You always saw Angus. With his schoolboy uniform and flashy solos, it was kind of impossible to miss him. Or you saw the singer–first Bon, then Brian–all raspy voices, tight jeans, and leering smiles. It didn’t matter which one it was; they were eerily interchangeable. If you were a certain type of fan, you’d watch the drummer at the back. But you almost never saw Malcolm on stage. He was always there, usually just to the singer’s left, bobbing away to the beat and strumming his guitar. Your attention would always be on the flashy exterior, never really realizing that the heart of AC/DC was pounding away unnoticed.
Malcolm Young might not have been responsible for the image AC/DC projected to its fans, but he was largely responsible for their sound. He co-wrote most of the songs you sing along with as they blare from your radio. When it was announced in 2014 that he was permanently retiring from the band because of dementia, family and fans knew it was just a matter of time. That time came a couple days ago when Malcolm left this plane at just 64. He left behind some truly kick ass music. It won’t change the fact that he was too young to go, but at least it gives everyone something to hold on to.
The title of this song is how I felt just a few moments ago when I read that founding band member Malcolm Young is permanently retiring from AC/DC because of dementia. I don’t know how advanced his illness is, although the band has recorded and will soon release an album without him. While Malcolm was never the character his brother Angus was, he helped fill out AC/DC’s sound, making them one of the toughest and tightest Hard Rock bands ever.
I can’t imagine how Malcolm and his family must be feeling right now. The idea of losing my faculties and memory so completely is terrifying to me. Dementia is one of the Big Scary Diseases. I do crossword puzzles partly because I like words, and partly because I heard they can help ward off dementia. I think I’ll start doing them a lot more now.
Malcolm Young isn’t all that young anymore, but he’s not that old either, only 61. That’s too young to be losing pieces of yourself that way. As a Buddhist, I know I should be more enlightened and remember that we are all part of the whole, that the individual self is merely an illusion. But in a way, that terrifies me even more. Every little part of himself that Malcolm loses is also a part of me. Forgetting is frightening. Oh, I’ve forgotten lots of small things–phone messages, doing chores, etc. And I’ve forgotten some big ones (there’s a lot of novels, stories, and poems I could’ve written if not for the ideas I’ve forgotten). But to lose chunks of your life . . . to lose people and experiences wholesale . . . to forget the little talismans and rituals that represent your existence. That thought makes me shudder.
I wish the entire Young family luck and peace during this time. And I hope Malcolm keeps the part of himself that remembers how loved he is forever.