"I don't think it was until after we got Phil Spector and did End of the Century that I still resigned myself to the fact that we were going to be a cult band," Ramone says laughing. "I'm not that fond of the [End of the Century] production. We did not want to work with him. We wanted to maintain control as much as we could. But some songs it works on, like 'Danny Says.' One of my least favorite things we ever did, 'Baby I Love You,' is on that. None of us performed on that song at all. It was a very painful time because not only was Phil this tortuous guy, I had to leave after my father died and come back again two days later and finish the record."
Rhino's Ramones anthology, Hey! Ho! Let's Go, puts the best of the Ramones on one double CD. But B-sides (where's the brilliant "Babysitter"?) and other oddball inclusions familiar to stuffy boxed sets from overanthologized groups are noticeably absent. Basically, if you own all the Ramones reissues, you have all 63 songs on Hey! Ho! excluding the lost Leave Home gem "Carbona Not Glue." The seminal singles ("Sheena," "Sedated," "Rock 'n' Roll High School," etc.) are here, but glaring omissions abound ("Do You Wanna Dance," "Ramona").
Regardless, the newly remastered songs get rid of considerable sonic mud from previous versions, adding surprising clarity, particularly on the '70s-era tracks. The enclosed 80-page book features pages of rare pics and sharp liners penned by David Fricke. "I'm happy that Rhino wanted to put the anthology out. I'm happy with the booklet; the booklet I think is great. I would have chosen some different songs," says Ramone. "There are some favorites of mine that are not included. Yeah, it sounds great. I didn't listen to the whole thing. My wife, she'll listen to the stuff. She'll go outside to the pool-house and walk on the treadmill and listen to the stuff. I feel funny listening to it."
Does he ever get drunk, jump around and shout things like, "Hey, I was a Ramone!" "No," he says laughing. "It's funnier to see what it means to other people. I just looked at it as my job and did the best that I could. But at the same time, I feel like we are a very important band. I look at it and I wonder if we were the most influential American band. I mean, there are the Beach Boys, but I don't know that they were more influential. The Doors were a tremendous band, one of my favorites, but I don't think they were very influential. But as far as American bands, I think that we are possibly the most influential American band."
Ramone explains that he doesn't want to do interviews anymore. He's tired. The rock 'n' roll fight has taken it out of him. At least he'll never have to stare down at the faces of simian Sabbath fans. "This might be my last interview I ever do," he says emphatically. "Yeah, this is probably my last interview."