Monday, April 27, 2020

Certain Songs #1805: Ramones – “Chinese Rock” | Medialoper

Album: End of the Century
Year: 1980

So yeah, while I wrote about the Heartbreakers version of “Chinese Rocks” about a thousand songs ago, I love the Ramones version enough to also write about it.

Given that L.A.M.F. wasn’t released in the U.S. at the time — well, shit, I did some digging on Discogs, and I can’t find a U.S. release at all for L.A.M.F, and that can’t be right — the version on End of The Century was the first one I heard. And it was one of the harder rockers on that record, Phil Spector staying relatively light-handed so that Joey could sing the incredibly dark lyrics.

The plaster’s falling off the wall
My girlfriend’s crying in the shower stall
It’s hot as a bitch, I should’ve been rich
But I’m just digging a Chinese ditch

Said lyrics, Dee Dee’s answer to Lou Reed’s “Heroin,” were written at Debbie Harry’s apartment back in ’77 — as was the fashion at the time — (though I’ve also read it was Chris Stein’s apartment, which is far less glamorous) and given to the Heartbreakers, cos Johnny didn’t want to do a song about hard drugs. Three years later, things had changed, as the songs were drying up, and their version just worth it for the speedy tempo, as played by Marky, who of course had played with Richard Hell in a previous life, the guitar leads — probably played by Ed Stasium — and the way that Joey sings “dee-itch.”

And in any incarnation, the chorus remains a pretty good object lesson of the tendency for smack to ruin lives.

I’m living on a Chinese rock
All my best things are in hock
I’m living on a Chinese rock
Everything is in the pawn shop

Why is this song different from all other Ramones songs?
I mean, given that “Chinese Rock” is the only song ever co-written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell — even if Hell only contributed a couple of lines — that makes it pretty much unique in just about every way.

“Chinese Rock”

“Chinese Rock” live at the US Festival(!), 1982

Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim

The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page


No comments: