0116: “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” by AC/DC

Is it a good time for bagpipes in a rock song? When isn’t it a good time for bagpipes in a rock song? “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” is the opening track on AC/DC’s second album[1] and it is quintessential straight-up modern rock. Angus Young’s riffs are probably only second to Keith Richards in terms of being recognizable. As soon as you hear an AC/DC track you know exactly what you are going to get: stripped-down, outstanding foot-stomping rock that you can bang your head to, scream the lyrics to, and/or gather on the dance floor at a wedding (god bless rock n’ roll, truly). But what this song really shows is the glaring lack of bagpipes in rock music. I’m not advocating that bagpipes become as common as a keyboard or a tambourine in rock tracks, but the bagpipe is an attention-grabbing instrument. On the hockey podcast I listen to Marek vs. Wyshynski Jeff Marek once said that one of the reasons he loves ’70s rock is because the prevailing philosophy of that decade was basically “But will it work? I don’t know, but try it.” This goes a long way in explaining drum sets the size of a school bus, synthesizers, and concept albums. Will it work? Who knows? But try it. Will a bagpipe work alongside an Angus Young riff? In theory it probably shouldn’t but god love those bastards for trying it because it worked in spades.

[1] The band’s first two albums, High Voltage and T.N.T., were originally only released in Australia. An international version of High Voltage was released a year later, which contains songs from their first two albums.

[Editor’s note: below is the full playlist of hour one.]

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