There are few things in life that affect our emotions as music can. Music can help cheer you up and cause you to feel sad. Music can be relaxing and help you unwind after a long day. A song can transport you back in time in an instant, to a specific moment in a specific place. The impression it leaves upon us is quite amazing. As Homer wrote in the Illiad, “Noble and manly music invigorates the spirit, strengthens the wavering man, and incites him to great and worthy deeds.” The right music can get you pumped and fired up for a run, a workout, or the “big game.” And this is what ‘Thunderstruck’ does.

The internet and YouTube are full of videos showing military hardware kicking ass and taking names, set to rock music. After watching that, you can’t help but get inspired. It makes you almost want to yell, “sign me up!” The emotional responses to things like this are real. The mental and psychological responses to the music, are very real. In real-life combat, that can be a good thing. Being mentally prepared and in the right headspace is essential.

For a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman, music on deployment is important. It was a way to wind you up, or an attempt to help wind you down. It was also an escape. For me, sometimes the escape was in popping in the earphones and turning the music up, lights off, and private time in my rack. Other times, the escape was in the camaraderie as a group, listening to the same songs together.

Other times, it was about blasting music for the whole world to hear.


Big Speakers on Humvees

PsyOps Humvee with loudspeakers
PsyOps Humvee with loudspeakers in crowded city streets. (Photo by Sgt. 1st. Class Donald R. Dunn II/U.S. Army)

At one particular remote firebase in Afghanistan, we didn’t just have music all to ourselves. Oh, no, my friend. You see, we liked to share our music. Especially… with the Taliban and other Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF). They hate music. All music. Just about any kind of music, especially if they deem it as “blasphemous” or “indecent.” Which, again, is pretty much just about everything. Since we knew they hated music, we made sure they had music to hear whenever we could. After all, sharing is caring. And everyone likes to share good music with one another.

Having a Psychological Operations (PsyOps) unit, attached to the Civil Affairs (CA) unit, attached to the Special Forces and Advisor unit, had certain advantages. One of them was a big freaking speaker on top of a Humvee. We could make announcements to share important information to a village, for example. Or, we could tell those little ACF boneheads to drop their guns, come out of the compound, or we will bring the whole dag-gone thing down on their heads.

All from the safety and distance from our trucks.

Or, as also mentioned previously, we could play music. Where. Ever. We. Went.

One of my favorite applications of this worthwhile and useful piece of government equipment, was to play music — loudly — as we rolled out of the gates of our firebase. Leaving on patrol or for a mission, with speakers blasting on the way out of the gates, did work those psychological wonders. We liked to call it, our “War Song.” Or our “Time-To-Go-To-War Song.”

The mental and emotional stimulation and psychological reaction, worked every time. Yes, it was all a bit Pavlovian, perhaps. Meh. But who cares. Right?


You’ve Been… Thunderstruck

apache helicopter firing rockets
An Apache attack helicopter of the Army Air Corps in Afghanistan fires rockets at insurgents during a patrol in 2008. (DoD)

I think with that section title I just gave away the rest of my piece. I just temporarily gave you the ability to see into the future. Your future prediction… would be absolutely correct. Our favorite war song is now going to become your favorite war song, too. I would also bet it’s bringing a smile to your face — a big ol’ poop-eating grin. Maybe even a little chuckle as you make the connection.

You can probably already hear the music playing in your head… the unmistakable guitar riff introduction that starts right from the beginning. The light, quick, drum beat, steadily marking time at 134 beats per minute (BPM) in the background. By now, you have probably already started tapping your feet to the beat, or your fingers on your keyboard. And you can even hear the backup vocals start to sing in your head…

The big bass drum pounds hard. “Thunder!”

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The guitar riff and 134 beats per minute continue, but now with more drums. The big bass drum pounds out the exclamation: “Thunder!”

Another big blast of the bass drum: “Thunder!” And now the baseline starts.

More drums. More bass. More guitar. More background vocals. More “Thunder!”

After just the first 60 seconds, you can’t help but WANT to go out and blow stuff up. In just a few short seconds, we were ready to go out and pick a fight with the ACF just for kicks and giggles. Just because. I mean, after that intro, why wouldn’t you? You feel like you could go out and do it all by yourself. Rolling out the gates with that song blasting for the entire country to hear… “Ready or not. Here we come.”


‘Thunderstruck’ Is The Best War Song ever

Thunderstruck by AC/DC, is highly motivating. And the Taliban freaking hated it. I bet those jokers knew what it meant, too. That probably made them hate it even more. [insert little emoji here with a wink and his tongue sticking out]


Can you imagine what that would be like on their end, knowing what’s coming with a song like that announcing your arrival? Talk about a “presence patrol.”

Next time you need some motivation, press play on this bad boy. Make it your “war song.” Put in your headphones, or crank up your car stereo. Big presentation at work? Blast this song before you start. Boss giving you a hard time? Smash that play button. Walking into some dumb freaking meeting at work with the bozos and “bright idea fairies?” Just play this song once or twice, and then go in there like a boss and own them.

Thunderstruck is the best war song. Ever.

If you disagree, you should know Thunderstruck is playing right now in my headphones, I’m ready for a fight.

Bring it.