Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Highway to headlining

If you’ve spent any time in church you have probably heard Bob Dylan or The Beatles cited in a sermon. The Answer is Blowing in the Wind (of the Holy Spirit), All You Need is (God’s) Love, that sort of thing. AC/DC references are not so likely, unless they are part of an invitation to a record-burning in the parking lot.

But I have to admit that whenever I hear or see something of the veteran rockers, a Bible verse does come to mind. And no, it’s not the one prescribing the narrow road instead of the band’s infamous “Highway to Hell.”

I caught a glimpse of a recent-ish AC/DC live show on television, not long ago. A huge, huge crowd was going bonkers as the grandlads—my definition of male musicians popular with audiences the age of their children’s children—chugged their way through their greatest hits. First I marveled that singer Brian Johnson can still strip paint off walls with his voice after more than three decades, and then I remembered meeting him briefly long before he came to fame with AC/DC.

He was then the lead singer with a band that was opening for the main act I really wanted to see as an avid teenage concert-goer in Manchester, England. All I knew of Geordie—taking their name from the one given to people from the north-eastern Newcastle (pronounced “Noo-Assell) area—was that they’d had one single that had tickled the charts.

To say the turnout this evening was thin would be generous. In a small bar low numbers are not so discouraging, as it tends to be dark and you can kid yourself that you can’t see into the furthest corners from the stage, where more people may be lurking. In a proper, medium-sized theater such as the venue in question, when you come on and realize that everyone in attendance is sitting on the front row and it still has empty seats, this could be deflating.

The absence didn’t seem to faze Geordie, however. They rattled through a blistering set, and finished by inviting everyone back into the dressing room to chat. There were so few of us that it wasn’t even a squeeze. The pouty headliner, by contrast, came on later and went through the contractual motions, looking at those of us who had showed up with the sort of disdain that really should have been saved for everyone else who had stayed home.

In the following years, Geordie’s singer—now a sort of almost-neighbor in Florida, living a couple of hours away—was tapped by the rest of AC/DC to replace the late Bon Scott, of course, and has graduated to packed stadiums.

I’m not suggesting divine approval of the AC/DC heavy metal catalog—even numbers like “Are You Ready” and “Who Made You” should not be mistaken for metaphysical musings. But whenever I catch one of their songs I do think back on Brian Johnson’s example of paying your dues and see something of a biblical example. I tip my own cap to him, and point you to Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”

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