By Sara Bir
Johnny Ramone’s posthumous autobigraphy Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone fired up the second wind of Ramones fandom I’ve been yearning for. The book came out in April, but in a frugal move that I think Johnny would have approved of, I put a copy on hold at the library and waited it out.
Have you ever loved a band so much that you reached a bodily saturation point, whereupon listening to their songs felt unnecessary? There was so much Ramones flowing through my bloodstream I couldn’t absorb any more. I didn’t put my Ramones albums away, though for quite a few years I seldom played them. But simply thinking of myself as a Ramones fan (albeit one in hibernation) brought me soothing relief during low periods. If nothing else, I believed in all things Ramonesey, something that goes beyond a shelf of records and a gazillion performances and four guys (seven, actually) wearing leather jackets. I knew my auditory need for the Ramones would return someday, along with a renewed sense of pleasure, and it was Johnny’s book that did it.
Johnny is not my favorite Ramone. In a band of guys who are hard to love, Johnny is the hardest to love. He was the every-scowling tyrant, practical to the point of being unfeeling. The man we see in Johnny’s interview segments of End of the Century: Story of the Ramones appears to carry little sentimentality for his Ramones years, nor compassion for the difficulties of his former bandmates. I was anxious to read Commando, for fear it would only reinforce this image.