Jamey Johnson, “In Color”

If you’re much under 40 you may not remember when a black and white photo wasn’t created by computer manipulation, but there was a time when that was as good as it got. As the writers of “In Color,” Jamey Johnson, James Otto and Lee Thomas Miller metaphorically compared black and white to the colors of real life with insinuation more than actual declaration.

“In Color” was both a critical and a commercial success for country singer Johnson from his 2008 album That Lonesome Song, and this was one time when the critics and the public both got it right. The song revolves around a man telling his life story to his grandson (the singer), who has questions about grandpa’s old pictures, which are all in black and white. Grandpa explains the backgrounds behind the photos of his childhood, his Air Force wartime service, and his wedding day, and those three respective verses are tied together with the common lines:

If it looks like we were scared to death Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other You should've seen it in color.

The song’s construction, when compared to something like a standard AABA, is a little out of the ordinary, but it works well. While the song’s three verses are linked by the lines above, the second and third verses have a couple additional lines as well. Some may consider the common lines to be a chorus, but it’s quite a stretch to call them that, especially when they’re followed by more text. This is also probably the only hit song that has ever successfully rhymed “eleven” with “depression.”

Miller, who is the current... Sign In to Keep Reading

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