scott but the band wanted something worthy of their late friend and leader. They wanted a celebration rather than a ponderous and emotional lament. No pressure then. In the song, Johnson sings from the perspective of Bon Scott and we have a man who is living his life to the fullest. Scott is portrayed as the ultimate daredevil, almost a criminal, constantly on the run and always one step ahead of the authorities that want to stop him in his tracks. Even in death, Bon Scott does not stop, he is a powerhouse, the ultimate ball of energy and a free spirit. 

Brian Johnson proved to be an easy choice to join AC/DC even though the group did audition other potential singers. Charged with writing a song that does justice to the man he replaced, Johnson rose to the challenge and belts out a fitting tribute. What makes Back in Black though is that stunning guitar riff, one that has proved influential in the many years that have followed. Back in Black would be the group’s most successful album and with songs like this and You Shook Me All Night Long, it’s not hard to see why.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (1977)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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