Monday, September 12, 2016

Bon Scott – An Appreciation

I always thought that once you reach the age of 35 or so, it seems rather ludicrous to have a “favorite band” – it's akin to having a “best friend”.  When you reach a certain age it becomes less important to rank different aspects of something you enjoy.  It's like when someone asks what my favorite color is - “I don't know – Jets green?  Periwinkle?  Can't I like several colors a lot??”

Then today I found myself messaging a friend whose band headlined over AC/DC in the 70's.  As I pumped him for information about the late Bon Scott, I added, “you know AC/DC are my favorite band, right?”  And he responded, “Yes, you're always wearing their t-shirts”.
            Mic drop.
            Well yeah but I have a Lemmy/Motörhead  tattoo and...
            Damnit AC/DC are my favorite band.

When I tell people how much I love the band, they immediately start singing “You Shook Me All Night Long” or “Back in Black” in the Brian Johnson throat-ripping scream.  I love, love Jonno – but there always will be a special place in my heart for Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott.  To me, he was the epitome of what every real rock star should aspire to.  His lyrics had that intelligent but sly sexiness without having to come out and say anything pornographic (Hello “The Weekend” - take notes).  Just look up the lyrics for “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” for example:
You got problems in your life of love
You got a broken heart
He's double dealin' with your best friend
That's when the teardrops start, fella
Pick up the phone
I'm here alone
Or make a social call
Come right in
Forget about him
We'll have ourselves a ball

Maybe Bon was a bit obsessed with nutsacks because I would be remiss if I left out the hilarious pun filled “Big Balls” from the same album:
And my balls are always bouncing
My ballroom always full
And everybody comes and comes again
If your name is on the guest list
No one can take you higher
Everybody says I've got great balls of fire!

If anyone else had come out with lyrics like that they'd be laughable.  But it so suits Bon. 

It wasn't all about that though, Bon was the rock star for the every-man.  “Down Payment Blues” is a clever wordplay about the dichotomy of being an internationally renowned rock star but still being broke as fuck.
Sitting on my sailing boat
Sipping off my champagne
Suzy baby all at sea
Say she want to come again
Feeling like a paper cup
Floating down a storm drain
Got myself a sailing boat
But I can't afford a drop of rain

I was too young to see Bon Scott perform in concert, but I poured over VHS tapes, then later DVD's and of course now the wonderful world of Youtube.  Maybe it was the era but he just seemed so free of rock star bullshit, even in the interviews.  There's one from the “Let There Be Rock” movie- where the interviewer tells Bon his band mates said he was special, you could tell Bon is genuinely embarrassed and plays it off with a joke.

The thing I love most about Bon is something I also admire very much about Lemmy – they actually lived the life, they weren't full of shit.  The main difference of course being that Bon succumbed to the lifestyle at the age of 33 where – by sheer will I'm guessing – Lemmy lived to the ripe old age of 70. 

Maybe Bon had said all he had to say? Maybe he just needed to pave the way for honest, simple rock n roll bands like AC/DC to come through and rule the charts after the pretentiously keyboard laden prog rock reign of the 70's? No one can answer these questions.  But we will always have the iconic image of Bon, with his impossibly tight flare leg jeans and denim vest, opened to show his hairy barrel chest as he belted out another song from the very depths of his core, a sly smile on his face and a wink in his eye.


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