It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)

Album: TNT (1975)
Charted: 55

Songfacts®:

  • This is an autobiographical song for AC/DC describing their struggles as they try to make it big by delivering a top notch live show night after night. It was genuine: at the time they were just getting started and playing some seedy venues with even seedier business associates. The hard work eventually paid off, and several years later the band was selling out arenas.

    "It's A Long Way To The Top" really summed us up as a band," Angus Young told Rolling Stone. It was the audience that really allowed us to even get near a studio.

    A study in contrast is the Boston song "Rock And Roll Band," released in 1976. That song tells the story of a similar struggle, but it was completely made up: Boston was a studio act first and foremost and had immediate success with their first album.
  • According to Bon Scott's biographer Clinton Walker, this tongue-in-cheek song "has become an anthem." It was the band's best single to date reaching #5 in the Australian charts. Heavy metal tracks are usually dominated by ego-tripping guitar solos; this song is unusual because instead of a lengthy guitar solo it features interplay between Angus Young on lead and Bon Scott on the bagpipes. Ronald Belford (Bonnie Scotland) Scott was born in Scotland - as were the Young brothers. The somewhat older Scott arrived in Australia with his family some 11 years before the Youngs emigrated; he learned recorder and drums, and was a proficient bagpipe player.

    The song runs to 5 minutes 15 seconds, which is quite long for a single.
  • The band made a video to promote the single and the album. This was filmed on February 23, 1976 when they rode through the center of Melbourne on an open topped truck accompanied by 3 members of the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band. The most noticeable feature of the video is that the vocalist was really enjoying himself, but, Walker adds, "it's as if Bon acknowledges he's living on borrowed time, and luckily at that." It would not be such a long way to the top for AC/DC, but four years later almost to the day, it would all be over for Bon. On February 19, 1980 he was found dead on the back seat of a car in London, having literally drunk himself to death. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • In 2004, one of the streets in Melbourne near where this video was filmed was renamed "ACDC Lane" in honor of the band. The street was formerly known as Corporation Lane. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joseph - Melbourne, Australia
  • Jack Black and the School of Rock band play a version of this at the end of the movie School of Rock. The interplay is between the singer and all the members of the band. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andrew - Oklahoma City, OK
  • Some Aussies sing the chorus as "It's a long way to the top if you want a sausage roll" or even "Chicko Roll," which is even more Aussie - that's a kind of snack down under. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nady - Adelaide, Australia
  • Country singer Lucinda Williams covered this on her 2008 Little Honey album. She explained to Uncut magazine that the cover was the idea of her manager/co-producer and fiancé Tom Overby. Said Williams: "He thought the album needed an out and out rocker, and I find those hard to write. I didn't even know the song, but Tom got us to try it. I came in at the end of the day, when the band had been rehearsing it, and I was a little resistant, but I drank some wine and gave it a try. We end with it every night now, and people go nuts."

Comments: 10

  • Ethan from Tennessee, United StatesCurrent AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson doesn't perform this song out of respect for Bon Scott, since the song was considered to be Scott's signature song.
  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlLove this song.It just rocks.I even like the bagpipes.Bon Scott era AC/DC was the best,In my opinion.This or Powerage is their best album.
  • Blake from Lancaster, Oh@Bradyn , Melfort, SK: Actually there was a TNT album released before the international High Voltage. It's A Long Way To The Top first appeared on the TNT album. The High Voltage that you are thinking of was their first international album and was a combination of TNT and a different album titled High Voltage.
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandWhy does this site constantly call AC/DC "heavy metal"? They're a hard rock band who's lead guitarist plays distorted blues riffs.
  • Frank from Melbourne, Australiathey sing "it's a long way to the SHOP if you want a saussage roll"
  • Spiro from Bethlehem, PaI have an 8 year daughter who LOVES this song. Everytime we get into my car I have to put in my Bonn Fire cd set and play it for her.

    Bonn Scott is and was the greatest front man. Unfortunately his death put AC-DC over the top.
  • Bradyn from Melfort, SkThe album isn't TNT, that's a song on the album. The album is called High Voltage.
  • Austin from Bristow, VaRock N' Roll ain't no walk in the park. This song says all. Rock on AC/DC.
  • Rachel from St Albert, AbThis song was written by Bon and George.
    Bon would write little ideas in his note book, and George would help him out. He'd even get Malcolm to help. He'd call him over and say "Mal, come bail me out".
  • Mike from Ponoka, AbWhen I Heard This Song.... I Reliezed That Rock 'N'Roll Will Never Die! :)
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