Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Ramones - "I Wanna Be Sedated"

ARTIST: The Ramones
OVERPLAYED SONG: "I Wanna Be Sedated"
ORIGINAL SOURCE: Road To Ruin LP, Sire/Warner Bros., 1978
OTHER SOURCES: Ramonesmania compilation, Sire/Warner Bros., 1988; Loco Live (live CD), Sire/Warner Bros., 1993; Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology 2xCD compilation, Warner Archives/Rhino, 1999

Let's get one thing straight before we proceed with this next entry. We here at Stop Playing These Songs love the Ramones. We miss Joey, DeeDee and Johnny immensely, we practically honed our all-important rhythm chops on many of their classic songs, and unlike our initial "honoree" Lynyrd Skynyrd, they earned a well deserved inauguration into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The list of bands they influenced could probably circle the planet a couple of times.

With all that influence, why is it that 99% of cover bands today can't seem to cover anything out of the Ramones' extensive catalogue of music other than "I Wanna Be Sedated"?!?

Well, let's face it. "Sedated" is basically a three-chord tune using a variation on the I-IV-V sequence. Specifically, that's in E major for you musicians out there, even though it modulates to F-sharp major after the guitar break. Simple enough for most bar bands overanxious for filler material to pad their debut sets with - only they never get to play it right. I've heard bands get the rhythm wrong, the CHORD CHANGES WRONG (WTF?), put in too many drum fills, sleepwalk into a more standard I-IV-V vamp, and be offended immensely by guitarists who think playing Ramones songs is beneath their wannabe-Joe-Satriani chops to play not the basic single-note "lead" guitar break on the original recording, but a half-assed bit of hair-metal lead guitar masturbation. (It should be noted that on the live version immortalized on 1993's Loco Live album, Johnny Ramone doesn't even play the one-note guitar solo live, preferring to keep the the more beefy and important rhythm part going)

It should also be noted that when the Ramones' songs were feted in the tribute album We're A Happy Family (Radioactive/Columbia, 2002), "Sedated" was replicated by The Offspring in a choice that betrayed their taste in less obvious covers they had done for compilations and soundtracks in the past (like The Damned's "Smash it Up" on the Batman Forever soundtrack.)

With all due respect to the Ramones in general and to Joey Ramone (the primary composer of this classic tune), leave well enough alone. Anyone who can't play "I Wanna Be Sedated" properly should be sedated themselves -- preferably until their medical condition resembles Terri Schiavo's.

Anything else on the superior Ramones anthology Hey! Ho! Let's Go!.


At 3:52 PM, Blogger CJ said...

I guess I am lucky that in the midwest The Ramones aren't covered as much by bar bands as say groups on the east coast. You can however apply the same arguments to any AC/DC song which every bar band around here covers as if their lives depend on them hitting the right combination of those 2 chords.


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