Back in Black is one of the most recognizable tracks out of AC/DC’s 1980 album of the same name, and is also notable for being the band’s tribute song to their former vocalist Bon Scott, who died of acute alcohol poisoning earlier in the year.
The lyrics were written by his replacement, Brian Johnson, who was asked by the band to ensure that the lyrics be a celebration instead of a morbid remembrance. Which led Brian to pen lyrics that he described as “mumbo jumbo”. And it worked. Nine Lives, Cats eyes, Abusing every one of them and running wild” does not have any deep connotation. It was just fun to sing and fun to listen to. Exactly the same attitude that Bon Scott had with performing when he was alive.
As far as the backbone of the song, Back in Black represents AC/DC’s trademark sound: straightforward, no frills hard rock serving as an antithesis to the pompous art rock and overly complicated arena rock that became prevalent during the early 80s. The power chord-backed riffs are tense and aggressive, without being too self-conscious.
Clocking in at 4 minutes and featuring a guitar solo that’s superlatively played yet didn’t overstay its welcome, Back in Black doesn’t require a lot of commitment to enjoy, making it one of the first songs you should check out if you want to sample the best that the Hard Rock genre has on offer, but don’t want to be buried under too much genre baggage.