Why the Ramones Matter, Tommy Ramone & Opinions on Chance the Rapper

Back in the 1970s, punk was shorthand for a subculture that took pride in breaking the mainstream's mold. And at the vanguard of punk rock was The Ramones. Jim and Greg explore the cultural contributions of the band, beyond the myth, with the author of Why The Ramones Matter, Donna Gaines. Plus, they revisit their 2007 conversation with the late Tommy Ramone. They also review the latest from Chicago's Chance the Rapper.

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Chance The Rapper The Big Day

Chance The Rapper's“debut album,”The Big Day, is one of the most anticipated albums of 2019. His third mixtape, Coloring Book, was the first streaming-only release to win a Grammy award- three, in fact, including Rap Album of the Year. Since then Chance has expanded his focus beyond music: producing stadium concerts, supporting local politicians, donating $1 million to Chicago Public Schools and buying the news website, Chicagoist. The Big Day features many guest performers including Death Cab For Cutie, Shawn Mendes, Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj, John Legend and Randy Newman.

At 19 songs (plus three skits) and 82 minutes running time, Jim and Greg agree the album is too long. The Big Day is referencing Chance's recent wedding to his longtime girlfriend, which is the most common topic discussed in the songs. Some critics consider the subject matter uncool, though Greg doesn't count himself among them. Jim and Greg both cite the confessional lyrics of "We Go High" as a noble gesture of honesty, but ultimately find the treatment of weighty topics such as fidelity, mortality and parenthood lack depth. They both feel Chance is capable of much more complexity in his lyrics, though they find the production and performances on most songs to be very enjoyable. Jim says with more brutal honesty, this album could have been a masterpiece. Greg acknowledges that with so much celebration and without deep reflection the album can be a chore to get through.


Donna Gaines

This week, Jim and Greg present another installment of our Summer School series. This time, they're tackling a question that may be obvious to some: Why do the Ramones Matter?
The Ramones formed in Queens, New York in 1974. The original line-up was lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, bass guitarist Dee Dee Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone. And although they were never at the top of the charts, their influence on both punk music and on American culture at large is undeniable. The hosts were joined by Donna Gaines, sociologist, journalist, and author of the book Why The Ramones Matter, to discuss the musical, social, and even political contributions of the band.

classic album dissectionRocket to Russia

The Ramones Rocket to Russia

In 1976, The Ramones blasted onto the budding punk scene with their self-titled first LP and blew critics away with their blistering speed and old-school simplicity. However, it wasn't until the next year, after a monumental European tour and the release of their third album, Rocket to Russia, that the group's characteristic break-neck punk sound flooded the airwaves and the took the rock world by storm. This week, Jim and Greg revisit a Classic Album Dissection of The Ramones' 1977 speed machine featuring their 2007 conversation with drummer and producer Tommy Ramone. Jim and Greg, curious about the magic behind masters of punk, ask Tommy about the day-to-day during the recording process and the band's cross-pond rivalry with British punk group the Sex Pistols. Tommy tells all, including the story of the band's suburban origins and the secret behind Dee Dee's famous, though not-so-useful count-offs.

To stake their flag in the dissection's conclusion, Jim and Greg each choose their favorite song from Rocket to Russia. Jim plays "Sheena is a Punk Rocker", calling it the“perfect rock song”and reminiscing about his young days listening to The Ramones. Greg settles on the song "We're a Happy Family" as a representation of the Ramones knack for writing catchy social commentary. The song satirizes the idea of perfect suburban family life represented so often by TV programs at the time, a poignant topic for the suburban-boy Ramones from Queens, New York.

Featured Songs

  1. Ramones, Judy Is A Punk, Ramones, Sire, 1976
  2. Chance The Rapper, Zanies and Fools, The Big Day, N/A, 2019
  3. Chance The Rapper, The Big Day, The Big Day, N/A, 2019
  4. Chance The Rapper, Ballin Flossin, The Big Day, N/A, 2019
  5. Chance The Rapper, Paranoia (feat. Lili K & Nosaj Thing), Acid Rap, N/A, 2013
  6. Chance The Rapper, We Go High, The Big Day, N/A, 2019
  7. Chance The Rapper, 5 Year Plan, The Big Day, N/A, 2019
  8. Ramones, I Wanna Be Sedated, Road To Ruin, Sire, 1978
  9. Ramones, I Can't Be (Demo), All That Stuff And More (Vol. 1), Sire, 1990
  10. Ramones, Pinhead, It's Alive, Sire, 1979
  11. Ramones, Blitzkrieg Bop (single version), Blitzkrieg Bop (single), Sire, 1976
  12. Ramones, Oh Oh I Love Her So, Leave Home, Sire, 1977
  13. Ramones, I Don't Care, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  14. Ramones, Listen To My Heart, Ramones, Sire, 1976
  15. Green Day, American Idiot, American Idiot, Reprise, 2004
  16. Ramones, It's Not My Place, Pleasant Dreams, Sire, 1981
  17. Ramones, Do You Wanna Dance, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  18. Ramones, Rockaway Beach, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  19. Ramones, Teen Age Lobotomy, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  20. Ramones, Cretin Hop, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  21. Sex Pistols, God Save The Queen, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Polydor, 1977
  22. Ramones, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  23. The Rolling Stones, Tell Me, The Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hit Makers), Polydor, 1964
  24. Ramones, I Can't Give You Anything, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  25. Ramones, We're a Happy Family, Rocket To Russia, Sire, 1977
  26. Robert Johnson, Cross Road Blues, Cross Road Blues (single), Vocalion, 1937
  27. Young the Giant, Call Me Back, Mirror Master, Elektra, 2018
  28. Duff McKagan, Tenderness, Tenderness, Universal Music Enterprises, 2019
  29. D'Angelo, Alright, Brown Sugar, Virgin, 1995
  30. Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, I'm the Slime, Over-Nite Sensation, DiscReet, 1973
  31. David Bowie, Moonage Daydream, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, RCA Victor, 1972