Approaching 40: Photograph

Some songs become a kind of lifelong anthem, they just stick with you in inexplicable ways. In early 1983, Def Leppard released its third studio album, Pyromania. It became the first popular rock album of the 1980s that my brother and I actually owned–the ’33, of course, and we played that album endlessly. I can’t say if I was a Def Leppard fan before that album, but I’ve been one ever since, even if I’m not particularly fond of their stuff after Hysteria. But whenever I hear the opening chords of “Photograph” from the Pyromania album, I’m instantly transported back to those early days of the 1980s. Indeed, I have a very specific memory of this song. My brother and I were hanging out with some friends in the front yard of our next door neighbor, discussing the band. My parents had gone to the movies with said neighbors, and I believe they went to see The Exorcist.

What we were discussing was one of those badges of youth that matter for reasons that make no sense once you are a few years older. Could we name all of the members of Def Leppard. If you could name all of the members, it meant you were a true fan of the band. If you could not name all of the members, you were just a wannabe fan. Looking back on it, it was an utterly ridiculous proposition. Who cares whether or not you could name all of the band members. All that really mattered was that you liked the music. And indeed I liked that music and that song is still one of my favorites. According to iTunes, I’ve listened to the song 76 times, but I know that in the nearly 30 years since the song came out, I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and enjoyed it each and every time.

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