Apart from their usual brunt tenor, the rock band Nickelback finally created some semblance of classic music in their latest album single simply named 'Photograph'. That is to say that the band, even with the same resonance of past albums and singles, has formulated a tasteful mix of song and music that would otherwise sound trite and frankly annoying.
The criticism should seem harsh to outlay the wholesome qualities of what could be a classic song. This is not a commentary on the band, but a commentary on a piece of music. For the people who enjoy sappy classics, listen to this song because...
The song is introduced by the sound of an acoustic guitar, before Chad Kroeger thrusts the ballad into musical purgatory. The song represents an anthem for leaving or returning home another soundtrack for the lives of a generation of wartime soldiers and students.
As an instance of its classic stature is the song's first stanza, which reads: “Look at this photograph: Every time I do it makes me laugh: How did our eyes get so red: And what the hell is on Joey's head: Every memory of looking out the back door: I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor.”
The expression hits close to home, and it is too simple to ignore. The photograph could be a reminder of that running joke when 'Joey' used a key to break into his high school and tiptoed halfway down the freshman hall until he gained confidence.
He walked butch-like down the hall, gaining a steps of confidence along the way. He did not notice the motion sensor at the edge of the hallway, but he noticed the lights and sirens when he triggered the school's alarm. He ran as fast as ever back down the hall that gave him his confidence.
He was not caught, and he was not wrong or criminal. 'Joey' lived high on his adrenaline that night, peering out the back door red and blue lights until the rising golden sun lulled him to sleep. The next day, a red-eyed battered 'Joey' had the time of his life.
The memory of looking out the back door is not actually in the photo album. Then, maybe the photo album is the memory. Maybe the memory dominates the photo album and represents a life that had to go through it or the front every day and maybe something else, because “the second floor is hard for sneaking out.”
What is the connection between this photograph that makes you laugh and this unknown, fragmented memory of looking out the back door?
In a brief column for Esquire Magazine a few months ago, song writer John Mayer wrote a complement to The Killers for using, in their album single “Mr. Brightside,” a technique that couples two diverging thoughts into one.
Join the technique to the right score of music and there it is a seamless marriage between song and music the ingredients for a classic. You have the ingredients for a song that generations accept as their anthems in some moment in time. Listen to this classic song. Every time I do it makes me laugh. “Every time I do it makes me...”
You could say cry.
Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 957 - 9161.