The song tells the story of a do-anything tough guy who is more than willing to use his muscle to take care of your problems for a nominal fee. Are you “havin' trouble with the high-school head?” Struggling with a lover who’s “double dealin' with your best friend?” Maybe you’ve “got a lady and you want her gone” – well then, this is the man you need to call.
When it came to lyrics, the band lifted a couple of ideas from television.
“It was Angus that came up with the song title – 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,'" rhythm guitarist Malcolm Youngrecalled in 1992. “It was based on a cartoon character [Beany and Cecil's Dishonest John] that had the phrase as his calling card. Then Bon stuck in the line ‘I’m dirty, mean, mighty unclean’ from an advert for mosquito spray that was running on Aussie TV at the time.” (The latter line was actually used in an earlier AC/DC single, "T.N.T.")
“There’s not much seriousness in it,” added guitarist Angus Young, agreeing with Scott. “It’s just rock ’n’ roll. Chew it up and spit it out.”