Illustration: John Pound
From the Dangerous Minds archives.
Hearing The Ramones’ debut album for the first time ranks right up their with getting my cherry popped, my first acid trip and watching my daughter’s birth. There are certain touchstones in one’s life that mark the point at which something switches on in your body chemistry that alters you forever. For me, these changes are generally induced by sex, drugs and/or rock and roll.
In the mid-70s I was living in the heart of John Denver country. The rock and roll scene in the Boulder/Denver area was dire. Hippie shit still ruled the airwaves and Deadheads in tye-dyed t-shirts and Jesus spats shuffled through the streets and parks on a perpetual Rocky Mountain high. I read Bukowski, listened to Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation and leered through my window at the freaks contentedly loping along like those dumb multi-colored bears you see on Grateful Dead beer cozies. What were they so fucking happy about? Rock and roll was dead and I wasn’t feeling so good myself. Something had to change.
The change came with the arrival of The Ramones. The boys from Queens returned rock to its roots: short catchy tunes played fast with maximum energy. In 35 minutes they distilled the music I loved to its essence. I pulled out my dust-covered Telecaster with its rusting strings and started writing songs again. I was inspired and reminded that two or three chords is all it took to change the world or to at least make it a bit more inhabitable.
Close to four decades later and the band that many considered a joke when they came on the scene are finally recognized as rock and roll legends. Their music has only gotten better with age. The first three Ramones’ albums are indisputable classics and those of us who defended them and supported them have gotten the last laugh.
In 1976 had you told me that in 2011 The Ramones would be heroes to kids all across America, I would have loved the notion but thought it improbable. But that’s exactly where things are at. The Ramones rule America’s suburbs now more than ever. And it’s a beautiful thing.
One evening while doing Youtube research on The Ramones I came across several videos of kid bands covering “Blitzkrieg Bop.” As I continued to scroll through Youtube, the several became dozens and it was then I realized that the kid band/‘Blitzkrieg Bop” thing was a bona-fide phenomenon. In the time it takes to listen to a Ramones’ album, I discovered more than a hundred videos of teenybopper combos covering “Blitzkrieg.” The song is an anthem for children who are no bigger than the instruments they’re playing. And some of these pre-teen punks are as good as many of the bands I saw at CBGB on audition night.
I gathered some of the videos together for your listening pleasure. The only stipulations I made regarding which bands qualified for this little overview of Blitzkrieg mania are the groups had to appear to be under 16 years of age and had to actually be playing instruments. There are a couple of videos where the bands are augmented by a backing track or, in one case, an adult (Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks). I made an exception for those because the kids performing are so damned good or so damned charming.
So here they are: the future Ramones of America. And some of the brothers are sisters! “Hey, ho, let’s go!”
It’s been over two years since I originally posted this piece on Dangerous Minds. Since then, there have been dozens (perhaps hundreds) of more videos of kids playing “Blitzkrieg Bop” uploaded to YouTube. It’s unstoppable!
More teeny Blitzkrieg boppers after the jump…