Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy/Marky. The Ramones weren’t related, but they were like a family, with a full sense of familial dysfunction. Johnny and Joey didn’t speak to each other for years. Diametrically opposed in their political views and temperaments and connected by Linda who used to be Joey’s girlfriend and became Johnny’s wife. Dee Dee didn’t avoid conflict either. Like every great band, all that dysfunction didn’t get in the way of producing the greatest three-chord sound ever. Rock, punk, didn’t matter what you called it, you came out of a Ramones concert exhausted and happy.
I was lucky to see them a few times, first time around 1979. A small venue, everyone on their feet. The music blasting before they arrive, ripped jeans, black leather jackets, Dee Dee and Johnny have bowl cuts, Joey and Marky long, wild hair. 1-2-3-4. They don’t stop, one song goes into another. No silly identify the city yell outs. They play just over an hour, but what an hour. People are jumping up and down, trying to keep up with them. Joey barely moves, while Johnny and Dee Dee don’t stop moving.
We take the subway, then the bus, back to our suburban wasteland campus. Each one of us has a Ramones T-shirt on top of our soaked through t-shirt. We know we’ve part of something great.
Sheena is a punk rocker now.