"45" is a song by the hard rock band Shinedown. The song was released on July 13, 2003, on the album Leave a Whisper. Following the album's release, "45" became a popular single. An acoustic cover of "45" was featured on the album's re-release on June 15, 2004.
"45" placed twelfth among U.S. Modern Rock and third among U.S. Mainstream Rock songs after its release.
Brent Smith (the lead singer and songwriter) has stated in an interview:
The inspiration from the song really came from – I think a lot of people kinda take a literal sense because of the lyrics – but the song is basically about the day that you wake up and you look at yourself in the mirror and you finally decide that you want to try to become comfortable in your own skin, and realize that you’re gonna have to make yourself happy before you’re going to make anyone else happy. And basically, the 45 isn’t an actual literal term for a gun, I used it as a metaphor for the world, the .45 is actually the world and what it hands you every day of your life. When you get up, it’s a gift to be alive to begin with. A lot of different people, when I’ve talked about it, they said, “Do you really honestly mean that?” And I’m like, “Well, yeah.” Because I’ve been in that situation where I didn’t know if I wanted to continue going on and I didn’t know how to necessarily make myself comfortable with who I was, trying to find a way of learning more about myself. And you come from a dark place sometimes, and that’s really the reality of the song. It’s about overcoming and about moving forward. And it’s basically about understanding that it’s not always going to be good, but you really have no one to blame for yourself if you don’t move forward. That’s where the whole, “Nobody knows what I believe,” [comes from] because we’re all individuals. So that’s really where it comes from, it’s about moving on, really.
The band requested that the music video for "45" be removed from MTV broadcast because the lyrics "the barrel of a .45" and "ashes of another life" were removed from the chorus and the title card of the video referred to the song by the MTV-originated title "Staring Down..." Singer Brent Smith felt the editing blurred the message of the song and MTV was hypocritical since they had played other unedited videos. Smith believed that if they did not wish to play the song as it was written, they should never have broadcast it. Though the edited version of the video was aired a few times without the artists' consent, the song was eventually pulled from the airwaves. MTV had broadcast without editing, in heavy rotation and during daytime hours, Depeche Mode's 1997 music video for the song "Barrel of a Gun". It was never censored on other music video channels or radio although it had in the chorus, "I've been staring down the barrel of a gun"; it caused no controversy and MTV had no concern.
Yeah, they sent a treatment over, and this was how it went: "And I'm [long pause], swimming through the [long pause]," and I said, "No. That's retarded." I just said, "You don't want to play it because of the words; don't play it, I don't care." At that time, I had a hard time with the company, meaning the network, about that, because I said, "If you can show," –- and this has nothing to do with my feelings toward rap music, hip-hop, R&B, things like that, but it seems like those individuals and those artists could get away with whatever they wanted to, but I'm sitting here talking about a subject matter that I felt needed to be heard, and they were like, "It’s too literal, you're being too blunt about it." And I said, "Jay-Z has "99 Problems" and you don't have a problem showing him getting shot on your network; I don't see why you have a problem with me saying I'm staring down the barrel of a .45, even though the fact is, I'm not even talking about an actual gun.