There are very few bands that I can remember precisely when I first heard them. I can’t even remember when I first heard the Beatles. But I definitely CAN remember when I first heard the Ramones. I was 15. It was 1976. I’d been talking to a friend of mine, an older friend whose musical taste I really respected, for a couple weeks about…where was MY music. I loved the Beatles, and the Who, and Bowie, etc., but they all seemed like not of my era. My era was Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles and what-not. I liked Springsteen. That was maybe closest to what I was trying to describe. But generally the music of the day did not speak to me at all. It was fine, but the music I really felt went back a few years. I remember vividly saying that to him as we were driving in his car. And he said, well what about the Moody Blues? Which still makes me laugh out loud. THE MOODY BLUES? Give me a f**cking break. That was somehow going to be my music, the music of my time, that spoke to me? DOUBTFUL. A couple weeks later, we were at his house listening to records, like we did every week when the new releases came out. There was another older friend there whose taste in music I also really respected. And I brought up again this subject of current music, and music that really felt like mine (and lack thereof). And he mentioned Roxy Music. His favorite band. Again, great band. I liked them then I like them now. But still. I liked them. They didn’t wreck me like the best of the Beatles did, like the Who did, like the Kinks did. And then the one friend said, ‘have you heard the Ramones?’ (It had just come out). And the OTHER friend went on a rant about how it was the WORST music he’d ever heard. Barely qualified as music! Just absolute sh*t. Friend one puts it on the turntable. Blitzkrieg Bop came on, and literally my life changed. There was before that moment, and then there was AFTER that moment. I was fucking stunned. This was IT! This was the music, the energy, the attitude, the SOUND my 15 year old self had been craving without ever having heard. The feeling I’d been trying to describe, I had just heard coming through the speakers, louder than hell. Song ends, and friend #2 says, well, I was right, right? Total crap. I was so knocked out all I could muster was a ‘I kinda liked it’. I bought the album and for the next several years was a Ramones evangelist. It’s hard for folks who didn’t experience that at the time it happened, when you first heard the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, how completely revolutionary it sounded and felt. Even just a couple years later “New Wave” was around, Blondie was selling records, Talking Heads and Television, it was still a musical revolution, but that singular moment was now passed. It was, I imagine, similar to turning on the TV on a Sunday night in 1964 to watch Ed Sullivan and seeing the Beatles, having never heard them before, and thinking WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE I’M BUYING A GUITAR AND ALSO F*CK HAIRCUTS. Later that same week, I put a down payment on a black leather motorcycle jacket, just like the Ramones were wearing on the cover of their first album. I was a busboy at a country club and every week I’d get my paycheck and go pay 20 dollars on the jacket. And they wore Converse All-Stars…already had those. The song after Blitzkrieg Bop was Beat on the Brat. Uh…what? That song, like the best Ramones songs, sounds EXACTLY like a machine. It IS a machine. Drums, guitar and bass all completely locked down and locked into the beat. There is no space available in that sound. You cannot strip it down. You can’t add to it, you cannot subtract from it. It is like one of the elements. It is factory-made sheet metal by a band that was so poor and weird that they didn’t have guitar cases – if it was raining, Dee Dee would put his bass in a grocery bag when they rode the train in from Queens to play downtown. Two songs after Beat on the Brat comes I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. PERFECT POP! That’s what I kept telling people. IT’S POP MUSIC! Now that point is completely obvious, why would you think otherwise? Then, people thought that was bananas. It’s not pop, it’s WEIRD. I saw immediately, in a flash that stunned me and has lived ever since in me – in that singular moment when I first heard that album – the connection between the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Ramones. It was so obvious to me. The kids are losing their minds. The Blitzkrieg Bop.