Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I DON'T WANNA GO DOWN TO THE BASEMENT--Ramones 7
The RAMONES go to the well a second time in the horror movie realm to close out the first side of their debut. TOMMY, JOHNNY and DEEDEE, with deft precision, deceptively make the seven chord, four section arrangement appear more straightforward than it actually is. If the song's uniform, blocked out structure seems a bit conservative after NOW I WANNA SNIFF SOME GLUE's nonstop unexpected curveballs, there are still subtle details to beguile. The intro and verse sections start off utilizing the same four chords--altered slightly but significantly in phrasing--and the remaining two connecting sections are variants on three note progressions in A: strummed with the the same rhythm, but completed by two different pairs of followup chords. The effect, as A returns again and again over the course of the track, never repeating the same closure, is subtly hypnotic.
On top of this, JOEY delivers his most idiosyncratic vocal of the lp, which is saying something. Given merely the verses to work with (no other sections of the song have lyrics) he toys with meter and persona, momentarily adopting a faux English accent so ludicrous that the second syllable of 'basement' is swallowed up entirely, then absurdly tossing around effeminate NY putdowns such as 'daddy-o' and 'Romeo.' With brazen disregard for matching the guitars' melody and meter, he offers oddly timed--but plainly planned out- interjections of the nightmare scenario's basest emotionally minimal details.
I DON'T WANNA GO DOWN TO THE BASEMENT clocks in at 2 minutes and 35 seconds- BEAT ON THE BRAT aside, the record's longest track by a considerable margin. As a matter of context, consider LED ZEPPELIN's Presence, which was released the previous month. The only song on that record under 4 minutes is still longer than the RAMONES stretching out. On top of that, Presence closes with Tea for One--more than three times its length--and opens with Achilles' Last Stand, which runs FOUR times its length. All of this illustrates the climate that the RAMONES arrived in- where to even have songs of 'merely' single length was enough alone to appear radically 'outre.'
RAMONES I DON'T WANNA GO DOWN TO THE BASEMENT
Photo by Roberta Bayley