Saturday, July 12, 2014

Remembering Ramones

Not to be too dramatic, but I seem to be taking the death of Tommy Ramone harder than I would have expected. I think it's the finality of it all. He was the last of the original Ramones. Even though the fellas were a generation ahead of me in age, the demise of the band has me realizing life is flying by, and the 20 years they had on me are going to pass in the blink of an eye.

Why would Ramones, of all bands, produce such a melancholy mood? Probably because, as I mentioned to Dirk at sexyloser earlier today, my first-ever album purchases using my own dough were 'Ramones' and 'Rocket to Russia,' and I have never forgotten that feeling of excitement as I walked out of the shop with those two records under my arm. It was the summer of 1982. After collecting some cash on my paper route, my junior-high pal Matt, with his mother driving, picked me up for a trip to the mall. I had recently seen 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' on cable, and it seemed like 'Citizen Kane' to me. I snatched up these two albums from the bins of JR's Music in Pekin, Ill., and took them to the counter. They were $6.49 each. With tax, I was going to be a little short, less than a dollar, and my friend's mother came through with some change at the bottom of her purse. How could that have been 32 years ago?

That was the summer of Ramones. Much to the horror of my parents, this twelve year old was screaming along to songs about DDT, lobotomies, sniffing glue and a daddy liking men. Hey, that's what kids do, and I fully expect to be on the other end with my children in a few more years. They're pretty scratchy now, but I still have these vintage pieces of vinyl. Here's one from my copy of 'Rocket to Russia.'

Thank you, Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey and, yes, Tommy. You boys lit a wick under me that still burns brightly. Gabba Gabba Hey!

Ramones - Teenage Lobotomy


Echorich said...

Great memory Brian. I can't begin to tell you how much Ramones meant to me. They were a big part of my teen years - on of the first concerts I ever saw and bands I had the pleasure of introducing to my friends. In my 20's Johnny Ramone became a regular social friend whom I could sit in the VIP Room at Limelight in NYC and discuss politics, music and life along with my best friend Patty and his wife Linda.
Tommy was the Ramone that left, but those first 4 amazing albums wouldn't be what they are without Tommy's input as a producer and manager.
He never really left though as he still played a lot of the lead guitars on Road To Ruin. Johnny would be first to admit that in the studio he preferred to play rhythm.
Farewell to the last Bruddah Ramone.

Brian said...

Good to hear from you, Echorich. Sounds like your run-ins with Johnny are another chapter for your book, eh? Ramones sure are great for those troublesome teen years.

Uncle E said...

One of my great regrets in life is never seeing the Ramones in concert. I think you hit the nail on the head, in that this death marks the final chapter in the Ramones story. It's all memories going forward. Those first five Ramones albums (I rate Century a lot higher than I probably should, for sentimental reasons) are all very special to me, and were a huge part of my musical education growing up, along with the Clash. An interesting aside, I got a chance to educate my daughter the other day. I was playing the Ramones in the car and she asked me if they were from a Greeen Day album she didn't have. 4 hours later and I guarantee she'll never make that mistake again.

Brian said...

Hey, E. There's hope for the future. Now if I could just get my kids interested.