• rileysoloner

three Ramones songs

Updated: Feb 10

Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (My Brain is Hanging Upside Down)

Something to Believe In

Howling at the Moon (sha la la)

Are these my favorite Ramones songs? The know-it-all Ramones fan part of me is saying no, because they're relatively corny sounding, synth laden tracks tucked away on two mostly forgettable albums, Animal Boy and Too Tough to Die. Shouldn't my favorite Ramones songs be, I don't know, 53rd and 3rd, Judy is a Punk, or Sheena is a Punk Rocker? Maybe a demo from the early years like Slug?

All of which I love. Of course their first four albums are as legit as they come. As short, sweet and simple as they are, the first four albums each feel like four long songs. Like the four original band members, the four albums are like a shaggy mount rushmore.

But the three songs mentioned above, I just love them. I've spent a lot of time with these songs. I don't know when it began, but I had a little private ritual I developed after leaving my therapists office. These are the three Ramones songs I listen to on my walk back to the train. I love hearing Joey yell at Ronald Reagan for saluting dead Nazis. The song sounds happy enough to be laid under footage of Jack Black showing the School of Rock kids how to gear up for the battle of the bands. But it's Joey yelling about dumb, spineless Ronald Reagan. You've got to pick up the pieces, sort your trash.

Something to Believe In is a perfect song. The first verse:

I wish I was someone else

I'm confused, I'm afraid

I hate the loneliness

and there's nowhere to run to

nothing makes any sense

but I still try my hardest

take my hand

please help me, man

cause I'm looking for

something to believe in

and I don't know where to start

and I don't know where to begin

It's so good. It's so perfect for a post-therapy walk. It's everything I feel, walking out of that office, whether it was a good or bad visit.

if I was stupid or naïve

trying to achieve

what they all call contentness

if people weren't such dicks

and I never made mistakes

maybe then I'd find forgiveness

bitter, funny, finger pointy. The low point. The exasperation and frustration I feel when I'm so sick of trying to rise above the bullshit.

another chorus, a guitar solo, then:

I can't be someone else

I don't feel that it's hopeless

I don't feel that I'm useless

I can't throw it all away

I need some courage to fight my weakness

and with her love

I know with all my heart

I can win

I love the journey I take whenever I sing along to this one. I'm grateful.

And then, Howling at the Moon.

Sha la la la, sha la la la la.

It's mostly just dumb fun. It's a song written by Dee Dee Ramone about smoking pot. It's a hopeful little wish for the future where there's No more narcos, conservatives can cry.

But it's been a long time, about a year since I listened to these songs. And as dumb as this song is, enough time has passed for em to completely forget about the bridge.

Winter turns to summer

Sadness turns to fun

Keep the faith, baby

You broke the rules and won

I reflected on the gloom and the self doubt I was feeling at the time. How it just doesn't seem like it's going to work out for me. The unforgiving city I foolishly dropped myself into, for misguided self centered bright eyed wish fulfillment in showbusiness, of all things. I thought about that little nothing walk from the office back to ugly Union Square Station. Maybe a browse at the second hand books, maybe I was off to meet Ellena somewhere. I missed it all so badly. I'm grateful for this little nothing ritual. It broke me open enough to earnestly begin my day. Thank you.

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