Angus Young Says He Came Up with ‘Highway to Hell’ on the Toilet
Angus Young is immortal in the rock world, but even rock gods’ minds wander when they’re on the toilet. Of course, we regular folk usually don’t end up writing rock classics as a result.
Angus revealed in a new interview with Zane Lowe (as transcribed by Kerrang!) that he came up with the lyrics for “Highway to Hell” when he took a bathroom break during the recording of the album of the same title. After Angus walked brother Malcolm Young through the song’s iconic opening riff and backbeat, Malcolm asked Angus if he had any lyrics.
“I said, ’Okay, give me a few minutes,'” said Angus. “And I went to the toilet, and then I was in the toilet and I was there and I’m sitting and thinking. And I’m just sitting on the throne more or less. And then I go, ’I think I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got the idea in my head.'”
Angus continued, “And then I came in there and I said, ’I’ve got it. Highway to hell.’ And I was over the chords that we had tried out through a chorus. And he went, ’Yeah, that’ll work.’ And he said, ’If we spread it out a bit into full singing thing.’ So he came up with a spread of it, ‘(Singing) Highway to hell.'”
Angus’ toilet tale is one of the latest stories about musicians coming up with song ideas while in the bathroom. Back in November, Heartbreakers/Fleetwood Mac guitarist Mike Campbell, who co-wrote Don Henley hit song “The Heart of the Matter,” said he came up with the song while sitting on the toilet.
Campbell said, “There’s a guitar everywhere [in my home.] Everywhere I sit, I can reach over and pick up a guitar. And even, you may want to cut this out. I’m gonna be really honest with you. ‘Heart of the Matter’…I got up. I sat on the toilet first thing in the morning. I had a guitar on the wall, and I was half asleep, and I just went [strums opening chords].”
Campbell added, “The songs, the body stuff all comes out together at the same time. You have to have the instrument nearby, or even driving in the car sometimes you have to pull the car over. ‘Cause, you know, these things come and it’s a gift. It’s magic, and it’s mysterious, and I, for one, can’t just turn the switch on. It turns itself on. And you just have to obey it.”
So, what lesson did we learn today? You should always be prepared for when inspiration strikes, even when going to the bathroom.