Stephen King is a pretty big Ramones fan. In the liner notes to We’re a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones, King wrote about how during the age of disco and expensive cocaine, the Ramones sang about getting high on a budget.
Their first two albums had the quintessential songs for that description: “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” and “Carbona Not Glue.” The incredibly punk imagery of being broke, paired with a snarling attitude, became a signature for the Ramones.
Their third album, Rocket to Russia, contains one of the most vivid images of gutter life: “We’re a Happy Family.” The album also features classic Ramones tunes like “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”
The Ramones wouldn’t have eaten fancy cheese. Even after their success, I couldn’t picture Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee or Tommy enjoying a nice havarti or smoked gouda. When the Ramones had cheese, it probably came from a can.
I bought a can of easy cheese to go with the Ramones record. It works well on crackers or pretzels, but to get the true sense of youth, I suggest eating it straight from the can.
Rocket was one of the group’s last to focus on teenage life. The whole album is an anthem to youths living in New York City, with mixed emotions about it. Songs like “Rockaway Beach” and their cover of “Surfin’ Bird” are bright and energetic, while others like “I Wanna Be Well” and “Teenage Lobotomy” are bleak and angry. The Ramones balance the emotions well. Rocket to Russia never sounds scattered and is never anything but punk.