Joey Ramone: …Ya Know?

I’m sure a lot of you are puzzled by this. You’re probably asking yourself ‘I thought he died’ and you’d be correct. This is a posthumously released album from the famed singer of the Ramones. This album is composed of home demos and other unreleased songs that were remixed and remastered for this record. I think it’s great that we still have new music to enjoy from this man. Joey Ramone (or his real name Jeffry Ross Hyman) was a hugely influential and prominent figure in music history, representing New York’s 70’s punk rock movement and inspiring a whole generation of outcasts. After the decline of the Ramones empire, Joey had a short-lived solo career. he died from lymphoma in 2001 at the age of 49. His first solo record, Don’t Worry About Me, was released posthumously in 2002 and contained a cover of the Louis Armstrong standard, “What a Wonderful World” (which is absolutely brilliant if you haven’t heard it).

Now ten years later, we have ANOTHER great solo record. I have a feeling that this will be the last collection of lost songs by Joey Ramone, but that’s okay because Don’t Worry about Me and …Ya Know? are fantastic records. This new record is very reminiscent of the Too Tough to Die era of the Ramone’s career as well as the Phil Spector influences from the first solo record, but there are also some hidden treasures on this record. For example, there are two songs on here that were from the Ramone’s that Joey rerecorded and spun in his own direction. “Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight)” is a lot slower and more of a ballad, which I think works better and compliments the song more. “Life’s a Gas” is all acoustic this time and i think this contrast works really well as well. The fact that this song closes the record and is acoustic is slightly haunting as well. It ends with the lyrics ‘so don’t be sad/cuz I’ll be there/don’t be sad at all’ and then you hear the sound of distant garden wind chimes to close out the album. It really makes you appreciate what he did as a singer and as a musician and what he contributed to the history of punk and music history in general.

I thought the record was great. I realize now that I’m at an age where all of the old musicians that I grew up listening to are starting to die out now and a record like this is a nice reminder of what these men gave the world of music. I know Joey has been dead for over a decade now, but listening to this felt like he just died yesterday. I’m a huge Ramones fan and I’m just excited that there’s more for me to enjoy. I’m sure if you’re in the same boat as me, you’ll enjoy it too. You can’t treat it like a Ramones record, you just have to take it for what it is.

And what it is brilliant.

Luke Helker

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