All during Music Week at Deadspin, I'll be writing about great asskicking songs of yore. Today, it's "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC.
The riff they use in "Whole Lotta Rosie" is the oldest guitar riff in the history of the universe. It's the original blues riff, the one Bo Diddley made famous in 1955 with "I'm A Man," and the one stolen by countless artists throughout history, most notably by Thorogood for "Bad to the Bone". Only on "Whole Lotta Rosie," Malcolm Young takes that riff and speeds it up like a motherfucker, making a bed out of it for Angus Young to then jump up and down on until it breaks.
The final three minutes of this song are basically one giant guitar solo (a final chorus is thrown in for posterity). If some other band did that, it would be self-indulgent and annoying. But when AC/DC does it, it's the greatest thing ever.
Young even makes his guitar bust a nut. No joke. Go to the 4:58 mark. That's an orgasm. Angus is playing faster and faster and harder and harder and then suddenly, right at that mark, he releases, right into all 266 lbs. (19 stone) of Rosie. Then the song ends quickly afterwards and the band is sneaking out the window and running away from Rosie's place as fast as fucking possible.
In fact, the entire song plays out like a sexual encounter conducted in real time. There's a bit of charm up front from Bon Scott, then Scott expresses surprise at Rosie's prowess in the sack, then the talking stops and it's all hard-pumping guitar action the rest of the way, right up until Angus skeets all over the joint. Five minutes, twenty-five seconds, start to finish. No pussyfooting around.
"Whole Lotta Rosie" is about having sex with an obese woman. It's based on a real encounter with a fat gal Scott nailed somewhere along the line, before drinking himself to death. And while it's a funny song on the surface of things, there's little doubt that the song conveys the sheer, unbridled joy that Scott experienced while having sex with Rosie. That's what I like about the song. Rosie ain't exactly small, but goddamn it she's an animal in bed. Having sex with Rosie is a fucking BLAST, and the song has absolutely no shame about it. In fact, Bon is bragging about it to anyone who'll listen. Rosie's no joke. Taken that way, the song isn't mean to oversized women. It's worshipful. And that's cool, because plenty of men (myself included) like a lady who ain't no skin and bone. Rosie's a REAL woman, who knows exactly how to get you off in five minutes flat. She deserves to be immortalized in song.
I grew up with the Brian Johnson version of AC/DC. "Back in Black" was the first album of theirs I ever listened to, and then listened to again and again and again. So while Scott was the band's original vocalist, I didn't get familiar with him until I knew the Brian Johnson version of the band. He was always the second vocalist in my memory, which is completely backwards. His was the voice that sounded weird and out of place.
Now I'm all grown up and it's clearer now that Scott was the true AC/DC frontman. He was much dirtier than Johnson. MUCH dirtier. All you have to do is hear Scott sing three notes and you know immediately he's a drunk who'll bang anything that comes across his path. That's pretty much exactly what you want out of your AC/DC frontman. Scott makes being a sleazebag sound like the greatest thing ever, and "Whole Lotta Rosie" is his, and the band's masterwork. You'll never bang a skinny girl again.