Lead singer Conor Oberst told Rolling Stone magazine that this song is about being as present as you can. In the May 3, 2007 issue, he said: "In the past I've been obsessed with things that have already happened, are going to happen or might happen. And I've gotten used to the fact that there seems to always be someplace I'd rather be."
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.