Monday, 30 September 2013

Joey Ramone

Did you now that there are two solo Joey Ramone records? Joey died in 2001 and both were released posthumously, firstly 'Don't Worry About Me' in 2002 and then 'Ya Know?' in 2012. Both are excellent (obv) and include the expected as well as the surprising - buzzsaw 3 minute rockers and slower, more thoughtful, songs.

My first Ramones song was 'Judy Is A Punk' on a sampler album in 1977. I only saw The Ramones play once, back in around 1980 after the explosion of punk. I still remember the stick figure that was Joey in ripped jeans, leather jacket, shades and hair covering his face - the stereotype that Joey created for himself was there on stage. I saw one of Joey's former 'brothers', Tommy Ramone, when his new band Uncle Monk supported Buffy Sainte-Marie at a gig in New York in 2008. It's not everyday you meet a Ramone so when he came out into the audience after his set I had to shake his hand. Some things are important.

Every now and then Joey pops up on my iPod and his distinctive voice and delivery makes me pay attention. One of the most poignant songs is 'Life's A Gas' that closes 'Ya Know?' when he sings, 'Life's a gas, so don't be sad cause I'll be there, don't be sad at all.' Sorry, Joey, I can't help it.

The Ramones and Joey will always be associated with New York. Joey even has a block of East 2nd Street named after him and the sign for 'Joey Ramone Place' is reported to be the most stolen street sign in New York. I suspect he'd be pleased about that. There's also a great video for Joey's song, 'New York City' (in which he sings, "I'm proud to make my home in New York City"). I think it's Joey's brother that opens and closes the video. Everyone wears a leather jacket (of course) and it's a delight to see Tommy Ramone hold up the 'Joey Ramone Place' street sign at about 1:20 minutes into the video. Once a Ramone always a Ramone and it's a proud heritage.

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