Punk rock was all about destroying the idols of the past. As The Clash most succinctly put it in ‘London Calling’: “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust”. But even as these iconoclastic figures liked to posture about their hatred of 1960s flower power, most of them were still taking cues from the previous generation.
No punk figure was more open to the sounds of the past than Joey Ramone. An ardent devotee of Motown, sunshine pop, and the girl groups of the ’60s like The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las, Joey continuously tried to push The Ramones further into the world of pop-punk while having to contend with the rapid-fire ballistics of Johnny’s songs and the sardonic, drug-fueled urban hell of Dee Dee’s writing.
Eventually, Joey got his way, even convincing the rest of the group to hire legendary psychopath Phil Spector to add his signature “wall of sound” to the Ramones own signature punk aesthetic. Your mileage may vary on the results, but 1980’s End of the Century remains a fascinating listen to hear two seemingly completely different worlds colliding in such a warm embrace.
But to anyone who had listened to the Ramones before, the connection with great pop music shouldn’t have come as any surprise. Sure, there were the major hooks of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, but also the sunny optimistic tone of ‘Rockaway Beach’, the classic innocence of ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’, and the throwback charms of ‘Oh Oh I Love Her So’. The band even had obvious connections with the ’60s through their choices of cover songs, including the sock hop Chris Montez hit ‘Let’s Dance’, the R&B rave up Bobby Freeman cover ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’, the surf rock take on The Rivieras’ ‘California Sun’, and the garage rock shakedown of The Trashmen’s ‘Surfin’ Bird’.
One of their more goofy references to the past comes in ‘You’re Gonna Kill That Girl’, the fatalistic penultimate track to the band’s sophomore LP Leave Home. According to writer Bill Wyman – not to be confused with The Rolling Stones’ former bass player – ‘You’re Going to Kill That Girl’ is a loose parody of The Beatles’ ‘You’re Going to Lose That Girl’ from Help!
The two tracks don’t really share any musical or melodic DNA, but the connection between the titles is enough to link them together. Joey was an unapologetic Beatles fan and tried to push the band’s jangle pop into The Ramones at any opportunity he could. Really, the song sounds more like a parody of ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ by ’60s teen idol Bobby Vee to my ears, including the same mellow intro that ramps up into a more frantic verse, but maybe that’s just the music nerd in me looking too far into it.
Check out all three songs down below and decided for yourself which songs are referencing each other.