Late to The Ramones Party, First to Leave.
With the passing of Tommy Ramone, all founding members of the Ramones have now died.
I remember first hearing them in college, and many times thereafter, but not really appreciating them until many years later. Their sound and lyrics were confusing, and I honestly felt dumb that I didn't get it more. Many of my friends were very, very into the band, and the louder that they played it, and the more they would say, "see?" the worse it got. I wasn't used to songs in bursts, with simple power and simpler lyrics. I was coming from an Argent, Steely Dan world where everything had to be explained in 6:30, preferably with a long keyboard solo. So "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" just didn't answer enough questions. Why is she a punk rocker? How did it come to this? How are her parents going to react? Will she trade-in her Mirada for a Gremlin? I needed answers that the Ramones blissfully allowed me to figure out on my own.
However, were it not for them, I would have been lost still when the Dead Kennedys train came through the station in between my ears. Sex Pistols, Crass, Black Flag...they all knew what the Ramones were talking about, and I became very un-Steely Dan in my new music appreciation. How could the Ramones say in 2 minutes what it took even The Kinks to say in 3? I know now--they were speaking to a smarter brand of people. The kids who could just read the Cliff Notes and still ace the tests. Here's to you, Ramones.