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In Their Own Write: Handwritten lyrics by Nick Cave, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Kate Bush and more

Beat writer Alexander Trocchi was wise to the easy money to be made from selling handwritten drafts of famous works of literature. When short of cash for his drug habit, Trocchi would write out in longhand one of his novels (Young Adam, White Thighs, whichever) and sell it on to some collector as the one and only original handwritten manuscript. It kept him from finding a job or worse, from writing something new. Across London and Paris there’s probably dozens of these supposed “originals” cobbled together by Trocchi in his moment of need.

If Trocchi had lived and tried the same today, he would probably have been found out for his ruse as the market for original handwritten drafts to books, poetry and pop songs is now a mega business.

Last year, Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “Like A Rolling Stone” was sold at auction for $2 million. In 2005, John Lennon’s pen-drafted words for “All You Need is Love” made $1.25 million at auction, while in April 2015, Don Maclean’s handwritten lyric sheet for “American Pie” sold for $1,205,000.

Handwritten pop lyrics are as valuable as works of art—in fact they are works of art—as in this digital age where everything is written by keyboard, the value of such pen-scrawled texts on legal pad or hotel note paper only increase in value year on year. Though the top ten most expensive lyric sheets are about 2/3 the work of John Lennon (4) and Bob Dylan (2), there are plenty of other musicians out there who are finding their first drafts to popular songs offer them or their inheritors a comfortable pension.
David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Jean Genie’ made $29,063 at auction.
Bowie: Lyric detail for ‘Jean Genie.’
Ziggy jams with a ballpoint pen: David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
One of Nick Cave’s many notebooks with original lyrics for ‘No Pussy Blues.’
Cave’s typed lyrics for ‘Push the Sky Away.’
No notebook or typewriter for Joey Ramone—the lyrics for ‘Disassembled’ were written on an old Alka Seltzer box.
More original pop lyrics, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Joey and Marky Ramone mock George Bush on Howard Stern, Republican Johnny does not

The partisan animosity within The Ramones is arguably the most fascinating political subtext in punk history. Most famous is the story that “The KKK Took My Baby Away” was left-wing Joey’s kiss-off song to right-wing Johnny, who had recently taken up with Joey’s girlfriend. Joey’s brother disputes this interpretation, maintaining that the song actually referenced an ill-fated romance between Joey and a black woman, but the lyrics indicate a clear streak of a bleeding heart, regardless. There is also Johnny’s famous acceptance speech at the band’s induction into the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, where he proclaimed “God bless President Bush, and God bless America” during that oh-so-embarrassing post-9/11 era of G.W love. There were other internecine jabs and some of them were in public.

The clip below is from one of The Ramones’ memorable appearances on The Howard Stern Show—this segment from 1990 probably didn’t help ameliorate the animosity between Joey and Johnny. The sketch features Billy West—best known as the voices of Ren of Ren and Stimpy and Fry from Futurama—as an oblivious President Bush. With surprisingly good comedic timing, Joey and Marky set up West to portray Bush as cavalier and avoidant, preferring golf to the responsibilities of the presidency (sound familiar?).

One can presume from Johnny’s political record (and his lack of participation) that he was not amused by such irreverent humor at the expense of our then commander-in chief.

Note Howard bemoaning his resemblance to Joey and the reference to Dee Dee’s mercifully brief career as a rapper under the name Dee Dee King,

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Joey Ramone and his proud mom on ‘Geraldo’
09:30 pm


Joey Ramone
Geraldo Rivera

Birthday boy Joey towers center, mother Charlotte Lesher is on the right.
Geraldo Rivera is an idiot, and The Geraldo Rivera Show was Oprah on crack, minus the nuance, double the audience manipulation. But—and this is a big “but” here—there is some quality entertainment to be had in the trashy daytime TV of yesteryear. There was the trend of the day, of course—drumming up the public panic on Satanism, but Geraldo also liked to run features on famous people’s moms—a surprisingly interesting subject, especially when guests actually seemed to get along with their parents.

The clip here is from an episode titled “Heavy Metal Moms”—I can’t pinpoint the date, but the density of hair bands should tip you off. Apparently Geraldo wasn’t clear on the genre of Heavy Metal, because the line-up included Steve West of Danger Danger, Joe Leste of Bang Tango, Kristy Majors of Pretty Boy Floyd, and Mark Craney of Jethro Tull and… Joey Ramone (plus all their moms)! I gotta’ say, Jeffrey Ross Hyman (Joey’s real name) and his darling mother Charlotte Lesher are really sweet together—she’s incredibly supportive, even singing a little of “Beat on the Brat” and “I Wanna Be Sedated!” Joey’s sister-in-law also pops up in the crowd. What a happy family!

Thanks to Kenzo Shibata

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Joey Ramone sings John Cage (and it’s awesome)
10:45 am


John Cage
Joey Ramone
James Joyce

I’m far from an expert on John Cage, but of the works of his I know, I find “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs” to be among the loveliest. Since it’s short, simple to perform, and its haunting melody is easier on the listener than a lot of other 20th Century classical music, it’s one of his most oft-performed works, as well, and YouTube is full of fantastic versions. Cage composed it in 1942, limiting the vocalist to three notes and further instructing him/her to sing in a flat affect, avoiding vibrato. The musical accompaniment was written for a piano with the lid shut on its keys, the pianist directed to make percussive taps with his/her fingertips and knuckles in various places on the piano’s outside, including the bottom. This video shows that process quite clearly, and here’s what the notation looks like:

Musicologist Lauriejean Reinhardt had much to say in her illuminating essay on the history and meaning of the piece. (If this stuff doesn’t interest you and you just want to hear the Joey Ramone rendition, skip all the way to the end, no one has to know.)

Cage composed “The Wonderful Widow” in response to a commission from the soprano Janet Fairbank (1903-1947), whom he had met during his brief appointment at the Chicago Institute of Design in 1941-1942. Fairbank was an ambitious amateur singer from a wealthy family with close ties to the Chicago arts community … Endowed with modest vocal abilities, Fairbank nevertheless endeared herself to critics and advocates of modern music by her tasteful and intelligent performances and her tireless promotion of contemporary music.

Her interest in Cage proved prescient, for the Carnegie Hall recital that occasioned the setting of “The Wonderful Widow” coincided with the composer’s now-famous concert at the Museum of Modern Art, an event that placed the young Cage at the vanguard of modern music.

Evidently given free reign to prepare the song’s lyrics, Cage selected the paean to Isobel from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, a passage that not only gave him a theme, and some lines to lift directly, but also the piece’s title. Frankly, I find the sparseness of Cage’s interpretation a relief from the difficult density of Joyce. From Reinhardt again:

Cage’s song text, condensed and rearranged from Joyce’s original, only intensifies the lyrical dimension of the passage, for it highlights both the sylvan imagery with which the child is described (“wildwood’s eyes and primarose hair,” “like some losthappy leaf,” “like blowing flower stilled”) and a number of key alliterative phrases (“in mauves of moss and daphnedews,” “win me, woo me, wed me, ah weary me!”) that give rise to the passage’s lilting lyricism.

Compare Cage’s lyrics below to the passage from Joyce here.

night by silent sailing night,
wildwoods eyes and primarose hair,
all the woods so wild
in mauves of moss and daphne dews
how all so still she lay
‘neath of the white thorn,
child of tree
like some lost happy leaf
like blowing flower stilled
as fain would she anon
for soon again ‘twill be,
win me, woo me, wed me,
ah! weary me
now even calm lay sleeping
Sister Isobel,
Saintette Isobel,
Madame Isa Veuve La Belle.


The 1993 compilation Caged/Uncaged - A Rock/Experimental Homage To John Cage features contributions from punk and artrock figures like Lee Ranaldo, Arto Lindsay, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Elliot Sharp and Ann Magnuson, and is available to hear and download for free on the wonderful UbuWeb. And on that comp, “The Wonderful Widow Of Eighteen Springs” was performed—stunningly—by Joey Ramone. The timbres of his voice are somehow perfect for this song. It may be that I find the familiarity of his singing comforting, but I think this completely dusts some (SOME) versions by trained operatic singers. It sounds like the percussion is performed here on regular drums instead of a closed piano.

I resignedly anticipate opprobrium from the purists.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Sugar skulls of the dead: Dia de los Muertos portraits of Blondie, the Ramones, Lemmy and more
11:51 am


Joey Ramone

Blondie Parallel Lines Sugar Skull art by Ganbatte
Blondie Parallel Lines sugar skull album cover
Leisha Ganbatte is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Barcelona, Spain who enjoys creating sugar skull versions of punks like Blondie and the Ramones. Ganbatte’s designs appear on everything from posters to pillows and she’s even got a line of cat inspired stickers that feature images of Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie as Aladdin Sane. Ganbatte’s latest subject is the one and only Morrissey whose image she has emblazoned on a line of stickers along with lyrics from the Moz’s solo catalog. Swoon! Prices vary from item to item. Examples of the ridiculously cool stuff that is available in Ganbatte’s Etsy store follow.
Ramones by Ganbatte
Joey Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Joey Ramone
Dee Dee Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone
Buddy Holly sugar skull by Ganbatte
Buddy Holly
Lemmy cat sticker by Ganbatte
Lemmy cat sticker
Aladdin Sane cat sticker by Ganbatte
Aladdin Sane cat sticker
Morrissey stickers by Ganbatte
Morrissey stickers
Joey Ramone pillow
Joey Ramone pillow
Dee Dee Ramone pillow by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone pillow

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Joey Ramone’s Wall Street crush: Maria Bartiromo talks about her favorite Ramone
02:03 pm


Joey Ramone
Maria Bartiromo

Maria Bartiromo is a popular finance reporter who has worked for CNN and CNBC television. She was the first reporter to broadcast live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has won a slew of journalism awards and is in the Cable Hall of Fame. She’s also someone who Joey Ramone had a heavy crush on. Joey invested in the stock market and was an avid fan of Bartiromo’s and watched her TV appearances religiously.

Joey used to email Bartiromo to ask for stock tips, as she told The Guardian in 2006:

“I started getting emails from him and he would say Maria, what do you think about Intel or what do you think about AOL and I thought who is this person emailing me? It’s crazy, he’s calling himself Joey Ramone. Sure enough it was him and we developed this friendship. And he was attuned to the markets. He really understood his own investment portfolio. Joey Ramone was a fantastic investor.”

He even wrote and recorded an ode to his money muse “Maria Bartiromo” which appeared on his solo album Don’t Worry About Me released posthumously in 2002.

“What’s happening on Wall Street
What’s happening at the stock exchange
I want to know
What’s happening on Squawk Box
What’s happening with my stocks
I want to know
I watch you on the TV every single day
Those eyes make everything OK
I watch her every day
I watch her every night
She’s really out of sight
Maria Bartiromo
Maria Bartiromo
Maria Bartiromo”


“He said to me Maria, I wrote a song about you and he said just come down to CBGBs in Manhattan, be there at midnight. I said, Joey, I’m sorry to tell you but I have to be on the air at 6am and I can’t be anywhere at midnight except in my bed, so I didn’t go.” She did, however, send a camera crew. “Sure enough, the cameraman came back with the tape and there’s him and his band with this song Maria Bartiromo and I just love it. It’s a tremendous tribute. I just love that. It’s great, just great.”

In this clip Bartiromo reflects on her friendship with Joey and what it was like to be honored in song by a Ramone.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Loudmouth Morton Downey Jr. yacks about punk rock with Joey Ramone and Ace Frehley

I watched the Morton Downey, Jr. documentary, Evocateur, the other night (it’s streaming on Amazon) and was reminded of how much fun that loudmouth could be back when his TV show ran on WWOR in New York City in the late 80s. Drawing from local talent, Downey often featured some very cool guests. In this particular episode from February 1989 on punk and metal, Downey, wearing a goofy earring in his ear, is uncharacteristically even-tempered and and downright civil to his guests Joey Ramone, Ace Frehley, members of The Cycle Sluts and my label-mates Circus Of Power. It all makes for some great television, short on facts or insight, but full of the anarchic energy and mayhem triggered by Downey’s unpredictable and explosive gasbagotry.

When Downey does come on strong, it’s fun to watch these rockers cower like kids being lectured by an overbearing slightly psychotic teacher.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Loudmouth: Before there was Glenn Beck, Breitbart or Sean Hannity there was Morton Downey Jr.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Gabba Gabba once, Gabba Gabba twice’: Joey Ramone’s personal items going up for auction
03:50 pm


Joey Ramone


From RR Auction:

Joey Ramone, famed front man of the Ramones, was the real deal. And the personal property from his private estate are definitely the genuine article. Selected items to be presented by RR Auction include a stage-worn leather jacket and pants, a pair of his trademark shades, guitars, hand-written notes and song lyrics, as well as his personal vintage record and poster collections. Refer to our online catalog for a complete listing of items in this exclusive first-time offering. And make them your own.

The auction will happen on 2/21/2013. Go here for more information.

Joey Ramone’s original “Chop Suey” lyrics
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Ramones: 28 Songs in 63 Minutes, Ann Arbor 1981

‘We are. We are The Ramones. And you, you heard it first, right here,’ says Joey Ramone at the start of this gig from October 5th, 1981. The ‘right here’ was the Second Chance Saloon, Ann Arbor, which was one of The Ramones’ favorite clubs. The concert lasts just over an hour, and The Ramones get through 28 songs. Sometimes you need it hard and fast, so here it is.

Track Listing:

01. “Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?”
02. “Do You Wanna Dance?”
03. “Blitzkrieg Bop”
04. “This Business Is Killing Me”
05. “All’s Quiet On The Eastern Front”
06. “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment”
07. “Rock & Roll High School”
08. “I Wanna Be Sedated”
09. “Beat On The Brat”
10. “The KKK Took My Baby Away”
11. “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”
12. “You Sound Like You’re Sick”
13. “Suzy Is A Headbanger”
14. “Let’s Dance”
15. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”
16. “I’m Affected”
17. “Chinese Rock”
18. “Rockaway Beach”
19. “Teenage Lobotomy”
20. “Surfin’ Bird”
21. “Cretin Hop”
22. “California Sun”
23. “Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World”
24. “Pinhead”
25. “Come On Now”
26. “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You”
27. “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”
28. “We Want The Airwaves”

Then the tape cuts out before the last 2 songs, which were “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do” and “We’re A Happy Family”. But hey-ho, it was good while it lasted.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘We are da woild’: Joey Ramone’s new video celebrates New York punk
02:02 pm


Joey Ramone

New Joey Ramone video for his song “New York City” from his posthumous solo album, Ya Know, released earlier this year.

Some CBGB legends and hardcore New Yorkers give a shout at to the Big Apple - including Tommy Ramone, Anthony Bourdain, Andy Shernoff, Andrew WK (a New Yorker in spirit), Reggie Watts, Tish & Snooky Bellomo,  David Godlis, Ed Stasium, Ricky Byrd, JP Patterson and Mickey Leigh.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Happy birthday Joey Ramone: Rock n’ roll re-animator
03:31 am


Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone in Denver with my friend Eric. 1977.
Okay, if you follow my posts on Dangerous Minds you know I’m a hardcore Ramones fan. Along with The Clash, Patti Smith and Television, the Ramones defibrillated my rock n’ roll heart in 1976 with their debut record - 14 songs pounded out in under 30 minutes.

With the exception of some glam bands, reggae, jazz cats and old blues re-issues, I wasn’t listening to music in the early 70s as fervently as I had during the psychedelic Sixties. But the year 1976 changed all that. When it came to rock n’ roll it was a very good year. And The Ramones first record made it a very very very good year. I was so knocked out by the “brothers” from Queens, that I started my own punk band, The Ravers, and a year later opened for The Ramones in a small club in Denver.

In 1977, The Ravers re-located to New York City and I spent almost every night at either CBGB or Max’s and my band played both clubs countless times. It was inevitable that I’d come to know Joey Ramone. While we were by no means best friends, we did share more than a few beers with each other and passionately exchanged our views on the one thing that mattered most to us: rock music.

Joey was a shy guy, almost painfully so. But if you gained his trust and he got comfortable with you, he was a wonderful person to talk to - smart, with a dry sense of humor and a sweet disposition. I liked him…a lot. And I miss him and Johnny and Dee Dee profoundly.

When rock n’ roll is your religion, as it is mine, you feel a deep debt to the indispensably essential artists who rescue the music during those critical times when a combination of greed, narrowmindedeness and apathy threaten to destroy what means so much to you. I measure my life not in years but in increments rooted in memories of a string of epiphanies related to rock, sex, drugs, books and movies.

I have forgotten so much over the years. But there are things I’ll never forget, things wrapped around my DNA tighter than a cock ring on John Holmes’ pecker: my first fuck, my first introduction to Kerouac’s On The Road, the first time I saw El Topo, my first acid trip, my daughter’s birth (definitely a rock n’ roll moment), and the first time I heard The Ramones. Like gods hovering over Olympian mountains, these memories loom large in my brain and lodge themselves in my body like invisible visceral tattoos.

It may sound shallow to admit to such a pop culture oriented theosophy, but I’m a shallow motherfucker and, as much as I’d like to think otherwise, I’m heavy into the cheap thrills that keep my prick hard, my heart pumping and fuel the ongoing urge to get up in the morning.

Some people draw spiritual sustenance from Jesus and Mohamed. Some from a diet of brown rice and bean sprouts. Others get off on yoga asanas and mega-doses of vitamin B. And then there are the freaks like me who find God in the almighty power chord that resonates thru my flesh and bones transforming my being into a 190 pound tuning fork made of meat, blood and cum. Hallelujah! 

Happy birthday Joey Ramone, you’re a fuckin’ god!

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Listen to Joey Ramone’s entire new album right now!
03:14 pm


Joey Ramone
ya know

Rolling Stone magazine’s website is streaming the new Joey Ramone album, ya know?. It’s his second solo release and consists of tunes that he wrote during the last 15 years of his life. On first listen, it sounds good to me - a little slick and tamer than The Ramones, but still a worthy addition to the long glorious history of one of punk’s pioneers.

Check out ya know? here. The album hits the streets on May 22nd.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Wonderful punk and post-punk era photographs by David Arnoff

Stiv Bators, 1980
David Arnoff‘s post-punk era photography appeared in the NME, Melody Maker, Trouser Press, N.Y. Rocker and many other publications. The Cleveland-born, but London-based photographer and disc jockey’s work captures iconic bad boys and girls, relaxed and at their most playful. Arnoff is currently readying his photographs for a book and is looking for a publisher. I asked him a few questions over email:

Tara: Tell me about the Stiv Bators shot.

David Arnoff: I was hanging around with Stiv and his post-Dead Boys band in their hotel—pretty sure it was the Sunset Marquis—and we decided to do some shots of him on his own. He’d been messing about with a new air pistol, so we brought that along and just stepped out into the hall, after which it occured to him to maybe go back in the room and put some shoes on, but I said not to bother.  We started out doing some rather silly and predictable 007-type poses before he chose to just sit on the floor and look disturbed. I always thought the stripey socks made him look even more so.

Nick Cave, 1983
Tara: You worked with Nick Cave several times. He seems like a guy very concerned about his image, yet playful, too. What’s he like as a subject or collaborator?

David Arnoff: Nick is very easy and unaffected to work with. That shot with Harpo is the result of what started out as another cancelled session at the Tropicana Motel. He apologized for being up all night and indicated all the empty bottles on the TV as evidence, but was perfectly happy for me to carry on regardless even though he was not looking his best. The only downside was he was trying in vain to play “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” not really knowing the chords and the guitar was painfully out of tune.  Not an enjoyable aural experience. He was quite happy with the photos though.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, 1983
Tara: Maybe it was the era, but several of the people you shot were junkies. Any “colorful” anecdotes about the likes of Cave, Jeffery Lee Pierce, Nico or Johnny Thunders?

David Arnoff: Far be it for me to say whether or not any of these people were actually junkies, but it’s funny you should mention Nick and Jeffrey together because I did squeeze all three of us into my little Volvo p1800 to go score on the street—Normandy, I think, around 3rd or somewhere. We then went back to my place in Hollywood, where Jeffrey became convinced they’d been ripped off. But Nick seemed more than happy with his purchase. Afterwards we went to that lesbian-run Mexican place near the Starwood. Nick tried to remember what he’d had previously and proceeded to attempt to describe what he wanted it to the baffled staff. I think they just gave up and sold him a burrito.

More with David Arnoff and his photographs after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Joey Ramone & Pearl Jam performing ‘Sonic Reducer’
03:50 am


Joey Ramone
Pearl Jam
Sonic Reducer

I just wanted to put Joey Ramone, Pearl Jam and “Sonic Reducer” in one sentence. But, this is actually pretty fucking good. Joey Ramone towers over Eddie Vedder (in more ways than one) as they tear into Rocket From The Tombs’, by way of The Dead Boys, “Sonic Reducer.”

Vedder seems like a nice enough guy, but whenever he sings in this clip the energy level diminishes. I give Eddie credit for having good taste in his rock and roll heroes.

September 1995 in New Orleans.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Joey Ramone died 10 years ago today and there’s still a hole in rock and roll’s soul
06:03 am


Joey Ramone

Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of one of the genuinely great front men in rock and roll, Joey Ramone. If you’re a Ramones fan like I am, I know how much you miss him.

This video is just plain beautiful. Joey and his mom. We’re a happy family, indeed.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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