Ramones are the beach boys of punk rock and the inventors of pop punk. While I feel like they never made a perfect album, they never made a bad one. I’ve always been impressed with what they managed to accomplished while working within the constraints they set for themselves. Not being ‘musicians’, as Johnny would say, never stopped them from making great songs.
This is the list of their 10 greatest songs (covers included), spanning all of their 20+ year run:
10. Love Kills
The list starts off with a Dee Dee deep cut. This song chronicles Sid and Nancy’s mutual destruction and obviously draw’s from Dee Dee’s own personal experience with addiction. It’s my favourite song with Dee Dee on lead vocals, perfectly captures the grittier side of the Ramones.
9. Howl at the Moon
A perfectly executed Joey sung, Dee Dee penned pop song protesting the futility of the war on drugs.
Another Dee Dee classic about feeling like a weirdo. It’s an underrated song, it should have been a hit.
7. I Wanna Be Sedated
The perfect pop punk song. Johnny is sourced as saying that when this didn’t chart, he gave up on the idea of the band ever being a stadium filler. But jokes on him! Now this song get played in baseball stadiums to thousands.
6. The KKK Took My Baby Away
On the surface it’s about racist hate crimes, but legend has it that it’s really about Johnny stealing Joey’s girlfriend. I always wondered what was running through Johnny’s head every time he had to play it.
5. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Perfect example of the Ramones mixing surf and bubblegum pop with the speed and energy of punk.
4. Do You Wanna Dance?
This Bobby Freeman song is a classic, but it just feels perfect with the Ramones buzzsaw instrumentation and Joey’s weird voice.
3. Pet Sematary
Only Dee Dee could take a novel/movie tie-in and make it introspective and beautiful. That’s what’s great about the Ramones, they can take anything from pop-culture and turn it into something beautiful.
2. My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitsburg)
A anti-Reagan punk song from Joey. Johnny made Joey change the name because he loved Reagan. It’s a perfect song and a big hit for the band, Johnny just had to stomach the anti-Republican nature of the lyrics and collect his pay check. I guess that’s sweet revenge for Joey.
1. Poison Heart
Dee Dee’s best song. The song sums up Dee Dee as a person, juxtaposing his faults with his will to survive. Absolutely tragic in the wake of his heroin overdose.
Whaaaaaaatttt? No Blitzkrieg Bop???
Writing Score Sheet:
Dee Dee: 5
Bobby Freeman: 1
Joey and Dee Dee dominate the list to no-one’s surprise. I guess that makes Johnny the Ringo of the band (haha). It’s worth noting that although the other writers didn’t make the list, Tommy’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’, Richie’s ’Somebody Put Something in My Drink’, and many others are great songs.
Brain Drain: 1
Mondo Bizzarro: 1
Too Tough To Die: 1
Rocket to Russia: 2
Animal Boy: 2
Subterranean Jungle: 1
Pleasant Dreams: 1
Road to Ruin: 1
Our list seems pretty varied, and spans their entire career. It’s almost a cliche to say that all the Ramones songs sound the same and never show artistic growth. Looking over the decades spanning list, with songs that sound completely different, growth is impossible to deny. I’m surprised the first album didn’t have any cuts that made the list, I’m less shocked about ‘End of the Century’ not making it.
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