Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 50: Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the Ramones

The Ramones were the greatest rock 'n roll band to have ever existed. Their legacy is incredibly far-reaching, and yet, at the same time, so under-appreciated, understated, and misunderstood. While they never had a hit record and never got much radio play during their 22 year career, their influence can be felt in modern music, spanning multiple genres, like no other band yet, and will continue to present itself indefinitely. They invented punk rock, even if it was mostly unintentional and even though that fact has been disputed and they have never really received the credit and respect that they so rightfully deserve for such a feat. From Johnny's unique and inimitable style of guitar playing to Joey's infectious and unmistakable crooning, the Ramones find themselves secure at the top of a list of bands that are a force to be reckoned with. Their blistering live sets alone cannot be topped, although many have and will continue to try. Everett True's biography of the band, Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the Ramones, is a revealing and intimate tale of an extremely hard-working, passionate, relentless, and even highly dysfunctional band of "brothers." Hell-bent on achieving the success, notoriety, and respect they were certain that they deserved but were continually denied, they were driven to proceed, determined that it would finally be awarded, despite the fact that they should have broken up dozens of times along the way (or at least they would have had they not been so stubborn and dedicated to their cause). Even as a long time Ramones fan, I realized, upon reading this book, how little I really knew about the band including the personalities and backgrounds of the various members, their unquestionable influence, their motivations and visions for the group and their music, and all the struggles, battles, and heartaches they faced along the way. This book is incredibly revealing and is written in a very approachable way, allowing the reader to become deeply involved in the lives of the Ramones family. Everett True is oftentimes very subjective and opinionated as a writer, but I appreciated and enjoyed his commentary, especially considering how close he had been with the band throughout the years. True has compiled an incredible resource for immersing oneself in the Ramones world, offering countless interviews and first hand reports and deriving information from an impressive amount of reputable sources. There is so much content in this book that one read is not going to be enough, especially for fans like me, so I'm certain that I will be referring to it for a long time to come. If you have any interest in the Ramones at all, this is an ideal starting place, and even if you're not a fan of the band or their music, their story is extremely fascinating and will provide great entertainment for anyone interested in the human experience.    

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