These Quotes from Dee Dee Ramone Taught Me A Lot
When I found Dee Dee Ramone, my self-worth was less than a cent, my mind shouted obscenities within, and I hated myself. Reading his book Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones allowed me to understand I wasn’t alone in how I felt. His story, although extreme and deranged at times, paralleled with mine. The feelings of rejection from society, from friends, and how he embraced unconformity, as a result, was like a dagger to my heart and what I needed most to take control of my life. With that, I give you the quotes that meant the most to me and why. All in the hopes it hits you, too.
“What I understand now is that I wasted a lot of effort worrying about nothing. Probably because I felt like nothing. My parents were horrible. Their lives were complete chaos and they blamed it all on me.”
Welcome to the first paragraph of Dee Dee Ramone‘s Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones. His book is a fantastic display of transition. To start you off, he immediately lets you know that he, “wasted a lot of effort worrying about nothing,” showing you how much he has reflected and learned from his life. Then, you see he has terrible self-worth due to his parents that he overcame. This self-observation hooked me like a fish, for, at the time, when I first read it, I was beginning to look at my past and how it reflected my self-worth.
“My father was constantly beating on me, yelling at me, and blaming me for everything. I started developing a really low-self esteem.”
Within the same chapter as the first quote, I found this gem. Parents are f**ked. Or they can be, at least. This is one tragedy in Dee Dee‘s life – his relationship with his father. It is clear that Dee Dee‘s self-esteem stems from this early relationship. If you, too, have low self-esteem, I would explore why. Most of us have low self-worth due to our environment and how the influencers within that environment make us feel. Took me a long time to realize how much the people around me who “cared” about me were actually resulting in my unhappiness. For the longest time, I was focused on making others happy and ignored my own. I played this role repeatedly, giving all my energy to anyone who said they “cared.” It was unhealthy. As soon as I saw my importance and that I needed to concentrate on myself, I started to experience happiness.
“I was developing all the traits of an unsatisfied person, which leads up to becoming an addict – a sense of unfulfillment, or chaos – a feeling that I needed more. I didn’t know what it was I needed more. I didn’t know what it was that I needed, but I needed an escape or strength. And I felt weak. I felt I was just floating on a cloud.“
I appreciate this view of addiction as it allowed me to understand my own with alcohol. Dee Dee will continue to struggle with addiction as the book progresses. Writing songs for the Ramones, trying to be what society needs him to be, and always coming short can be defeating. To combat this feeling, he turned to drugs and I sympathize. In case you don’t know, Dee Dee died due to an overdose years after this book was released. This quote should help you understand addiction from Dee Dee‘s eyes, and if you are struggling, find help before it’s too late.
“I had rock ‘n’ roll and it gave me a sense of my own identity.”
While becoming a misfit, Dee Dee had music. Identity can be freeing. When the world around us is a chaotic mess, having a forum like music can give us a sense of direction. I believe that is what I am doing with Punk Rock and this blog. I have found an ethos that I can get behind. The good days, and the bad, as long as I can concentrate on the stories of punk rock history and its music, I can continue to go down this crazy path of self-discovery I find myself in. It has allowed me to do unbelievable things, and I hope it never stops. By reading this blog post, I assume you also identify with punk rock, and for that, I have to say there are PLENTY of things to do. Write songs, write stories, play music, and listen to tunes.
“The key to survival seemed to be a college education, but I had already graduated to my role in life – that of social deviant.“
I could be wrong, but this Dee Dee‘s first mentions the idea of conformity in his book. Today’s society states if you want to get a good job or have a good life – you need a college education. You have to conform to the system. Dee Dee felt he couldn’t do that. While this might seem sad, I believe this is freeing for Dee Dee. It was for me, at least. Once you have a sense of rejection from today’s so-called “normal” people it frees you to be whoever you want to be. Including, if I can be so bold, yourself. And in my eyes, there is nothing more punk than being yourself.
“People who join a band like the Ramones don’t come from stable backgrounds, because it’s not that civilized an art form. Punk rock comes from angry kids who feel like being creative.”
This might be my favorite quote from Dee Dee‘s book Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones. That last line, “Punk rock comes from angry kids who feel like being creative.” For a long time, I thought anger was a bad thing. It’s one of the rawest emotions out there, and it means deep down – you care. If you are angry with society, it’s because you can see it be better. Angry with friends, it’s because you love them. I’ve been angry my entire life, and all I’ve wanted is a creative outlet where I can make things that are cool (like this blog). Punk rock is complex. It’s one of the best genres that go beyond just music. It’s attitude, it’s fashion, it’s all the above, and, most importantly, it stems from pissed-off individuals sharing their voice.
“I was trying to follow my working class dream and it just got interrupted. I wanted to be a hairstylist, get self-sufficient, have a roof over my head, get married, whatever.”
I wonder if this quote is a stab at Johnny Ramone. After reading his book, he mentions that being a Ramone was his job, and he treated it as such. With Dee Dee, there was a sense that he hated this aspect of being in the Ramones. The rules and uniform he had to abide by. Yet, there is still a bit of truth with the annoyance of becoming a working-class citizen, especially with the last word – “whatever.” I, too, wanted what the world told me was the “right” way to live. Get an education, get a job, and get married. I followed a checklist not created by me. And there is no wonder I landed an unhappy mess. As Dee Dee says, it’s – “whatever.”
“Even early on, my relationship with the rest of the Ramones was always stained because I think they couldn’t understand me.”
Much like Dee Dee, most of us will go through a period in our lives when the people who surround us don’t understand us. They say things like “love” without taking the time to understand you are suffering. Being surrounded by people who talk to you doesn’t mean you have company. If they don’t register your emotions, you are alone. Take a moment and look around you – do the people who make up your company illustrate the view you want of yourself? Or do they understand your struggles? If not, it might be time to reevaluate the situation.
“Now it makes me feel good, now I understand how much we influenced people, but at the time, I didn’t have any real self-esteem.”
The idea that Dee Dee Ramone is now seeing the work he did and what it did, in a global way, is a turning point in the book to me. I experienced something similar before. I was doing unbelievable things, working non-stop, and pushing myself to unbelievable heights as far as my job was concerned without any acknowledgment, from myself or anyone else, that I was doing anything at all. All of this had to do with the voice in my head. I was constantly lying to myself saying I was a weak, pathetic person (just like Dee Dee) who wouldn’t amount to anything. It drove me to do more while also killing myself. If you don’t feel good about yourself, nothing you do will be an accomplishment. It will just be another example of why you need to do more.
“And I didn’t know how to do that, I’m used to being a loner. I lived in total fear of having to explain myself and my situation.”
I received chills with this particular quote. I felt so alone working in a toxic environment where I always felt the need to explain myself or show that I was a good person. When you feel the need to constantly explain yourself, you begin to question yourself. Those tricky thoughts of “Is there something wrong with me?” begin to trickle in, and if you live in the darkness long enough – it will impact your mental health. Trust me.
“There is a way to get help, to get off drugs and straighten out, and nobody felt I was worth helping.”
All too often we fall prey to the trap that we need company. However, sometimes those who surround us aren’t our friends. I had to learn this lesson a lot in my life. My mentality was if I had people around me, it didn’t matter how they made me feel or what they said – at least I had love. But is that love? When the people who “care” about you are constantly shaping your image with fear and negative thoughts similar to how Dee Dee felt? When I finally appreciated being alone, without any outside views, the world opened up to me, and I began to realize that if I was to help myself – I had to do it by myself.
“I hate these people. I’m not growing. I’m not learning anything. This is an act.”
Dee Dee Ramone is on the brink of leaving the Ramones when this quote appears. My time in a toxic environment felt a lot like this. I was going through the emotions. My life wasn’t going anywhere, and it was hard for me to see an end goal that resulted in anything other than how I felt at the moment – miserable. I began putting on a face and trudging along the best I could until I exploded in anger resulting in the perception that I had a “problem” from my peers. If I mentioned my anger to my friends, they would tell me it was part of life, and I need to get past it, or I didn’t need to take things so personally. Once I realized their advice was due to the fact that they felt the same way as I did, and that is how they dealt with their problems, I realized I didn’t want to live like them. I wanted to get away from conformity and to form my own life. One in which I could express anger in a healthy way and not push away my feelings.
“And it took me a long time to become myself. I wish I could have known that I didn’t Have to always hide myself. That myself was good enough.”
I think Dee Dee acknowledging that he is good enough is one of the biggest moments in the book. Read that quote and please understand – no matter your back story or your parents or the friends you grew up with – you f**king matter. Took me a long time to acknowledge this for myself and I want to contribute some of my realization to this quote. I took plenty of abuse I thought I deserved. The day I understood my worth, that I was good enough, I stopped taking the abuse.
“I think I might have gotten more out of life had I just seen what was right in front of me.”
It is hard to see what you have when you don’t value yourself. Nothing appears to be special or amazing or worthwhile. When you are in these moments, when you can’t see the glory of what’s in front of you, remember Dee Dee. Remind yourself that it took hindsight to see the moments of his past for good. And if you truly feel like nothing in your life is going right, you can change. I am adamant believer that people can change. You just have to take that first step.
“I learned that I have a good heart, that I didn’t have to live in fear and hurt people before they hurt me.”
I have been terrified my entire life that I will hurt people. That I am a monster and if someone sticks around long enough, they will see. Because of this, and for a long time, I would destroy relationships before a person had a chance to hurt me. Because I have felt that pain when a person you care about most makes you feel worthless. I want you to know right now, it isn’t true. Listen to Dee Dee and understand that you should stop worrying about being a demon and see that you have a good heart. One which will help you survive in this chaotic world. All you have to do is listen to it.