Alicia Keys recorded this spare piano ballad for the soundtrack album of the film 12 Years a Slave. While the movie was inspired by the true story of Solomon Northrup, an African American freeman from the North who's kidnapped into slavery, Keys sings of the struggle and pain endured by black women during the pre-Civil War period in the US. She focuses in particular on Patsey, a slave girl on the plantation where Northup is taken who endures a series of tragedies. She sings:
"Queen of the field Born among cotton Life wasted picking Ignore the screaming."
Keys highlights that Patsey is the best cotton picker on the plantation.
Angus Young created the distinctive opening guitar part for "Thuderstruck" by playing with all the strings taped up, except the B. He learned the studio trick from his older brother George Young, who was the rhythm guitarist for The Easybeats.