. . .
1973 was the year when whatever made me a music fanatic finally completely broke loose in my brain, and I spent that year utterly immersed in the glories of AM Top 40 radio, often hearing songs three or four times a day — I mean, when I wasn’t in school or some stupid shit like that.
And, of course, the ones I loved to pieces I started buying as singles — “Daniel” and “Cisco Kid” were the first two of many — but even the ones I just liked a lot I memorized completely.
Like Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” a song that made me nostalgic for things I hadn’t even experienced. I knew who Ringo Starr was, of course. Despite the fact that the Beatles put out their first album the year I was born, they were still in the air and the water (not to mention the Saturday Morning cartoons), and their solo records were all over the radio.
Every time I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I’ve got is a photograph
And I realize you’re not coming back anymore
What I didn’t know, of course, was the all-star (pun intended) cast that Ringo had put together for his first post-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll album. “Photograph” was co-written by George Harrison, and featured session giants like Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins and Klaus Voorman. And that sax solo: Stones sideman Bobby Keys, who’d played on an earlier smash, future Certain Song “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).”
I can’t get used to living here
While my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you
I want you here to have and hold
As the years go by, and we grow old and gray
Featuring a really cool descending breakdown, and about 800 overdubbed Ringos backed by a choir that sounded like half the planet was singing in the background, “Photograph” was absolutely tailor-made for the affable Mr. Starkey, maybe because the sadness baked into the song was counter to his public image. I mean, if Ringo could feel this sad about somebody leaving him, then it was OK for the rest of us!
Or something. In any event, Ringo enjoyed his very first chart-topping hit ever I mean, as a solo artist, of course. On the other hand, the three years between “Photograph” and the last of the Beatles chart-toppers must have felt like an eternity!
Many many years later, the 80’s college radio ironists Camper Van Beethoven covered “Photograph” on their very last indie release before they signed with Virgin and the most ironic thing about it was how sincere it was, because it was a song that defied irony.
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