I’m now older (by a few weeks) than Joey Ramone when he died.
The time you discover there’s life outside school, outside your family, outside your immediate environs, that’s the real important time in life. It’s when your tastes, your sense of being, your ideals and morals and sexual preferences coalesce and become real: adolescence shapes your future life. Yet it’s also a period that is rarefied to the extreme – and that’s why rock’n’roll bands always refer back to it, however old they become. Rock bands utilise the teen ideal in their lyrical imagery: see a girl, walk in the park and hang out – Carbona or soda pop, it’s your drug of choice. Ramones songs, too, hark back to that time.
“Wait,” says Joey Ramone, confused. “Can you repeat that again? When you’re young and you’re in a structured situation and you want to break away … which song in particular are you talking about?”
Your band’s oeuvre is shot through with classic teen angst in the style of the doomed 60s girl groups – “My-My Kind Of A Girl”, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, “All Screwed Up” …
“That last one is basically about … it’s about life.” Joey laughs. “It’s about fucking up. It’s also about how you’ve got to live it the way you learn it, even though you might never really learn it.” The singer pauses, considers the question. “It’s the story of my life. You never really know and you might never really ever learn. Relationships are the hardest to figure out. I don’t believe in giving up.
“When you’re about 15, 16, that’s when you start to learn how to live and stay alive,” he continues. “You learn the ways of the street or else you get fucked. What they teach you in school doesn’t prepare you for life. Textbooks don’t compare to living in the real world. Rock’n’roll teaches you how to live. When it’s your money, and it affects you directly, that’s when you wake up. If you don’t know how to count and spell or read and write, you’ll get fucked with.”
(from Hey Ho, Let’s Go: The Story Of The Ramones)