This analysis come out of a discussion I had with Johnny B about which AC/DC song was the best. He went with “Back in Black” and I with “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

Right off of the bat I have to say that I am not a real AC/DC fan. Sure, I love the “Back in Black” record but back in 1980 what 14 year old didn’t? I also have a bunch of their other hits but I never got into buying all of their CDs. Still, I want to give you my analysis of what makes this, their greatest song, so great. I’m really just examining the lyrics. I’ll leave it to a musician to wax poetic about the music and the guitar licks. So here we go:

“She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean”

To start the song AC/DC compares a woman to a fast car and a clean one at that (for all of you obsessive compulsives out there). Thus we are introduced to the single most important concept in the song and the concept that rules the album. The double entendre. As describes it: “an ambiguity with one interpretation that is indelicate”. A classic Rock ‘n Roll pairing and a classic Rock ‘n Roll double entendre. You can’t go wrong with “girl as car”. Power to the people!

“She was the best damn woman that I had ever seen”

Straight out declaration. AC/DC lets us know that they are not trying just to be clever with their double entendres and that they’ll hit you with the gospel truth when they need too (see the video for Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” for a song where the band is trying to being clever but, boy, are they mistaken).

“She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies”

This is the one line in the song that I had wrong. Until I read the lyrics (just yesterday) I always thought that they said “She had it cyclized” meaning she was a as machine on a cycle, unstoppable. The things one learns 25 years later after the internet is invented to look up song lyrics. Remember the days when you had to guess? Not every album came with a lyric sheet.

Someone is going to have to tell me what is meant by “sightless eyes” because it’s new to me. But I do know that our singer can relax because the woman offers no deception. What a dream!

Alright, I’m sorry. That was a cheap shot at the opposite sex. I can’t help that I’m a trouble maker. It’s a disease. Or genetic, take your pick.

“Knocking me out with those American thighs”

That’s the money line. The most important word being “American”. Besides pandering to the world’s largest music market it called on the USA’s reputation in the world for being bigger, bolder and filled with a “can do” spirit. Who doesn’t want to get knocked out by thighs like that. Songs don’t usually even mention thighs.

“Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air”

Now he is losing himself in her. Not in a lovey dovey staring into her eyes kinda way but losing himself in their raw sexuality as she takes from him whatever she wants regardless of his well being.

“She told me to come
But I was already there”

Again double entendre and even more blatant. He loses total control to this woman. And likes it.

“Cause the walls start shaking
The earth was quaking
My mind was aching
And we were making it
And you shook me all night long.”

The Chorus. AC/DC starts us off with some classic “baby, you made the earth move” stuff then struts into “You’re blowing my mind up” territory and after that back to the single entendre about making it all night long. A little something for everyone is in the chorus.

“Working double time
On the seduction line”

Now, here is where the song breaks into brilliant new ground. These two lines are a single entendre disguised as a double entendre. There are no two meanings here. The first line leads you to believe that a double entendre is to follow but it doesn’t. Just a single entendre does. It makes the listener feel smart and included. Good stuff, what?

“She was one of a kind
She’s just mine all mine”

The straight dope to make the listener feel he is right there beside the singer. This is a “we are all in this together having a good time” line. Join the party. Kind of the opposite of what the line actually says. AC/DC is twisting it all around on us.

“She wanted no applause
Just another course
Made a meal out of me
And came back for more”

We have already had a car reference, so how about some food? More classic stuff comparing our appetite for food to our more lustful appetites. Plus it mentions that she shuns applause so we know it is not her own ego she is trying to satisfy but something more pure and shiny. Goodness and badness all rolled into one.

“Had to cool me down
To take another round
Now I’m back in the ring
To take another swing”

We finish up with a little violence to add to our sex. But the violence is made non-threatening towards the women by not only having her winning the boxing match but just by making it a boxing match. Boxing is a competitive sport and who can get offended at a sport? Thus we can have our cake and eat it too. Violence with a women without making it violence towards a woman.

There you have it. Classic allusions, sex, violence, cars, food, a single entendre masquerading as a double and lots of rhymes. People dig rhymes. You get more than you asked for with this song. Around every corner is a tasty new lyrical dish. The best AC/DC song.

As a final thought I have to go with “You Shook Me All Night Long” as the superior song over “B in B” because it is much harder to sell to Madison Avenue for them to use in a car commercial.