The song's title is taken from a book called In The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, which is about a Nantucket ship that the story of Moby Dick came from.
Frontman Dave King told Alternative Press magazine: "You hear old sailors saying, 'You never take the sea for granted.' I feel the same way about life. It's a song about being aware of your surroundings and treating them with respect, because they can always chew you up and spit you out."
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.