|A print by Todd Alcott, conjuring a phony pulp paperback. THIS is awesome.|
The Ramones' "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" was covered as a GREM! blog post on November 22, 2017. I have slightly revamped and expanded the original piece, adding material from a separate essay to form the new version as it will eventually appear in my book. Here it is.
An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!
THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
And the world changed. Everything was different. Nothing was the same.
The single's real-world Billboard chart peak of # 81 was probably a disappointment to Stein--it certainly sounded like a Top 40 smash, or better--but it did chart. No previous Ramones record had done that, nor had any other previous punk or new wave or label du jour artist managed it either. One suspects the perceived image of those dangerous, degenerate punks scared away the superstitious and cowardly lot we know as radio programmers. It was a missed opportunity to reclaim the glory of rock 'n' roll radio at its very best. It wasn't the slick corporate product against which punk rebelled, nor was it the angry nihilism that punk was known for; it was something else altogether: it was pure glee. For those who heard "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" with open ears in 1977, it was a magical welcome from a brighter, better pop world.
It was for me, anyway.
The other day, I heard someone on the radio refer to "I Wanna Be Sedated" as the definitive Ramones track. Some would argue passionately on behalf of "Blitzkrieg Bop" instead, and either would present a compelling, convincing case. But only one record changed my life. The Greatest Record Ever Made? Oh yes. The kids are all hopped and ready to go. New York City really has it all. And Sheena is the queen of the urban jungle. Pop music conquers all.
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