Aussie hard rockers AC/DC formed in 1973, but 2015 may be one of their best years yet. They are slated to headline Coachella next week and, as a tribute to their greatness, we’ve gathered reflections on their music from four guests we have hosted on the show over the years – comedian Marc Maron, chef Jon Shook, director Paul Feig and professional athlete Shaun White. Last but not least, Jason Bentley offers his personal favorite.
- Marc Maron - "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"
- Jon Shook - "Thunderstruck"
- Paul Feig - "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)"
- Shaun White - "Back in Black"
- Jason Bentley - "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Jason Bentley: Aussie hard rockers AC/DC formed in 1973, but it’s looking like 2015 may be one of their best years yet.
They opened the Grammy telecast this year and are slated to headline Coachella next week.
As a tribute to their greatness, we’ve gathered reflections on their music from 4 guests we’ve hosted over the years for this special edition of the guest dj project hosted by me, Jason Bentley.
First up, comedian Marc Maron.
Marc Maron: This is "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be." I would have hated myself if I didn't include AC/DC. First of all, I do not think there is enough AC/DC on KCRW. I think some part of me is doing this as a direct reaction to Morning Becomes Eclectic. There is some part of me that just wanted to pound on that door.
I saw AC/DC when I was in high school. Journey was opening for AC/DC and sadly I went to see Journey. I'm a little ashamed about that. But that was the first time I saw AC/DC. Bon Scott was still alive.
I didn't know what I was seeing or listening to. The consistency of these guys and their ability to rock hard is amazing. And it's clean too. We're not talking about metal or anything confusing. Angus Young plays very sweet, lyrical beautiful blues and country riffs in the middle of this pounding crunch of his brother's guitar. There's has a drive to it. Bon Scott was so dirty, and it was so crass. It was just pure dirty to me.
To this day, more so than most other music to just blow out energy, I will listen to AC/DC. This is not necessarily my favorite AC/DC song but I thought it was representative of what AC/DC is. I just wanted the lyrics to be a representation of what they were [about] without being too specific. The devil is in it, and hell. I just had this feeling in the earlier part of my life you're like, "I'm going to hell man! Hell is going to be great!" So this is the song.
Song: “Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be”
JB: Our second selection is from award-winning chef Jon Shook.
He co-owns a handful of highly acclaimed and innovative restaurants across LA.
For him, AC/DC represents his journey to success.
Jon Shook: I got AC/DC "Thunderstruck" -- which actually, believe it or not doesn't remind me anything of cooking, it reminds me of ice hockey. I didn't really have too much of a strong family relationship with my parents growing up and that was one thing that I really bonded with my dad over was ice hockey. I remember telling my dad that I was going to go to culinary school driving to an ice hockey game and he was like ‘what are you?’ And I was like ‘No dad, seriously, I want to cook. And he was like ‘alright, well, you know, I'm a little worried about this’ and then he went into this whole speech about ‘if you're not in the top 5% of the art field in your career then you're nothing.’ And he was always really hard on me, so whenever I hear that song it kind of reminds me of my Dad and the roads that I traveled to get to where I am now.
JB: Up next, director Paul Feig – who was behind the hit comedy Bridesmaids and the forthcoming Ghostbusters remake.
He says the band was a gamechanger for him as a teenager, liberating him from the parental shackles of talk radio.
PF: I’m now going to play an AC/DC song for you.
That song is called, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”
I really like AC/DC. I’m from Detroit originally. Born in ’62 and was in high school through the ‘70s and college in the ‘80s, and so we were all fell victim to a lot of heavy rock, your Led Zeppelins and all that.
But AC/DC always stood out for me because I was always sort of afraid of Led Zeppelin, even though I loved them, because they were so mystical and there was something scary about them a little bit, like they might come and sacrifice your cat or something.
Whereas AC/DC would crack me up because I think they have, what I consider to be the greatest concept in rock and roll history, which is that Angus Young, the lead guitarist, dresses like a school boy and wears a tie and a little jacket and shorts and runs around the stage and he still does it today, and they’re in his late ‘50s.
For some reason, there is something so aesthetically fantastic about that to me because it’s this weird mix of this kind of- they’re playing this crazy rock ‘n’ roll music but, rock in some ways is such a kid’s form of art.
The first time you just get to go nuts -- like, I grew up in a house with sorta older parents, and my father I swear never listened to music, ever. I swear it was always like the news, or talk radio in his car. I don’t think he ever put one note of music through his car radio.
So, the first time I heard AC/DC and the Ramones and music like that, I was like, a kid, or a young teen, and it was this injection of energy you get, where this bottled anarchy comes into your life and, especially with older parents, we didn’t hear that music.
There is something so freeing and great about it, they’re just going nuts. And then you go see them and like - oh my god! - he’s dressed like a kid, but he’s out of control and then the rest of them are sort of cool.
For me, it’s almost like a primer into rock ‘n’ roll. And this song, “For Those About to Rock”, which came in like the early 80’s, I just like it because it’s such an anthem-y song. It’s got cannons in it and it’s just so corny and great, and like, a great song! So, I hope you all enjoy it.
Song: “For Those About to Rock”
JB: Our AC/DC tribute continues, with professional snowboarder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
AC/DC has been his good luck charm and helps him get in the zone before competitions.
SW: It was 2006 and I was on my way to my first Olympics. I was 19 and they played this song at the first qualifying event for the Olympics and I won. Wow, what a cool, you know, song. That was great - we should play that again for the next event. And I won again.
And then I was like OK, we HAVE to play this song, you know. And so now, it’s more of a trigger for me. Like, I don’t even hear a song. I hear, like, a gun at a horse race, you know what I mean? It’s like you’re in the starting gate.
It puts me immediately back in that mind set no matter where I am when I hear this song.
It’s like this swell of energy and this kind of like laser focus of whatever I’m doing.
I immediately kind of feel this horribly nervous excitement, you know what I mean? It’s like a horribly great feeling. It’s one of those things.
Song: “Back in Black”
JB: Finally, i have to pick my personal favorite – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.
I picked this one because, when I was a kid, my cousin Chris and I used to listen to this and we were endlessly amused by Angus Young’s onstage antics.
And there’s just something about this song. It’s all about a fixer. You know, a guy with a criminal record who is going to fix your problems, get, you know, revenge on someone, so these are all dirty deeds done dirt cheap.
This album also features, on the flip side, the classic “Big Balls”, which is another personal favorite. But, I guess it just takes me back to a time and place of innocence, where rock and roll was a glimpse to the other side of the tracks, and felt dangerous, and felt cool.
And that’s why I love this tune by AC/DC, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.
Song: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”