Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cannon Song!!

As I was driving home tonight, caught up in pouring rain and congested holiday commuter traffic, I played some of AC/DC's new archival release Backtracks, consisting of previously unreleased live performances from both the "Bon Scott years" (1974-1979; preferred) and the "Brian Johnson era" (1980-present). The final track on the CD was "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)," which took me back to 1981 when they played Portland's Memorial Coliseum (when it was a grand venue). They were at the height of their popularity and used some of their profits to bring along two large cannons. (The fun starts about 3:50)

As the song played in my car (not turned up to 11, mind you, just a respectable 9 or so), as the cannons kicked in, my mind suddenly flashed back much farther, to when I was a little kid.

I would pull out my favorite album, the 1812 Overture (or, according to the cover, the "Stereo Spectacular") by Tchaikovsky, played by the Morton Gould Orchestra and Band, put it on my parents' living room record player, and stare intently at the bold, vibrant colors of the cover painting while I waited for the cannons to come.

As I prepared for the finale, I would step up on the coffee table, and when the cannons started to go off, I would leap into the air, waving my arms like a madman conductor possessed. Now that was rock 'n' roll!

If you haven't heard this in a while, give this finale a listen (cannons start around 3:15). It's an incredible work.

While a classical music aficionado might turn his or her nose up at such lowbrow rock music, or an AC/DC fan might say that classical is "highfalutin," there is a common word that connects these two works: "Celebratory."



  1. Oh God, I remember this!!!! Not only would you stand on the coffee table, sometimes you would jump OFF the coffee table!

    Flash forward to years later and playing Turandot in Baltimore and David saying, "This is like David Bowie." "Classical" music used to be our rock 'n' roll. Think of Liszt breaking his piano and women throwing their underwear onto the stage!

  2. Funny. Do cannons inspire music or does music inspire cannons? I think it really boils down to people enjoying things that are loud (motorcycles, heavy equipment, rock bands in small venues, fighter jets, and of course girls screaming at you to take your feet off the furniture).