Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Joey Ramone - Don't Worry About Me

The news of Joey's passing was so sad that it was difficult to listen to this album, mostly cut during his illness, and with lyrics referencing his upcoming demise. Here he collaborated with long-time friend, producer and guitarist Daniel Rey (who appeared, uncredited, on many Ramones records) along with Andy Shernoff and with drum duties split between Marky Ramone and Frank Funaro. While not the Ramones, which, of course, was not the intent, this is some rockin' and quite touching music.

It's hard to stifle a tear when listening to Joey's take on Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", done Ramones-styled. It's obvious that he wishes that he could continue to enjoy all that this crazy planet has to offer. His voice is remarkably strong here, as well. A song to himself, "Stop Thinking About It", is more poppy Ramones, while "Mr. Punchy" is silly pop, with goofy call-and-answer vocals. Many of the tunes sound like they could have come off of some of the later albums from his band, but with more personal lyrics - "Maria Bartiromo", "Spirit In My House", "Venting (It's a Different World Today)", "Like a Drug I Never Did Before", "Searching For Something" (probably the poppiest number on the record), and the hopeful "I Got Knocked Down (But I'll Get Up)", with some of the saddest lyrics he ever wrote - "I want my life/it really sucks". He returns to his roots for a pretty straight reading (not that that's a bad thing!) of the Stooges' "1969" before closing with his message to his fans (cloaked in the guise of a love song), "Don't Worry About Me".

Some really strong songs here, with emotional and heart-wrenching lyrics. Everyone felt that the Ramones were "their" band and that the "bruddas" were "one of us" and it hurt when Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey were cut down far too young, but Joey seems to have touched us even more - maybe because he was the voice of the band, maybe because he was more social and outgoing and supportive of others. Long live Joey and long live the Ramones!