The Ramones were the first American band I fell in love with.
I had just recently discovered rock and roll, I was always a quirky kid, a classic movie fan and Broadway musical snob I would rather watch Fred Astaire or dance in a show than go to the mall and listen to “popular music” But then a girl I met in my first (and pretty much only) year of high school who had been living in England turned me on to the Kinks, Bowie, Mott the Hoople , Sweet, T-rex then MY BAND forevermore early Queen. I was a glam fan, no doubt about it. They were theatrical enough to thrill the theatre buff in me and raw and raucous enough for my raging teenage hormones. We took great pride in never shopping at Waxie Maxies. We only went to the import store to buy the one record a week we could afford with our allowance. When the whole punk thing started in England we just weren’t feeling it. It didn’t strike a chord with us little white girls living in the suburbs of Nowheresville USA. Where were the suits and the platform boots? Oh dear oh my o my-o my-o . We didn’t want to start a riot or cut ourselves with broken glass. We were well fed and “comfortable” and cringed at anarchy and blood and didnt want to tear up our clothes, they were cute and we didn’t have much money for those either and we sure as hell didn’t want to be sticking safety pins through our bubble gum pink glossed lips. But then, there were the Runaways and the Ramones.
They looked like us and the guys we went to school with, they wore the kind of clothes we could afford, their haircuts looked like ours, as if they had cut it themselves because they couldn’t afford to go to the salon because they would rather buy records, concerts tickets , and party.
They sang about stuff we could relate to, they were cartoon characters of us, bigger and brighter and more crazy and colorful than we could ever be but they felt like next door neighbors and best friends. They dreamed the stuff we dreamed and then went out and did it! We didn’t have any money when they came to Warner Theatre together to buy tickets but we snuck in the theater at 5pm and saw The Ramones do their sound check. When security found us they tried to throw us out but the band told them to let us stay. So we got to see the show after all! After the show Joan Jett was standing backstage cigarette in one hand, Jack Daniels bottle in another. I said to her “So is it true you are from Rockville? So am I.” She threw one arm over my shoulder like we were the best of friends and said” Yeah I’m from Rockville doesn’t it SUCK? I said “Yah it does” and she took a swig and said laughed” It sucks SO bad” and she passed me her bottle of jack to have a big swig. I had never had it before and it was all I could do not to choke as I sucked it down but I didn’t want to let Joan down. Cause she could have been me, or be me someday. The Ramones were the guys who showed up to play a gig at your house when your parents were out of town, the guys you might find in your garage practicing until the neighbors called the cops .
They weren’t “grown-ups “or rock gods or guys twice our age in sequins and spandex or lame. They were what they were. They were us.
As it’s always been said “They were real. You always knew what time of day it was with the Ramones” Who’s going to tell us now? Or the kids today? Lady Ga Ga? Britany Spears? Justin Beiber? Some may say our time has come and gone and it ain’t ever coming back. But as long as the last one of us is still here, although we are all going faster and faster and there are less of us all the time our time will always be now, as long as we always remember them. And even more important we remember us. We are still here. Just older and wiser, and it hurts to head bang all night and we may make that noise our dad used to make when we have to stand up to fast when we get out of a comfy recliner. Never forget that kid isn’t who you used to be. It’s still and will always be the REAL you. Before the world, and your parents, and your school, and your job and your Dr. told you who you were supposed to be.
“It wasn’t just music in The Ramones: it was an idea. It was bringing back a whole feel that was missing in rock music – it was a whole push outwards to say something new and different. Originally it was just an artistic type of thing; finally I felt it was something that was good enough for everybody.” – Tommy Ramone, 1978
Goodbye Tommy. We miss you all. Long live The Ramones! Gabba Gabba Hey!