When I was in 6th grade I was introduced to the new music known as punk via my older brother's interesting musical tastes. My brother had a large collection of 8-track tapes and the most notorious one was "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols." As a nervous youngster I took to covering it up when I saw it because of the word "Sex" in the title. Later, I moved beyond my brother's influence with The Ramones.
I was never a punk kid even though I kinda wanted to be. I was very goody-two-shoes, everyone called me a "schoolgirl." I was drawn to punk because I wanted to shock people, I guess. Secretly, I wanted a mohawk haircut and to wear leather jackets. Punk was so pure, unencumbered, and straightforward with The Ramones music being the most straightforward of them all. I was surfing around on youtube tonight and there are several clips of The Ramones performing at the US festival in 1982. While viewing them I was reminded that Ramones songs are economical. Many of the songs are very short, less than three minutes long, so you get lots of songs in a short amount of time. The driving guitar style, the fast pace. It's spare and brilliant. Here's a clip. It clocks in at about 2 minutes.
Years later, sometime in the early 1990s, I was driving somewhere and listening to Live 105 in the morning and the Alex Bennett Show. He was interviewing frontman Joey Ramone and they were having a nice chat. It's strange but his speaking voice** was and still is instantly recognizable to me. I can't remember when and where I first heard it but it's seared into my memory. Alex and Joey were talking about how much they like housework. Joey was saying he likes vacuuming and doing the dishes. Alex was really getting into this conversation thread and ran with it asking him if he likes other household chores like dusting. Alex and Joey then had the following exchange:
Alex: "So what about ironing? Do you like that because I like ironing."
(Joey doesn't answer. A very long pause.)
Joey: "Ironing. I don't know. Does it look like I iron?"
Alex (spoken quickly): "No, no, no, of course not."
Alex quickly moved onto other topics, but even though the topic was over I was laughing so hard in my car I could barely see where I was going. I kept picturing Joey Ramone with an iron, holding it up and looking at it quizzically.
For some reason I seem to be the only person on the planet who heard that interview because I've mentioned it to others who like The Ramones and they've never heard it. I suppose I can count myself blessed.
Joey Ramone died on April 15, 2001 of lymphoma, eight years ago today. Two other members Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Ramone died within three years. Thank goodness we still have their music.
**Note: this link redirects to an interview with Joey about Iggy Pop. Iggy's an extreme performer and his onstage antics are both legendary and groundbreaking. You'll get a small taste of them in this link.