“Photograph” by Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr will always be known as a musician. But he also sports a notable film career and relatedly has experience as a professional photographer, even going back to his Beatles’ days. That is not to imply that this song (“Photograph”) is actually about photography. But logic would dictate that the said passion of Ringo’s did influence the motif of this track, if you will.
But more to the point, what we’re dealing with here is a song of heartbreak. It can be said that the late-1960s/early-1970s was an era in which songs started to get more complex than in times past, but this isn’t one of such outings.
Instead, what’s being put forth here is pretty straightforward, in that the addressee is the vocalist’s ex. And as relayed, when they first broke up Ringo thought that he would be able to manage. But unfortunately for him, time has proven otherwise.
So what we are met with here is a vocalist who is very much in his feelings. The lyrics aren’t such that he’s necessarily begging the addressee to come back. But he does make it explicitly known that he ‘wants her’, or let’s more bluntly say he’s emotionally assed out in her absence.
In other words, this is the case of a guy who simply cannot and/or does not want to perceive how life would be devoid of the woman he loves. And going back to the title, as it currently stands the only thing he has to remind him of the edifying relationship they once shared “is a photograph”, presumably of the addressee though perhaps featuring the both of them.
Ringo Starr will always enjoy A list status due to the fact that he was a member of The Beatles, the 1960s’ group that basically ushered in the era of pop music. What is not as commonly known is that since The Beatles disbanded, Ringo has consistently been dropping albums of his own, having released a whopping 20 studio LPs, with the most recent as of this writing being 2019’s “What’s My Name”.
That said, Starr definitely enjoyed more solo notoriety during the 1970s, at a time when thoughts of The Beatles were still fresh in the mind of the public. So for instance “Photograph”, being one of his most-successful singles, dates back to the musician’s third studio album, itself titled “Ringo”, which was in fact issued through Apple Records, i.e. the label The Beatles founded while they were still together.
Release of “Photograph”
The song itself, being the lead single from that album, was made public on 24 September 1973.
Starr co-wrote “Photograph” with his former Beatles’ bandmates, the late George Harrison (1943-2001). The producer of the track is Richard Perry.
The composition of this song commenced while both Starr and Harrison were in Europe and more specifically Spain – a reality which, according to Ringo, did influence the final product.
The first time they recorded a version of “Photograph” was actually while George was in the process of laying down one of his own studio albums, which turned out to be 1973’s “Living in the Material World”.
“Photograph” did in fact hit, more so in the United States than in Ringo’s homeland of the UK, in that it topped bot the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100. Furthermore, it also garnered RIAA gold certification the year of its release.
Besides that, it also appeared on music rankings in a dozen other countries, including peaking at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart.
Being that this is arguably the most-notable track amongst Starr’s personal catalog, it has appeared on a couple of his compilation albums, including 2007’s “Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr”, which is named after this song. That would imply that this is indeed Ringo’s signature song as a soloist.
As such, when he and Paul McCartney, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards in 2014, Starr performed this tune. Also, the musician assembled his own book of photography in 2013, which has of course been titled Photograph itself.
It can be put forth that perhaps Ringo Starr was the least popular member of The Beatles. That’s how it usually goes when you’re part of a band and also happen to be the drummer. But with that in mind, one of his more-notable former bandmates, John Lennon (1940-1980), did, in his own way, celebrate the success of “Photograph” and that which Ringo enjoyed as a soloist in general.
In addition to enjoying number 1 status in America, “Photograph” also enjoyed top-10 hit status in these countries:
With over 2,000,000 units sold (to date) in the United States, “Photograph” is one of the most commercially successful singles of all time.
Notable Covers of “Photograph”
English pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck covered the track in 1974. It was released as part of his album, “My Love”.
That same year, the Ray Conniff Singers released their version of “Photograph”.
In 1975, English recording engineer David Hentschel gave an electronic spin to the original for his album, “Sta*rtling Music”.
English singer Cilla Black included her cover version in her 2003 album, “Beginnings: Greatest Hits & New Songs”.
Movie and TV Appearances
- Soundtrack of 2009 American comedy drama movie, “Funny People”.
- 2016 American family drama series, “This Is Us”.