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Why The Ramones songs were short


Why The Ramones songs were short

Whenever you hear Dee Dee Ramone scream “1, 2, 3, 4,” and the music starts, you know you’re listening to The Ramones and that the track will certainly be short. The total length of their albums rarely surpassed the 35-minute mark, much less than other Rock groups, which would typically extend to 50 minutes or even more. So, why were The Ramones’ songs so short, and why did they rarely composed longer tracks?


That actually didn’t start with them but since they were the band which really got the Punk movement going and set all the rules for the music genre, it became common to Punk bands writing short tracks.

The reason why The Ramones songs were short

Well, the answer is really simple actually, as told by the late guitarist Johnny Ramone in his autobiography “Commando“, The Ramones songs were shorter because they played really fast. They were written and structured like a regular track but the speed they were played really ended up making them short.

“I’ve always thought you’re better off playing shorter. Ramones songs were basically structured the same as regular songs, but played fast. So they became short. When I saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium, they played a half-hour show. I figured that if the Beatles played a half-hour at Shea Stadium, the Ramones should only do about fifteen minutes. You get in your best material, and leave them wanting more. I don’t think anyone should play for more than an hour,” Johnny Ramone said.

That speed came from Johnny himself according to the band’s original drummer and co-producer Tommy Ramone. He told John Piccarella in 2005 that the speed adopted by the band came from Johnny’s virtuosity to play fast. But he also revealed that they also wanted to bring back the original feel of Rock music from the 50s and 60s, which had many short songs made for radio.

“The speed is pure Johnny. Johnny was a fastball pitcher. He associated everything with sports. And the speed was his virtuosity. He could play very fast on a guitar. So the actual speed of the songs came from Johnny.”

He continued:

“The brevity of songs – we were looking for short songs. We wanted to bring back the original feel of rock ‘n’ roll, which by the ’70s had disappeared. You know, the ten minutes songs and everything. We wanted to bring back that “whomp bop-a-lu-la”. And of course short songs played fast become very short,” Tommy Ramone said.

In the late 60s and early 70s, the landscape of Rock and Roll underwent a notable transformation. It was characterized by an evolution towards longer and more intricate compositions. Progressive Rock groups, exemplified by their extensive musical pieces exceeding 20 minutes, emerged during this period. Comprising highly skilled musicians, these bands often created music that seemed to be aimed at impressing their fellow peers rather than catering to the broader audience.

This trend eventually contributed to the birth of the Punk movement. It inspired aspiring musicians, even those with limited instrumental proficiency. They wanted to revert that music to a more simplistic and raw musical approach. So that marked Rock’s departure from the complexity of Progressive Rock.

The Ramones used to say that nobody could play faster than them. They were quite right for a few years until they influenced a whole new generation of musicians who played even faster. Metallica for example was one of those bands and James Hetfield already picked Johnny Ramone as one of the guitar players who influenced him the most.

The Punk group was one of the most influential bands of all time but failed to reach the same commercial success of its peers. They sold only a few million copies of their entire discography.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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