The Meaning of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”

AC/DC live in 1981. Photo by Koh Hasebe.

AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” is one of the Australian band’s later hits, first appearing on their 1990 album The Razors Edge, but it has nonetheless become a staple in their collection of hard rock anthems. With a rising musical intensity, the lyrics describe the sudden end of a relationship followed by a bender in the heart of Texas.

In the first verse, Brian Johnson sings of being “Thunderstruck”, with images of being caught on railroad tracks with nowhere to go. He looks to his former partner for help, and they are nowhere to be seen. He knows that he’s all alone, and that train is going to hit him.

To me, this verse describes an immediate and final breakup that comes unexpectedly, which some might say would hit you like a train. This is exactly what AC/DC are singing about in “Thunderstruck”, which “the thunder of guns” representing an emotional storm that follows this kind of sudden breakup.

I was caught
In the middle of a railroad track (thunder)
I looked ’round
And I knew there was no turning back (thunder)
My mind raced
And I thought, what could I do? (Thunder)
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you (thunder)
Sound of the drums
Beating in my heart
The thunder of guns
Tore me apart
You’ve been
Thunderstruck

First verse to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.

The second verse depicts Johnson coping with the sudden breakup by filling the void the only way that rock stars know how: going on an absolute bender down in Texas. The lyrics tell of driving with a few of your boys, ignoring the speed limit, and going off the rails.

This represents a different kind of “Thunderstruck”, perhaps one having to do with the effects of cocaine or speed, or the excitement that one feels during a wild night of partying. During this night of partying, there is a run-in with some professional women who are apparently very good at what they do, leaving Johnson “shaking at the knees” and asking if he can come again.

Rode down the highway
Broke the limit, we hit the town
Went through to Texas, yeah, Texas, and we had some fun
We met some girls
Some dancers who gave a good time
Broke all the rules
Played all the fools
Yeah, yeah, they, they, they blew our minds
And I was shaking at the knees
Could I come again, please?
Yeah, them ladies were too kind
You’ve been
Thunderstruck, thunderstruck
Yeah, yeah, yeah, thunderstruck
Ooh, thunderstruck, yeah

Second verse to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.

AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” was released as the lead single from The Razors Edge, and is one of the only songs from the post Back in Black (post Bon Scott) era that are considered part of the band’s main repertoire. Watch the music video below.

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