My first experience with the Ramones was when I was in high school marching band.  We never played any Ramones songs as a band, but the sousaphone section, especially Kissyfur and the Real American Hero, thought it was amusing to play “I Wanna Be Sedated” whenever there was a down moment in rehearsal.  Actually, “I Wanna Be Sedated” sounds pretty good on a sousaphone, and it kind of became a running joke throughout our senior year.  Good job, tuba players!

Anyhow, my next experience with the Ramones was about 10 years later, and it wasn’t really with the Ramones at all…instead it was with a local band called the Dead Schembechlers.  See, its kind of hard to explain the Dead Schembechlers…they are sort of a fake band, but not really.  And the whole thing is sort of an ongoing joke, but not really.  Basically, the Schembechlers are 4 die hard Ohio State football fans (2 from the local band Watershed, 1 from the band Twin Cam, and a radio DJ) who play one concert every couple of years on the night before the OSU/Michigan game.  They dress like Woody Hayes and play punk rock knock-offs with the lyrics changed to become either pro-OSU or anti-scUM anthems.  It’s a beautiful thing, but it only happens once every couple of years.  And to maintain the joke, the band members have created characters on stage (like the Ramones, they have all adopted some variation on the name Bo), and when on stage they never break character and in real life they never admit to being that character (for example, at Watershed shows Colin and Joe will sometimes refer to their “friends”, the legendary Dead Schembechlers).  Like I said, its a beautiful thing.

At any rate, despite the play on the name of the Dead Kennedys, the Ramones seem to be the Schembechler’s biggest influence.  Their symbol is a parody of the Ramone’s eagle symbol (the Schembechler’s is a skeletal eagle holding buckeye leaves) and two of their album titles have parodied the Ramones: “Rocket to Ann Arbor” instead of “Rocket to Russia” and “Rodriquez to Ruin” instead of “Road to Ruin” (the latter even parodies the cover replacing the cartoon images of the Ramones with cartoon images of the Schembechlers).  But most importantly, the Schembechler’s most recognizable song is a version of “Blitzkrieg Bop” changed to become “Buckeye Bop” with the “Hey ho, let’s go!” lyric altered to “Hey ho, fuck Bo!” (a direct assault on Ohio’s greatest traitor, Bo Schembechler).  I first heard the Schembechlers play this song along with the rest of their “hits” at a small show at Oldfield’s On High (now Kobo) in the fall of 2004.  The next year, they had become a local sensation and they played a much larger show at Little Brothers (now defunct).  The year after that, OSU was ranked #1 and scUM was ranked #2 and hype for the game was at an all time high.  The Schembechlers were scheduled to play a sold-out show at the Newport Music Hall when tragedy struck…Bo Schembechler was in Columbus for the game and he died the morning of the show.  That’s right…Bo Schembechler died on the day the Dead Schembechlers were scheduled to play their biggest show ever.  Well, the show must go on, and they played anyway, although they did soften the chorus of “Buckeye Bop” to “O-H-I-O” (try it…it fits) and they vowed to changed the band name to The Bastard Sons of Woody (they did for a little while, but it didn’t stick).  Oh yeah, and OSU beat scUM 42-39 the next day, and to this day I believe that much like the end of Return of the Jedi, the ghost of Bo Schembechler repented his ways and joined the ghost of Woody to bring prosperity to Columbus and blight to Ann Arbor (while we didn’t win a national title, OSU continued to win Big Ten titles for the next several years while scUM lost to Appalacian State and Toledo and  Lloyd Carr retired, which led to 3 dismal seasons under Rich Rodriquez).

Rocket to Ann ArborRodriquez to Ruin

But yeah, the Ramones.  Fun album.  The first copy I bought on Amazon had the wrong CD in the case, so the seller gave me a refund and I bought this copy for $7.97.  It’s a dreaded post-2000 remaster, but it sounds good.  I appreciate how simple these songs are, and I wouldn’t expect the birth of punk rock to be any other way.  And the lyrics are hilarious.  Good stuff.

Other lists: “Blitzkrieg Bop” is #92 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Johnny Ramone is #28 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and the Ramones are #26 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

My favorite track: “Blitzkrieg Bob”

Honorable mention: “Havana Affair”

Quote: “I used to make a living, man, pickin’ the banana.  Now I’m a guide for the CIA — Hooray for the USA!”