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“Sheena is a Punk Rocker”

Posted by purplemary54 on March 11, 2012

A friend of mine in college, who was a little older than me, told me once about how hearing this song was liberating for her.  I can’t remember if she was a punk or just leaning that way, but it validated the way she felt about the world.  She felt just like Sheena, discovering the power of her own voice and agency over her life.

The Ramones helped recreate the landscape of rock music.  Hell, they helped recreate the landscape of some people’s’ lives.  They stood out because they were different.  Coming out on stage at CBGB and just tearing through their sets at breakneck speed, all dressed in blue jeans and black leather jackets.  They were punk.  In many ways, they are the quintessential face of American punk.  They were also good.  The songs are short and fast, but not angry (unusual for punk in general, but not New York punk).  If you listen, you can hear the echoes of the doowop and rockabilly they all listened to as kids.

“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” has joy in it, precisely because it is about independence and freedom.  Sheena “just couldn’t stay, she had to break away.”  There is nothing more joyful than finding a place, literal or metaphorical, where you belong.  There is power in feeling comfortable in your own skin.  Sometimes you can get that just by listening to a song.  The Ramones knew that.  That’s where they all found their place.  They rejected the dominate musical styles and fashions and created their own.

I love The Ramones because they did what they wanted to do.  They were scared and unsure, but they did it anyway because they knew it was right.  And doing that helped a lot of other scared and unsure people break away from convention.  That’s worth more than anything else in the world.


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