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Chicagoetry: Life With Bon Scott


"Powerage." I didn't know it at the time,
But it was


I was in high school, attending Naperville's "Last Fling"
Labor Day carnival. Steel dinosaurs trampled the muddy grass
In Knoch Park. I was waiting in line at the Tilt-a-Whirl.
The ride was run by a grizzled, burly man with tattoos,
Years before they were chic, and then common.
With a pony-tail, years before
They were chic, and then common.

The music assaulted us from large, ground-level speakers
At this most daunting of rides for the average suburban
Teenager. I was transfixed, mute, flummoxed. My ass
Was being kicked beyond recognition. "Man, this sounds like
The Stones!" Two guitars slicing their way through the pocket,
Four hands playing one guitar. The voice, reptilian, like
A crocodile gnashing its fangs, shrieking its way through
A bad acid trip.

Now I know: it was
"Powerage," on 8-Track.

"Gimme a bullet to bite on, something to chew.
Gimme a bullet to bite on,
And I'll make believe,
I'll make believe

It's you."

Got up the nerve to ask the carny who, what, It was.
"AC/DC . . . " So when they came to Rockford Fairgrounds
The following summer ('79), for a July 4th festival, and Cesare
Got us work at the soft drink stands there, we made the
Pilgrimage. "Concessions" meant BACKSTAGE. We did have
To work for it. As we slung Cokes and Fantas to the pressing
Lemmings, once again I felt the low-end violence to my soul.
AC/DC was onstage. "I'm out of here!" I vowed, and stepped outside
To see Angus atop the left speaker column, a shirtless peanut
Monkey shot up on speed, shredding his strings and flailing his
Hair, hundreds of feet above the ground.

Unprecedented. At eighteen, I was a concert veteran. But this was
Unprecedented. Lean, ripped, coiled, burnished burgeoning ballistic
Grooves. Fuck the Babys and, frankly, fuck Cheap Trick. This was
Blistered blues from Holy Hell, lockjawed onto my shrivelled,
Squirelly nuts. Concession=BACKSTAGE. Dear Jesus! Here comes
Angus! "My man! A photo?" No sweat. He was even shorter than me
And that's short. The single most pleasant and sweet-faced rock star
I've ever met. "Concession?" he said in his Scottish (not Australian)
Brogue, seeing my t-shirt. "Yeah, we're selling Cokes . . .
Man, you sure sweat a lot!" He let Cesare take a picture of me with
Him. Cheap Trick was too cool for photos. Chumps.

Later that year, they were at the Aragon. Tuma and I
Drove up from Illinois State, straight to Broadway and Lawrence.
You could see Bon's crank through his jeans from the balcony.
When Angus fell down to spin his way through a solo,
He left a thick sheen of hot sweat on the stage. When he took to his
Roadie's shoulders to solo his way through the crowd, they came up
To the balcony, and as they passed behind me, I gently patted Angus'
Sweaty, zitty back. Center stage: Bon. Acid Crocodile, Preening
Ringmaster, Fang-Tooth Shaman. Bigger records and bigger halls
Loomed as he achieved his Inevitable Hell, and I was there, too,
But if you were tuned in then, you got a chance to get a genuine fang

Scar burnt permanently onto your roiling, ever-teenage brain,
But good.


J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


Posted on October 27, 2008

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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