On My Sixth Birthday, the Ramones Changed Everything

by Bill Brenner on August 27, 2013

I’m tickled to discover that my birthday is a special day to The Ramones, too. Turns out, yesterday was also the 37th anniversary of the band’s debut album. They were always an important band for me, especially after I learned that Joey Ramone was a fellow OCD sufferer.

Mood music:

I owned multiple Ramones albums on vinyl, and wore them out from playing them so much. A favorite was Halfway to Sanity. Back then I knew nothing about my own OCD, let alone Joey Ramone’s. I just loved that the songs were loud and simple and that the band members were ugly like me. But looking back, they were the ideal personification of OCD. Their songs revolved around simple chord progressions with a lot of repetition. Repetition fits the OCD mind like a glove.

I skipped my senior prom and attempted to get into a Ramones show at The Channel in Boston. I didn’t have a date anyhow and getting kicked in the stomach by punk rock was more appealing than dancing to Bon Jovi.

Also noteworthy: There was a time before Erin and I started dating that she was driving behind me on the way home from Salem State one day, and I noted she was bopping her head up and down and back and forth. It turns out she was listening to The Ramones. I believe it was “All the Hits and More” she had in the tape deck. The strawberry-blond hair flailing around was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

When I was researching famous people who shared my mental disorder and I saw Joey on the list, his status as one of my all-time heroes was cemented. That someone with OCD could stand in front of a raging crowd of punk rockers every night floored me. By the time he died in 2001, he had amassed a body of work that will inspire people forever.

When someone thinks they’re doomed to a less-than-wonderful life because they have a mental illness or physical defect, just look at what Joey Ramone did. Then try to tell me you can’t soar above the things that seem like limitations.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to the first Ramones album — repeatedly, obsessively and unapologetically.

The Ramones

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