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Posts Tagged ‘the ramones’

Gone to the Movies: End of the Century

Posted by purplemary54 on July 15, 2014

I’m still really thrown by Tommy Ramone’s death last week, so I’m a little off my game.  Sorry.

One of my favorite music documentaries is End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones.  It’s wonderful and moving, and I learned a lot about one of my favorite bands from watching it.  I think you guys should watch it, too.  Sorry about the subtitles, though.  If you can’t stand it, watch the movie through your media portal/service of choice.  You won’t be sorry, although you might be a little sad.

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“The KKK Took My Baby Away”

Posted by purplemary54 on July 21, 2013

I’m not sure if the computer will be hooked up on Tuesday, so I’m celebrating now.  See, Tuesday is the BFF’s birthday, and I wanted to post a song that was special to her.  Something with meaning and sentiment.  Sure, I could’ve gone with the Kinks, the Clash, or David Bowie.  Maybe some Bob Dylan or Beatles,  or even a little Edith Piaf (she has a taste for French singers and pop music, a taste Mr. BFF and I do not share).  But then I remembered one of our goofy telephone conversations about music.  When we were younger, we’d spend hours on the phone debating the merits of various musicians and songs.  One of our favorite running jokes involved imitating Joey Ramone telling the rest of the band that the record company wanted them to “do more songs about issues.”  Why else would he be writing about the KKK kidnapping his girlfriend?

Of course, the reality of this song is a lot more poignant.  Joey Ramone did indeed write this song in response to losing a girl, but it was to one of his bandmates.  Linda, the girl in question, broke up with Joey, who still felt pretty strongly for her.  Johnny Ramone began dating Linda right away, although they did apparently try to keep the romance under wraps at first.  When Joey found out, he was devastated, and his already rocky relationship with Johnny disintegrated.  Probably made being in a band together kind of difficult.

BFF and I have never been in a band together, and although we’ve gone months without speaking sometimes, we’ve never been really angry with each other for more than a day or two.  We’ve been friends for damn near thirty years now.  She’s still the first person I want to talk to when something goes wrong, or right.  Nobody knows me better than her.  This one’s for you, Ducky.  Happy birthday, a few days early.

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The Ramones, take two

Posted by purplemary54 on March 12, 2012

I don’t like the last post about “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and The Ramones, but I won’t delete it because I’m okay showing everything here, warts and all.  And I want to try again to express a little of what The Ramones stand for, to me, because they deserve it.

When Joey Ramone died about ten years ago, I was utterly heartbroken.  He was so wonderfully himself, and it was such a tremendous loss to music and the world (Joey was always the face of the band for me). The Ramones breaking up was a loss to music, even though they’d long since past their prime.  They stood for something, although the only words I have for that are abstract: freedom, fun, independence, joy.  Most punk is angry and disaffected.  Even when The Ramones were acting angry and disaffected, they sounded like they were having too much fun to stay unhappy for very long.  They were the fast and the sort of furious, but they’d forget whatever anger they might have had the minute the music started to play.

All the men who made up The Ramones had their lives transformed by music.  Joey, especially.  He was painfully shy, very probably with some kind of mental problems that interfered with his ability to interact with others.  But music gave him a voice in the world, one that had the power to reach out to other misfits and give them a place to belong.  That’s what I think I enjoy the most, and even identify with.  That this guy could reinvent himself without losing the person he’d always been.  He was just a guy who loved music, learned how to play and write songs, and got out there to live out his dreams.  Sort of makes me jealous.

Besides “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” I have a lot of love for “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”  It’s such a sweet song, with a touch of fifties adolescent innocence to it.  You’re pretty sure that the tall, skinny geek in the song really just wants to hold hands and kiss and go to the record store with the girl he’s singing to.  It’s touching.

The Ramones touched my life, just like they touched the lives of millions of others.  And they gave hope to all the square pegs being squeezed into round holes.  Hope that maybe, somewhere, there was a square hole they could fit in.

 

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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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