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Melissa Webster Headshot

'Punk You Let Me Down' -- Would Joey Ramone Really Tell Them to Shut Up?

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"Punk You Let Me Down" by Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, from the Sing-A-Long book Meal Deal With the Devil. Published with permission.

I'm told Joey Ramone of The Ramones, the punk rock icon who graced us with songs like "Beat On the Brat" [with a baseball bat], was actually a very tolerant, gentle, progressive soul. With this in mind and in contrast to the tone and lyrics of his music, speculation about how he'd react to today's modern punk scene, and especially to the punk wannabes who wear Hot Topic like a badge of honor, is a mixed bag of evolution and mutations I believe he'd embrace, ridiculousness he'd flat-out reject, and stagnation and stubbornness he'd be resigned to accept, if only for the nostalgia.

Hands-down, "Punk You Let Me Down" by Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits is the funniest 'f**k you' song I've ever heard, if for no other reason than because of the blatant truth and honesty in the lyrics so many current and former "punks" don't have the guts to express themselves, and the smack-down of its delivery in the context of a rap song. The icing on the cake lies within the catchy beat that throws this song right into the heart of mainstream top 40 music, a position reviled with such contempt by punk scene purists that the insult of it would be considered beyond redemption. Put all of this together and you've got a band who created a song that hit its target with the precision of a sniper in a shooting gallery.

This ability to hold a mirror up to society, even when society is their own backyard, through satire and cringe-worthy honesty is the genius and greatest strength of Bobby Joe Ebola. It is also their biggest so-called weakness and the ultimate inspiration behind this song; because their music didn't fit into the mold some punks felt it should; because it was different and therefore rejected by this same group of punks; because even in this microworld of purity and idealism that prides itself on nonconformity therein lies a certain expectation of conformity. For all of these reasons, Corbett Redford and Dan Abbott, frontmen for Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, wrote a song to tell these punks exactly where they could stick their time-warped vision of themselves, with hilarious results.

If this were another genre, like country music or even hip-hop, the rejection Bobby Joe Ebola experienced would be almost understandable, considering the rigid expectations of the consumers who buy the music, but punk rock is supposed to be different. The entire premise and the history they glorify was founded on dissent, stepping away from the norm and pushing boundaries, something some members of the calcified old regime stubbornly refuse to acknowledge, forcing Bobby Joe Ebola to slap them with a very harsh reminder.

So the question remains, would "The Ramones... tell your ass to shut up" as you wallow in the glory days of the '80s while snobbishly judging those who have evolved from it? Would Joey Ramone be appalled at today's punk scene or would he embrace it all with nary a negative word? How would he compare the punk of his heyday to the punk scene we have now? I don't know, but I hope like hell, at the very least, as Corbett Redford put it "... he might cringe at some of the emo/screamo Warped Tour/Epitaph hair bands that are making the rounds."