Head Bang Er (or Blitzkrieg Bop Babies)
by Jazz Bass
Please welcome another new writer! It's another Richard and he's going to be writing about....stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots of music stuff, especially. This first post was one he submitted to us for a guest author shot and was originally published on his weblog. We liked it so much, we asked him to join the club full time. Of course he did. Because no one can resist the onsite moonshine still we offer at FTTW headquarters.
Been on another "J" kick this week. Johnny Ramone, a man who loomed large in my legend, has been pummeling the speakers around Jazz Bass Central. This guy, who was mocked and shortchanged his whole career, was a complete guitarist and an original stylist. Can you say that? Can any of us? Many of us? Natural elites aren't commonplace. Society needs firebrands with conviction in the arts and in commerce. I'm not talking about namby pamby neo-hippies like Joey Ramone, but about Leaders.
Sometimes, you have to make a decision, then you have to take action. If you know a few musicians, the really good ones are usually all business. if you know a few "rock musicians", you're aware that they think the sun shines out of their spotty behinds when they should be thinking "I need to practice more, I need to write more, I need to work on those chords, that solo, this progression. I should learn song forms and be aware of all the variations of the blues."
What you got from The Ramones was tough rock and roll. Hard, fast and loud for a reason. I often think that 1974 was the last good year for old white hippie post beatles progressive heavy rock and roll music. it seems that by the time you get to 1976, you start to get diminishing returns on bang for your buck from radio and the record labels. Regardless of the era or the business climate, The Ramones albums are uncompromsing examples of integrity, hard work, belief in yourself, coming up with your own thing, embracing your limitations and making them your strengths and good old fashioned bedrock capitalism.
How many hippy dippy radical chic spouting rock and roll leg-ends stood up and did their own thing, dressed their own way, didn't take shit and cared deeply, deeply, deeply about making the music the best they possibly could? Not too many, because those kind of bands all had their noses so far up the Beatles' asses that they couldn't see with their eyes open. This is always the way with lesser talent. Someone that can't play but can write their own songs that have their own style are way ahead of some guy that can go "twiddledy twiddley" real fast but has no song vehicle to use that bullshit upon.
The truth is that because of Johnny, The Ramones were a unified force in the face of denial and exclusion and disinformation and ridicule by the record and radio industry for over 20 years. There is no reason that their wonderful hard rocking melodic music shouldn't have been played heavily on American radio except a shut out. In the future, will civilization tout the historical significance of Benny Mardones, Nick Gilder or Robbie Dupree? Will Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever be held up as benchmarks of late 20th century music or will a future citizen scratch his heads and go "Jeebus, what the hell were people thinking? I mean, I can see Joe Walsh now, he's great,and that "Disco Inferno" song is kinda cool but come on!!"?
We all need heros. We all need someone to face the fire for us. Right now, Western Civilization teeters on the brink of annihilation by people who believe it is ok for their holy book to advocate killing and beheading in the name of Allah. If the apocalypse has a soundtrack, I hope they use "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment" or "Commando" or "Go Mental" or "I'm Against It" as our side kicks the shit out of the bad guys.
We need people that will be held in esteem and spoken well of after they pass. A success is someone who lives their life on their terms. What greater compliment than this, spoken by his friend and 5th Ramone, Arturo Vega:
We are immensely saddened by this terrible loss. Johnny contributed in many ways to the success and greatness of the Ramones. But it was his strength and guidance, which made everybody else’s work come to an effective completion, that made him the group’s center of gravity, providing the balance and stability that kept the band, its support crew, and the entire Ramones organization together and in rocking shape. Johnny’s strength came from his character, rich in decency and honesty. His sense of fairness and his strategies always pointed towards the benefit of the Ramones and their fans as an inseparable unit.In this moment of tragedy and darkness, let us find solace, and a cure to our pain, in the knowledge that Johnny accomplished to the limit his life’s aspirations, and in the process he made ours seem possible.HAIL JOHNNY RAMONE!