January 29, 2009


THE NPR 100: 'I Wanna Be Sedated' (Bob Boilen, December 4, 2000, All Things Considered)

I love The Ramones. I think The Ramones took rock 'n' roll back to its soul. In the mid-'70s, rock had grown into something big, fat, bloated. Bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes and Kansas were touring huge arenas. Large truck convoys followed them, filled with light towers and smoke machines and other things that had little to do with music. Sometimes, I think the critical success of Sgt. Pepper in 1967 and the cultural impact of Woodstock two years later were both a blessing and a curse for rock 'n' roll. Big productions and new instrumentation may have given rock legitimacy, but in the process, they took away its intimacy and immediacy.

Along came Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee, four guys from Queens with a passion for short, loud and fast songs with great hooks. They altered their first names, and each took on a new last name: Ramone. It was Paul McCartney's stage name during the Silver Beatle days.

On July 4, 1976, America's 200th birthday, The Ramones went to the Motherland. The group's performance at the Roundhouse in London jump-started the punk movement. It was The Ramones' way of thanking England and The Beatles for rescuing rock 'n' roll from the Bobby Rydells, Bobby Vintons, Bobby Darins and Bobby Vees who were making a mockery of it, subverting the spirit championed by young Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash were just getting revved up. The Ramones' music was a call to brandish guitars, shift music back to the clubs and sing from the heart and the gut. And don't forget: This is supposed to be fun.

...for saving us from the pretentious gits. The Ramones used to make appearancves on the immortal UHF show, Uncle Floyd, and at first you couldn't tell them apart from one of the gags.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2009 9:45 AM
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