Wednesday, April 17, 2013
TODAY YOUR LOVE, TOMORROW THE WORLD--Ramones 14
With the final chords of I DON'T WANNA WALK AROUND WITH YOU still lingering, DEEDEE counts off the closing track of the blistering three song set which concludes their debut album. Opting for maximum impact, the boys select the last spotlight for one of their most diabolical creations-- another uneasy marriage of the outrageously unacceptable with the biographically resonant, of the profanely contrary with the strangely celebratory, & of the stunningly minimalist with the dizzyingly powerful.
The subject of a heated censorial debate between the band and SIRE Records head SEYMOUR STEIN, the WWII-themed TODAY YOUR LOVE, TOMORROW THE WORLD featured one of the most aggressively shocking instances of the band's brutal humour- once again scarcely assisted by any supporting detail in the 'setup' nor a clear 'punchline.' (See RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS.) Grudgingly convinced that the plain assertion of the protagonist's National Socialist leanings in the verses could not stand, the RAMONES conceded to liven up the gag by making the German soldier stuporous and altering the term of affection for the secondary character from 'baby' to the more unclear (but accurately translated) 'schatze.' The overall reduction in offensiveness is dubious, and that DEEDEE's Berlin upbringing made the choruses ring with a truthful familiarity made the improvement in palatability debatable.
The keen wordplay of the title is a distortion of 'Today Europe, Tomorrow the World,' a phrase widely but inaccurately attributed to a power hungry Adolph Hitler. Despite usage in U.S. propaganda, he seems to never have uttered it, and the closest appearance of the content of the motto seems to be a verse in a Hitler Youth song booklet- but it is far from exact. Interestingly enough, there is a 1944 Fredric March film named TOMORROW THE WORLD, which details the struggles of an American family to take in their care a German friend's son- who turns out to be a Hitler Youth. A possible late night viewing by DEEDEE of this oddity would go a long way in explaining the lyric's powerful, but vague imagery.
The group notches up their now familiar collective approach for the record's climax. JOHNNY and DEEDEE drive unfalteringly (though, as usual, divergently) throughout, Jewish JOEY asserts a unexpectedly impassioned reading of the objectionable words, and TOMMY takes a fearsome bashing to his cymbals for the chorus. All of this leads up to the majestic, surprise coda- this time counted off 'auf Deutsch' for contextual flavor. In a career that will be full of stunt song endings, this drum heavy, medium tempo refrain shall remain one of the most memorable. The cunning placement in the running order's final spot brings full circle this section's 1-4-5 (in A) with the identical progression which dominates the opening BLITZKRIEG BOP. As the doctored lines now obscure the role of the Nazi's 'baby' (and also the age of the 'little German boy') the 'your' of the title seems to take on a wider, more inclusive meaning-- perhaps an unconscious allusion to the audiences the RAMONES have faced onstage and would face in the career future ahead. And before the fadeout feedback oozes out a final farewell, their exhortations to be accepted on their own, twisted terms chime jubilantly.
RAMONES TODAY YOUR LOVE, TOMORROW THE WORLD
Photo by Roberta Bayley