It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll), and Australian hard rock band AC/DC spent much of the 1970s building their profile. They cracked the big time with 1979’s Highway to Hell, which peaked at #17 on the US charts after none of their previous records had made the top 100. As success beckoned, tragedy struck – vocalist Bon Scott passed out in a car on his way home from a night of carousing and was pronounced dead the next evening.
AC/DC hadn’t yet reached their commercial zenith when they recorded 1977’s Let There Be Rock, but it’s one of their most beloved albums. ‘Carry Me Home’ was a b-side from the era; initially released on the flip side to the Australian single of ‘Dog Eat Dog’, it was extremely rare until it was included on the 2000 compilation Backtracks.
‘Carry Me Home’ suits the b-side format – it’s a good song, but it’s looser than AC/DC’s usual taut riffing. This impression is amplified by Scott’s theatrical vocal – on a song about a night of drinking, his vocal becomes more slurred over the course of the song.
Distubingly, ‘Carry Me Home’ foretells the story of Scott’s 1980 demise. Recorded in 1976, it’s the story of a night of drinking – midway through, Scott sings “I’m bleary eyed and you’re waiting for the sunshine to come and kill me”. The song culminates with the line “And you’re getting up and leaving, you think I’m gonna drown”. This mirrors Scott’s conjectured cause of death as pulmonary aspiration of vomit; asphyxiating on vomit has been compared to drowning. Scott passed away after he was left in a car overnight – things may have worked out better if he’d actually been carried home.
AC/DC considered breaking up after losing Scott, but Scott’s parents encouraged them to continue and they carried on with Brian Johnson on lead vocals. The group enjoyed huge success with Johnson’s debut – 1980’s Back in Black was a sales phenomenon that went 22x platinum in the US. In hindsight, however, Bon Scott records like Let There Be Rock and Powerage are generally reckoned as among the band’s best.