The Ramones weren’t afraid of taking on a cover or two, in fact, they may well have been the best in the business at making others songs sound like their own. It’s something that the group carried on doing until the very end. The pioneering punks, even put a cover of Tom Waits’ ‘I Don’t Want To Grow Up’ on their final album.
The record was 1995 effort ¡Adiós Amigos! and saw the thrashing foursome take on Waits’ 1992 hit ‘I Don’t Want To Grow Up’ as part of their farewell to the music industry. The Ramones take the track on a scenic route to the underbelly of New York and give it the punk treatment, a colour that thanks to Waits’ unique personality the song holds remarkable well.
Tom Waits’ original track featured on his seminal album Bone Machine and sees the singer at his most indecipherable as he’s swelled by tinny drums and mysterious laughter. It’s a heady mix and a quick reminder of why the mercurial whisky-soaked crooner is such a delight.
The concoction makes the track as one of his most joyous moments on record. While the song is a deliberate arrow aimed at the societal target, it is the chorus that adds an extra bit of firepower into this rabble-rouser and turns it into a bonafide powder keg.
The song has always stood out among Tom Waits’ catalogue for that very petulance and distrust. A seemingly uncouth demand, the song’s chorus belies the usual wisdom that Waits affords his music, ditching the debate and instead, taking vigilante justice. It’s a song that was perhaps in the wrong hands for a few years because as soon as the Ramones added their own flavour of snotty brattishness, the track suddenly feels wholly complete.
One thing that you can guarantee when entrusting the Ramones with your song, they won’t do it by halves. The band brings one thing in spades on this cover and that’s rhythm. Powering through the track, the difference between the two songs is noticeable instantly and the powerpop style of the Ramones fits the effervescent energy of the track to a tee.
While this may have been the Ramones’ 20th year as a band and were certainly on their way to rock and roll retirement, they curiously bring a youthful verve to the song. With guitar solos and Joey Ramones’ warbling vocal it’s a fun and fresh rendition of the anti-establishment song.