Single Stories: Ramones, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”

Thursday, October 26, 2017
Single Stories: Ramones, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”

Unlike a lot of our selections for the Single Stories feature, this isn’t one that’s actually celebrating an anniversary today, but with the 40th anniversary of ROCKET TO RUSSIA – yes, that’s the album from whence it comes – only about a week away, it’s been running through our mind rather a lot, so we thought this was as good a time to talk it up as any.

Written by Joey Ramone and produced jointly by Tommy Ramone and Tommy Bongiovi, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” remains one of the Ramones’ most well-known and popular songs, a situation no doubt caused by the fact that it’s by far one of their catchiest. One of Joey’s most unabashed tributes to bubblegum pop, “Sheena” – which imagined what might happen is Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was reintroduced to civilization – actually made its debut as a single in the UK, where it was issued in May 1977, two months before it made its way to release here in the States. When it finally did secure an American release, it provided the band with some minor chart success, climbing to #81 on the Billboard Hot 100.

By making it into the charts, “Sheena” managed to cement the public’s awareness of punk rock as a subculture, which was more than a little bit ironic when one considers just how much of a pop song it was. Its impact was felt far more deeply than its chart placement would suggest: it was selected as the #5 song on New Musical Express’s Tracks of the Year list, it can be found on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and it’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

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