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Ramones Toronto 1976 | © Plismo/WikiCommons
Ramones Toronto 1976 | © Plismo/WikiCommons

An Introduction To The Ramones In 10 Songs

Picture of Valerie McPhail
Updated: 13 January 2017
From the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, Queens-based punk rock band the Ramones birthed a culture in New York City’s streets that still rings true to its international and self-acclaimed identity. From leather jackets to profound screams and shouts, the Ramones started a revolution that defined the meaning of punk rock for millions. We give you an introduction to this Forest Hills-born musical group in 10 songs.

‘Blitzkrieg Bop’

Proclaiming ‘Hey, Ho, Let’s go!’, this famous anthem climbed the ranks towards The Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ trumped records and set new heights for history’s coolest boy band. This song, a single featured on their self-titled Ramones album, depicts a story about a group of kids out in the town, enjoying a show. A song inspired from the Bay City Roller’s song, ‘Saturday’, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ became a classic hit that now surpasses all modes of media. Its charisma is linked to the upbeat, catchy tune, alongside its relatable meaning. After all, who doesn’t like to have a little fun?

‘Do You Wanna Dance’

With Dee Dee’s blaring bass paired with cutesy lyrics depicting what seems equivalent to a childhood romance, the simple question, ‘Do you wanna dance under the moonlight?’ haunts the sentiment achieved in a 1978 recording of the band’s performance at Winterland in San Francisco, just after the Christmas holiday. Coveted by Bill Graham and released by Paste Magazine, this recording reveals the passion of Mr. Dee Dee Ramone’s art through the spirit of music. Grumbles, and growls, complete and inaudible at times, you can feel its rawness cut to the core. Love doesn’t look at age, it looks for passion.

‘Rockaway Beach’

Lead singer Joey admitted to being the beach bum of the group. Sung with enthusiasm over the sunshine, this hit reflects a favorite memory of his childhood: time spent at Queens’ Rockaway Beach. A song made for those nostalgic, sunny summer days, ‘Rockaway Beach’ is reminiscent of a Beach Boys tune, while the sound simultaneously defines the artistic endeavors of the Ramones. This was their break-out song, and the waves of success only carried their fame on.

‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’

Marrying surf and punk culture, ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ is the conversation between melodic beats and swift, repetitive lyrics. Dedicated to the hit 1980s film Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, this song was destined for success. Released at a time when society was obsessed with British punk rock, it was only a matter of time before this American song trumped the charts. The Ramones were the initiators of the American punk rock movement, and amid competing interests, they remained dedicated to their unique sound.

‘Beat on the Brat’

Brothers Joey and Dee Dee Ramone revealed that this song was a tribute to their childhood. Growing up in Forest Hills fueled inspiration for a tune of honest frustration around wealthy mothers and their naughty children. In the end, ‘Beat on the Brat’ became a statement about the lack of discipline and parental control in society. The only acceptable reason to create a true disturbance is for the purpose of instituting change, and it can be done through music.

‘I Wanna Be Sedated’

Ever wondered what life on tour is like? This song encapsulates the experience. This tune specifically references an accident in which a humidifier exploded while the band was on tour. The life of a traveling musician is a wild ride, full of unexpected encounters and detours. ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ speaks to the chaotic lifestyle of a rock and roll musician.

‘Pet Semetary’

Written for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary, this song was released just after Dee Dee departed from the group. While ‘Pet Cemetery’ didn’t top the charts, this song showcases the Ramones’ signature grit, profiling a dark theme supported by Joey’s storytelling lyrics. Departing from their usual reckless sound, the effect reveals the expanse of their talent.

‘Psycho Therapy’

Blunt, raw and honest, ‘Psycho Therapy’ provides an account of Joey’s schizophrenia and paranoia diagnoses after spending some time in a psychiatric ward as a teenager. The beat is crazed and accompanied by lyrics as such as, ‘I am a teenage dope fiend…I’m gonna burglarize your home.’ Thus themes of reckless youth and mental instability reign supreme.

‘Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?’

Produced by Phil Spector, ‘Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’ was a stretch for the Ramones. More stylistically reflective of Spector’s influences than their signature sound, this song created a fair amount of discord; a series of disagreements led to Spector flashing a gun at the band. The experience was recorded as dysfunctional, yet its vintage feel created a timeless piece.

‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’

After their experience with Phil Spector, the band experienced even more turmoil. This time, the fight was between bandmates Joey and Johnny over a girl named Linda. This song, off their 1981 album Pleasant Dreams, reveals that Johnny stole Joey’s girl and went off to marry her. Another theory, supported by Joey’s brother, supposes that the song is about their parents’ disapproval of his 1970s romance with an African-American woman named Wilna. In any event, what would rock n’ roll be without heartbreak?