Thursday, February 23, 2012
I JUST DON'T GET IT......
There are certain songs that seemingly every rock critic deem to be above criticism. This, dating back to 1976, is one of them:-
mp3 : Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks
Written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell and openly about heroin addiction, it was first recorded by Hell's former band, The Heartbreakers, (released in 1977) and later by Dee Dee's band The Ramones (released in 1980).
This of course contradicts what many people think...myself included up until I read something in a magazine a few years back...that the song was composed by Johnny Thunders.
Wiki gives an explanation....
Hell and Dee Dee were in agreement that the song was mainly written by Dee Dee. "The reason I wrote that song was out of spite for Richard Hell, because he told me he was going to write a song better than Lou Reed's "Heroin", so I went home and wrote 'Chinese Rocks'," Dee Dee is quoted in Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. "I wrote it by myself, in Debbie Harry's apartment on First Avenue and First Street."
According to Dee Dee, the song was "about Jerry Nolan, of The Heartbreakers calling me up to come over and go cop" heroin, a form of which was known in those days as Chinese Rocks. "The line 'My girlfriend's crying in the shower stall' was about Connie, and the shower was at Arturo Vega's loft," where Dee Dee, his girlfriend Connie and Joey Ramone all lived at one point.
Dee Dee wanted to record the song with the Ramones, but bandmate Johnny Ramone vetoed it, claiming that the song was too obviously drug-related. Dee Dee then took it to Richard Hell, also with The Heartbreakers at the time. "Dee Dee called me one day and said, 'I wrote a song that the Ramones won't do,'" Hell recalled. "He said, 'It's not finished. How about I come over and show it to you and we can finish it if you like it?'"
According to Hell, "What happened is really clear, and the songwriting credits can all be checked at BMI. The song is by me and Dee Dee, but Dee Dee did 75 percent of it. I mean, all I did was write two verses out of three. Dee Dee wrote the music, the concept was his. He's basically responsible for it. But he brought me the song; he didn't even know Johnny and Jerry, but we were friends and he thought the band was great. And when the Ramones didn't want to do the song he said, 'Look, I've written one verse of this song with the chorus and it's about heroin, how about you write the rest of it and it's yours?'" And that's what he did." Dee Dee similarly recalled, "Richard Hell put that line in, so I gave him some credit."
Richard Hell then goes on to explain that the song became one of the Heartbreakers' most popular songs, even after he left the band. They ended up recording it for their 1977 debut album L.A.M.F., and some band members added their names to the credits even though nothing had changed about the song
All vinyl pressings of L.A.M.F. including the 1984 L.A.M.F. Revisted album continued to credit the song to Thunders, Heartbreakers' drummer Jerry Nolan as well as Ramone and Hell. It was only after the deaths of Thunders and Nolan that the credit was changed. However, both the 1994 and 2002 CD reissues of L.A.M.F. now name the three Ramones as the writers Joey, Johnny Ramone and Dee Dee -- but not Hell.
"The credits are false," Dee Dee wrote in 1997. "Johnny Thunders ranked on me for fourteen years, trying to make out like he wrote the song. What a low-life maneuver...."
If you look online and official databases for both ASCAP and BMI, the credits on Chinese Rocks are to just Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell.
It's a fascinating story...one that is, in my humble opinion, better than the song itself. Just doesn't anything for me. More pub-rock than anything else. But hey....what do I know? My copy of the song comes from a compilation CD given away with a music magazine.