Look, if I can make it through Fredric Wertham, Rob Liefeld, and the constant desecration of my childhood, YOU can put up with Nickelback for a few minutes, okay?
Frankly I don’t understand the hate and ridicule the band gets. I’m not a die-hard fan but there are two songs of theirs I really like: “Hero” from the Spider-Man soundtrack (because nowadays closing credit music is considered part of the soundtrack) and this song, a story about revisiting the glory days of your youth. There’s just a nice relaxing tone to the song that’s kind of soothing.
Coming off of their All The Right Reasons album and released as a single along with a cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, “Photograph” is about the singer’s character going through old photographs before leaving his past behind him. There’s a lot of heart to the song and there should be: it’s based on the songwriters’ actual lives.
Can I just start by saying how surprisingly hard it was finding a good lyric video? If it wasn’t dealing with typos or not paying attention to the lyrics they had some annoying visuals in the background. I hope the one I finally chose doesn’t get pulled down at any point. You hear me, Warner Music? This is helping me praise your song. Look, I’ll even link to your official music video. And it’s worth watching because it actually ties well into the song.
The song is written by members of the band, Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake, and then new drummer Daniel Adair. And it’s based on the lives of most of the band as they reflect on their days growing up in Hanna, Alberta in Canada. In fact the video was shot there and the photograph is what inspired the song. “Joey” is manager Joey Moi, wearing a champagne chiller on his head during a New Years party. From Songfacts:
This song is about reviewing the memories – missed and forgotten – from the band’s childhood in Hanna, Alberta. The lyrics are a chronicle of real events and personal landmarks lead singer Chad Kroeger recalled as he wrote it.
Speaking with CBC, he explained: “It’s just nostalgia, growing up in a small town, and you can’t go back to your childhood. Saying goodbye to friends that you’ve drifted away from, where you grew up, where you went to school, who you hung out with and the dumb stuff you used to do as a kid, the first love – all of those things. Everyone has one or two of those memories that they are fond of, so this song is really just the bridge for all that.”
. . .
Chad Kroeger sings of breaking into his high school. Asked by NME how many times he did so, he replied: “Well, I say I did it half a dozen times, but I was charged with 11 counts of breaking and entering… it didn’t rhyme though. ‘I must have done it, pause, 11 times’ doesn’t quite fit as well as half a dozen.”
So apparently Chad wasn’t a very good kid. And why would you break into your old high school six times, never mind the actual eleven? Did you forget your textbook that often? The only time I went back to my high school after hours was to attend a wrestling match or that one time I watched some friends of mine playing basketball to practice for photography class. (I’m just not a sports person.) The point is all of those events Chad sings about in the song happened to him or one of the other band members. I wonder if “Kim” is her real name or just a name they came up with for the song? One commentor made the same notation I did, that when the song ends on “every time I do it makes me laugh/ every time I do it makes me”, it sounds like the character is getting at least a bit choked up as he says goodbye to his old life…except for that one photo that always makes him laugh.
Remember how we started out talking about the backlash Nickelback gets? Well it’s led to the song being parodied on multiple occasions to the point that Know Your Meme covered it. And this song was actually personal to the band. I hope they at least have a good sense of humor. Imagine if you wrote a song remembering the good old days of your youth and people came along and started mocking it and you for daring to be nostalgic? I don’t know how I’d feel…but I don’t have that many happy memories of my high school years to write a song about. I was the kid that got picked on, remember? “Photograph” isn’t a bad song even if it was made-up but the fact that this actually was about their lives as they move on to their future makes it just a little better.