“Photograph”, by Def Leppard, remains one of my favorite songs. Their lead singer, Joe Elliott, was my first teenage crush.
This song came out 30 years ago. I was 12 years old and when I saw him and heard him sing, I was firmly rooted in my very first crush. The chorus of this song continues to make me want to cry and I’m no expert in music theory to try and explain it. Is there some sort of chord structure that evokes desperation or sadness or longing, because that’s what I feel when I hear it even now. And I hear it when he sings- almost screams- the higher notes, like he just has to get there, whether or not his vocal range says he should. I remember staring at pictures of the band in Circus Magazine, cutting them out and hanging them on my bedroom door. He, like a lot of other rock musicians at the time, had this beautiful androgyny that I loved. My best friend had the same love for David Bowie. They were masculine, but had an unescapable softness in their presentation. I mean, check it out, buddy has a mullet and is wearing leg warmers in this video. And a scarf. And leather pants. There is so much to now laugh at or mock, but I will tell you that this teenage girl was in LOVE. I won’t even get into my thoughts on the Union Jack muscle shirt.
So Joe Elliott, Happy Birthday (even though it was yesterday). I don’t care if the calendar says you turned 54. In my photograph, you are still 24 and I am still a teenage girl with a crush.