It’s Just Not Right

It’s Just Not Right

Dammit, something isn’t right. When I got the news that Joey Ramone had died, it hit me more than most rock star roadcrash stories. Because Joey wasn’t your average rock star. The Ramones were such a part of the soundtrack of my youth that it feels almost as if I’ve lost a family member. Anyone who ever saw them will remember Joey’s stance — the one leg forward, hair in his face, like he was singing into a hurricane — and anyone who was a teenager in the late ’70s has a warm spot in their musical heart for the band that played an entire concert in 30 minutes — and played about 20 songs in that time.

The first time I saw the Ramones was on a bill with Black Sabbath and Van Halen on Halloween night at the Omni (a since demolished barn of a place) in Atlanta. The Ramones were never an arena act. Their basic style of music worked far better in a smaller, smoky club where the force of Johnny’s guitar would part your hair, and the bass would make your beer jump on the bar. But putting them on a bill with metal bands was even dumber. But they soldiered on, troopers that they were — hell, they were from New York City for crying out loud. A bunch of drunken southerners couldn’t slow them down. All around the arena that night you could little pockets of people dancing to “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” We knew.

Joey Ramone’s death really makes me feel old. Hell, out of that band, you always sorta thought it would be Dee Dee who bought the farm first. He did co-write the heroin theme song “Chinese Rocks,” after all. And when other members of the class of ’77 have passed — the Sids and others — hell, it was expected. But not Joey. His worst ailment was bad sinuses. Somehow the notion that I won’t be able to take my kid to a Ramones concert, to introduce him to my version of “hooked on math” — Dee Dee’s screech of “1-2-3-4!” and the pure, in your face joy of the Ramones music really sobers me. Something just ain’t right. Joey, thanks for everything you did. They need a pinhead in heaven.

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