This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #83: Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones.
If it is true that every music genre has its anthem then, many would say that “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones would be a good choice for those who love Punk Rock. It was a song that was their first single from their debut album and, as such, it introduced us to a band that came to be the face of Punk music in America in the late 1970s and into the 80s. If you recall from an earlier countdown profile, The Ramones coined the term, “Punk Rock” with their song, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”. But, for those who came to love The Ramones and/or to be influenced by how they played, (such as Green Day and The Foo Fighters, for just two quick examples) much of their charm and identity can all be derived from that first song, “Blitzkrieg Bop”.
First of all, the word, “Blitzkrieg” is a German word and gained popularity during the Second World War. When Germany declared war on neighbouring Poland, they launched an offensive attack known as a blitzkrieg or “lightning war”. In a blitzkrieg style of attack, everything happened quickly, without any let up at all. Speed is of the essence. So, applying that to The Ramones, their style of play is fast, too. They are known for their lightning-quick guitar work. Most of their songs are two minutes long or less. The speed with which The Ramones played gave their music a frantic quality; a form of energy that was felt by their audiences in a way that no one else in America was playing at that time. And, like the German offensive, at a Ramones concert, there is no let up between songs. It was one song, right into the next and then, the next one after that, until their set was finished and their audience drained.
The second thing that we can learn from their song, “Blitzkrieg Bop” is the “Bop” part. As much as many Punk bands came off as being angry and wanting to destroy societal structures as they believed them to be, The Ramones were not like that at all. In fact, they were as influenced as much by the harmonies of The Beach Boys and the pure Pop of groups like The Bay City Rollers, as anything else. At the beginning of the song, the band chants, “Hey Ho, let’s go!”…..that was inspired by the opening of “Saturday Night” by The Bay City Rollers.
There is really nothing Shakespearean about “Blitzkrieg Bop”. But, it remains as one of our most important songs because it opened the musical doors in America to Punk music and, at the same time, showed how Punk and Pop and Alternative music could all be integrated together to create a brand of music that didn’t exist previously. The Ramones were innovators for their time, every bit as much as The Beatles were twenty years earlier.
So, without further delay, let’s get to listening to the iconic debut single by The Ramones called “Blitzkrieg Bop”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Ramones, can be found here.
*Both the Green Day and Foo Fighter covers are great. What energy! What fun!
The link to the video for the song, “Blitzkrieg Bop” as covered by Green Day, can be found here.
The link to the video for the song, “Blitzkrieg Bop” as covered by The Foo Fighters, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting all manner of artists and bands, regardless of genre. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.