The Ramones are the lesson on how to do it. They worked tirelessly on the road and in the studio. They were great and they knew it. The challenge was bringing the world up to speed.
If you want to hear a band damn near kill their audience, check out The Ramones’ in-concert epic, It’s Alive. They are almost sadistic in how they tear through the songs, seemingly bashing them senseless to get to the next one, as if each song will never be played again and must be given proper trajectory into the stratosphere. They truly achieve something that is bigger than the four of them.
If you never had the chance to stand in front of this band, I dare say you missed out on something truly spectacular. I will never forget the first time I saw them. When they walked onstage and, within 10 seconds, started playing, I thought I was going to explode. The show was the very definition of how powerful true rock music is. I couldn’t understand how they could keep going. It was as full-on a live experience as I have ever had and almost ruined me for going to other shows.
I never did have the chance to see the Ramones live. Being born in 1989, I guess I lucked out. However, my first experience of the band was listing to It’s Alive. My older brother’s girlfriend gave him a copy of it on CD and I remember listening to it over and over again, just being blown away by how intense the music was. A song would still be ringing out as the band screamed “1-2-3-4″ and launched into the next.
Recently, I found a copy of It’s Alive on vinyl at my local record store, and I just had to pick it up. When I dropped the needle, it took me back. To the days when I was just a kid and everything seemed simple. To some extent, I think that’s what the Ramones will always do.
R.I.P Tommy, Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.
To this day, there are few things that excite me quite as much as discovering something amazing in the world of art, music, film or writing.
I experienced that yesterday when I heard the band fIREHOSE for the first time. They were an alt rock band from the United States formed by Mike Watt, George Hurly and Ed Crawford in the wake of D. Boone’s death and the subsequent end of the Minutemen. I’ve been a Minutemen and Mike Watt fan for a long time, particularly enjoying Three Way Tie for Last. But for whatever reason, I never actually gave the Hose a listen. I’m certainly glad I did. I think I’ve played the debut album Ragin’, Full On three times through on the bus home last night and the bus out to work this morning. Punk and jazz influenced college rock with the amazing musicianship you’d expect from the Minutemen’s rhythm section and some quite surprisingly soulful vocals.
I started thinking about the fact that there is an exciting and inspiring amount of work out there just waiting to be found. There are bands that right now, reading this, you have never heard of. And when you do hear them, however that happens, they are going to transform you, just a little. There are books like that too, with characters you haven’t met yet who will someday damn near break your heart. Every time you discover something new and truly wonderful and exciting, it will bring something new to your life. Something enriching. That, let me tell you, is something to be thrilled about.
And the best thing? There is new stuff being created all the time. You can’t run out of it. There are so many pages being written right now, full of so many new combinations of old words. Discovery is, for me, one of the best parts of creating anything.
When I was 16 years old, my best friend and I used to hang out as much as we could at his place.
He was one of the very few people I have ever felt truly understood where I was coming from as a person. We were different people, very different, but we had enough in common that whenever we were together, we would invariably end up dreaming.
Dreams, when you’re younger, can take some pretty laughable forms. When you look back on them, they seem strange, foreign, problematic and eternally embarrassing. Throwing my rather shaky/flaky memory back, I can tell you that with the two of us, most dreams revolved around traveling, writing and playing punk rock music. We were both very prolific readers and we would fill up notebook after notebook with poetry that, in all honesty, probably wasn’t that great. We wanted to write books that would change peoples’ lives. We wanted to create music that would awaken the feelings of freedom and excitement in other people that bands like Minor Threat, Fugazi and Bad Brains had awoken in us.
We had lists of places we were obsessed with. Boston. Washington DC. Paris. Dublin. Berlin. Moscow. Baghdad. Kuwait.
There were horizons that we knew we just had to challenge.
Years later, the fact is that we never did any of those things.
I know that sounds pretty sad, as if our dreams and wishes just fell apart with the passing of time.
But you know what? I’ve never found it all that sad.
Because somewhere along the way, I think those dreams that we had stopped representing things that I wanted.
Those dreams started representing someone that I used to be. Those dreams became just a part of the story.
I’m still going strong, making mistakes and learning. And some day, maybe I’ll end up exploring that list of places, even if I do it alone.
I will write. Perhaps the books I write won’t be amazing, and perhaps they won’t shape the world I live in. But I’ll be proud of them.
Dreams don’t have to come true to be an important part of you and an important part of your life.
The simple fact that you have or have had dreams is what actually matters.