This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #432: Sheena is a Punk Rocker by The Ramones.
Many fans and music critics state that The Ramones were the first, real punk rock band anywhere in the world. They were formed in the early 1970s in New York. Although all of the members of the band all went by the last name, “Ramone”, none of them were actually named “Ramone” nor were any of them even related. They were a group of friends who came together to play a style of music that was, in their opinion, as minimalist and pure a form of rock n’ roll as was possible to play at the time. The early 70s was a time known as the height of “Prog. Rock”. Bands like Yes, early Genesis and, even Canada’s own, Rush, were all producing rock-opera style epic works based upon mythology and philosophy. The Ramones were four guys, all wearing long Beatles-esque mop top cuts, leather jackets, jeans, sneakers and white t-shirts, who played complete sets of music in less than thirty minutes. Most songs were two minutes or less in duration and all were played at lightning speed, after a quick “1-2-3-4!” to get them all started.
The Ramones were Joey (lead singer), DeeDee (bass), Johnny (guitarist) and Tommy (on drums). They had several songs that were not hits at the time of their release but, which have become respected classics with the passing of time such as, “Blitzkreig Bop”, “I Wanna Be Sedated”, “Rock n’ Roll Highschool”, “Rockaway Beach” and “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”. At the time that The Ramones first started playing for live audience at clubs such as CBGBs, there was no term nor genre dedicated to the style of music they played. “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” is noteworthy because it was the very first time that a Ramones song cracked the Top 100 Singles Chart and, as well, it was the very first time the term, “Punk Rocker” was used in a song or song title. Punk Rock became a recognized genre of music because of The Ramones. Their early concerts inspired peers such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash. In Canada, their first concerts inspired groups like Teenage Head to form and begin carving out a Punk Rock identity there. In the US, The Ramones helped spawn noted Punk Rockers such as Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys. A line of influence can be drawn from The Ramones to Grunge-era bands like Nirvana, to more recent groups like Green day and The Dropkick Murphys out of Boston.
The Ramones were named for the assumed name Paul McCartney initially used when checking into hotels in the early days of The Beatles and The Silver Beatles, which was “Paul Ramon”. Although The Ramones played a hard, fast punk style, songs like “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” are clearly influenced by Rock legends like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Many of their songs contain Pop-influences and are not as “angry” nor political as what was to come from the punk bands that emerged in their wake.
“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” is based upon the comic book, “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle” and is a very short, fast story about Sheena, “a primitive girl” being brought into modern times and enjoying punk music. The song symbolizes what The Ramones were trying to do with their music which was, to bring American music (and the world) into modern times. They are the poster child for a band whose legacy is not based upon record sales but, upon influence. They were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 in their first year of eligibility. They were the originators of a completely new musical genre and have impacted the musical landscape for over a half-century since. Enjoy, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”. It is musical history in the making in two minutes or less! 1-2-3-4, Go!
The link to the music video for Sheena is a Punk Rocker by The Ramones can be found here.
The Ramones have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.
Thanks for KEXP for supporting Punk music and all other genres of great music, too. A link to their website can be found here.