Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Rockaway Beach by the Ramones

Rockaway Beach

Written and performed by the Ramones

You can listen to the recorded version here.  Click here for an MTV video (with an opening ad). Click here for a live version from 1977.  

The 10th Annual Joey Ramone Memorial Tribute (has it been that long?) takes place this week in New York and that has me thinking Gabba-Gabba-Hey. Better yet, “1-2-3-4” and we’re off:

Rock Rock Rockaway Beach
Rock Rock Rockaway Beach
Rock Rock Rockaway Beach
We can hitch a ride
To Rockaway Beach

Throw in some Beach Boys, a hint of Dick Dale’s guitar, add Phil Spector’s Wall-of-Sound, shake like crazy and out comes the Ramone’s Rockaway Beach: pure city exuberance. It’s not the lyrics; it’s the energy. We all know the “bus ride’s too slow.” Gotta go. Gotta go. Can’t picture these Forest Hills and Staten Island boys at the beach? Spider-limed Joey sunning his late night pale skin? They’d fit right in on Rockaway Beach; everyone does.

Coney Island’s more famous with its freaks, big rides and history. And those with the good cars headed out to the big beaches on Long Island. Rockaway Beach is Queen’s beach: everyone’s welcome and everyone comes. Same sand, same ocean, same escape as the famous beaches. No tropical paradise, Rockaway Beach is a city beach, full of grit and as many skells hanging out with the last of the wine in their bottle as there were bikini babes sunning themselves on the sand. Take the bus, ride the subway, hitch a ride, just get down there. It’s everyone’s beach and that’s why the Ramones sing about it.

So let’s go. “The sun is out and I want some.” Leave behind the “hot concrete,” head to Rockaway Beach. Joey and the boys could ride the Green Line bus the length of Woodhaven Boulevard, better yet, they’d finagle a car ride. Gawky, pasty-skinned, draped in leather, maybe they’d get off at Rockaway Playland, now long gone, but back then a few blocks of creaky rides. We’re talking the days before the revitalization, before condos and developers.  Look, there’s the Tilt-a-Whirl, there’s the old white wooden roller coaster. Maybe they’d go all the way to Beach 116th Street, buying beers and smokes at Mickey’s deli, nodding at the geeks hanging outside the arcade, chatting up the girls flocking on the boardwalk.

Summer’s coming, “Up on the roof, out on the street,” let’s head to Rockaway Beach.

*****

The Ramone’s were America’s punk band. Not an idea of a band, but a real band, born of their desperation not to be such losers. Play guitars, bang the drums, scream a bit, unleash a blitzkrieg of three-minute song frenzies.

Want more? You can check out the Ramones World website. Check out this video of a live performance of Blitzkrieg Bop.  Here’s “Teenage Lobotomy.” Here’s a 1974 video of “Judy is a Punk” from CBGB’s.

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