The Ramones changed the tide of rock ‘n’ roll. They did more than inspire their fellow musicians, they helped to craft an entire counterculture scene. Many aspiring punks in the mid-’70s were donning their leather jackets and Chucks in their honor.
They heavily leaned into the dangerous side of rock music. They never minced their words and took on topics many other outfits would have shied away from. Lyrics like Shoot ’em in the back now…They’re all revved up and ready to go couldn’t have come from any other source.
Ranking their deeply influential catalog is a hard task but, we’ve managed to pluck out a few songs that are undisputed standouts. Find the top 10 Ramones songs, below.
“Pinhead” was inspired by the 1932 film Freaks. The offbeat movie starred a number of circus sideshow acts in a plight of unrequited love and stolen inheritance. Some of the lyrics, namely Gabba Gabba we accept you one of us, were taken directly from the film. Sonically, it is typical Ramones fare with an unrelenting guitar riff and a driving drum line.
9. “The KKK Took My Baby Away”
“The KKK Took My Baby Away” stems from a real-life girlfriend swap between Joey and Johnny Ramone. Johnny stole Joey’s girl and later married her – an indiscretion that left a bad taste in Joey’s mouth, it seems. Though Johnny was not a member of the KKK, he allegedly would often make Jewish jokes around Joey and Tommy Ramone, who are both Jewish.
8. “Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?”
The group reflects on the glory days of rock n’ roll with this track. The lyrics read We need change, and we need it fast / Before rock’s just part of the past / ‘Cause lately, it all sounds the same to me. The band hoped this song would be a commercial breakthrough. Though it didn’t quite reach that precipice, it remains a Ramones gem.
When thinking of the Ramones, often their punky and raucous anthems come to mind. But on the other side of that, the group had its fair share of softer pop offerings, among which “Questioningly” is a standout.
6. “Teenage Lobotomy”
If there’s one thing the Ramones have always been good at, it’s crafting a twisted lyric or two. “Teenage Lobotomy” is no exception. DDT did a job on me / Now I am a real sickie / Guess I’ll have to break the news / That I got no mind to lose / All the girls are in love with me / I’m a teenage lobotomy,” the lyrics read.
5. “I Wanna Be Sedated”
Getting into some of their most famous offerings, “I Wanna Be Sedated” appeared on their 1978 album, Road to Ruin. Lyrically, the song tackles the boredom rock stars can face on the road and the quick fixes they use to thwart that problem.
“It’s a road song,” Joey Ramone once explained. “Danny Fields was our first manager and he would work us to death. We would be on the road 360 days a year, and we went over to England, and we were there at Christmas time, and [at] Christmas time, London shuts down. There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go.”
4. “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”
“Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” is one of the Ramones’ most beloved songs. When they first wrote the track, their record label felt the song was set to become a radio hit. Around the same time though, the Sex Pistols were wreaking havoc around London, making radio less inclined to support punk artists.
“Safety pins, and everyone gouging each others eyeballs out, and this and that,” Joey Ramone explained in the documentary End Of The Century. “Everybody flipped out. It really kind of screwed things up.”
3. “Glad To See You Go”
“Glad To See You Go” is the opening track to the Ramones’ second album, Leave Home. The song was written about Dee Dee Ramone’s ex-girlfriend, who was addicted to heroin and highly abusive. As the story goes, when they finally broke up he left her with one parting message: “I’m glad to see you go!”
2. “Rockaway Beach”
“Rockaway Beach” is the Beach Boys by way of punk rock. The lyrics mirror Brian Wilson and Co.’s affinity for a sunny shore but, they turn that sensibility on its head by singing about one of the worst beaches in a seedy neighborhood in New York City. It had the makings of a pop hit but failed to make a splash. Nevertheless, it has become a fan favorite in hindsight.
1. “Blitzkrieg Bop”
Hey Ho, Let’s Go…”Blitzkrieg Bop” sees the group at their very best. All of their hallmarks – anthemic guitars, rolling drums, and counterculture-bolstering lyrics – are present and accounted for. It’s undoubtedly one of their most famous songs and deeply influential in the punk scene.
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