Freaking out

Crocodiles, BB King, horseshoe crabs, cockroaches and Angus Young.
What do they have in common?
All of them have been around for a very long time, and none of them has needed to change with the times.
Why? Because, in evolutionary terms, they hit the nail smartly on the head at a very early stage.


They’ve always been so damn good at what they do – whether that’s ambushing wildebeest in the Masai Mara or kicking out a blistering blues lick – that they’ve stayed rock solid while other less well-adapted creatures have had to re-invent themselves to keep filling their bellies and attracting mates.
Angus Young was barely into his 20s on ‘High Voltage’, AC/DC’s first album released outside Australia, but you can hear his trademark style very clearly on these early tracks.
And, goshdarnit, it’s still going strong more than three decades later.
Like BB King, Angus could never be described as technically ‘flash’ on the frets. Famously, BB can’t sing and play at the same time, and can be heard telling The Edge on U2’s ‘Rattle and Hum’ movie that he ‘don’t do chords’.
But try to re-create his style and tone, and you’re just about guaranteed to fall short – for the same reason that you won’t be able to sing like Tom Waits or play drums like Ringo Starr.
These musicians are freaks, in the true sense of the word. They have a freakish propensity to create music that demands attention, like Lewis Hamilton is freakishly good at driving quickly or David Cameron is freakishly insufferable.
Their sound wallows around for a bit in their soul, then hangs a right through their heart before heading straight for their fingers or voicebox.
As bluesman Willie Dixon put it: “A bad rendition of you is better than a good rendition of somebody else.”
These freaks are few and far between, and we’re privileged just to be allowed to stand and gawp at them.

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