"Blitzkrieg Bop" is a song by the American punk rock band Ramones. It was released as the band's debut single in February 1976 in the United States. It appeared as the opening track on the band's debut album, Ramones, that was released April 23, 1976.
The song, whose composition was credited to the band as a whole, was written by drummer Tommy Ramone (music and lyrics) and bassist Dee Dee Ramone (lyrics). The song is based on a simple three-chord pattern. +more The song is popular at sporting events where the iconic chant "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" is sometimes shouted as a rallying cry.
"Blitzkrieg Bop" was number 92 on the 2004 Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 31 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and in 2008 Rolling Stone placed it number 18 of the top 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. +more In 2009 it was named the 25th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.
Origin and meaning
The song was mainly written by drummer Tommy Ramone, while bassist Dee Dee Ramone came up with the title (the song was originally called "Animal Hop"). The precise meaning and subject matter of the song is, unlike many of The Ramones' other early compositions, somewhat vague and obscure. +more Tomy Ramone said it was the story of the young audience attending a rock concert ("they're forming in a straight line", "are losing their minds", "are shouting in the back now"). Blitzkrieg is a reference to the German World War II tactic blitzkrieg, which means "lightning war" (fast attack). Dee Dee also changed one other line: the original third verse had the line "shouting in the back now", but Dee Dee changed it to "shoot 'em in the back now". The idea for a chant at the beginning of the song came from the 1975 Bay City Rollers hit song "Saturday Night", which begins with the chant "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night"; Tommy Ramone wanted the Ramones to have a similarly catchy chant. The lyrics "Hey ho, let's go" were inspired by the line "High, low, tipsy toe" from the 1963 song "Walking the Dog" by Rufus Thomas, and specifically the Rolling Stones' cover of the song; the band had enjoyed mocking Mick Jagger's pronunciation of the line, which they thought sounded more like "hey ho". Tommy stated later that he "came up with the chant walking home from the grocery store carrying a bag of groceries. ".
"Blitzkrieg Bop" is a 4/4 time song written in the key of A major. It contains four chords; A major (I), B minor (ii), D major (IV), and E major (V). +more The song relies heavily on the I, IV, and V chords, most notably used in the intro and verses in the form of the I-IV-V chord progression. The ii chord appears only briefly towards the end of the refrain. Johnny Ramone played the entire song with barre chord shapes, as these were signature to his playing style. Dee Dee Ramone simply played the root note of whatever chord the guitarist was playing. Both the rhythm guitar and bass parts, played using downstrokes exclusively, utilize almost constant eighth notes to generate a "wall of sound". Joey Ramone's vocal melody relies on five of the seven notes found in the A major scale; A, B, C, D, and E. Tommy Ramone maintains a steady backbeat on the kick and snare throughout the entire song. Constant eighth notes are played on the hi hat cymbals during the verses, and on the floor tom whilst Joey shouts "Hey, Ho, Let's Go!", whereas quarter notes are used on the ride cymbal during the refrain. Occasional crashes are used to accentuate certain beats.
The song was originally played at a very fast tempo (roughly 177 bpm). When the band performed the song live, they started to play it at even faster tempos, gradually increasing the speed throughout their career. +more At the band's final show, they played the song at an extremely fast tempo well above 200 bpm.
Cash Box said the song had "a hard rock style, crudely fashioned, yet infectious in its energy" and said that "the tune is powerful, and the band's street punk stance is all part of the music."
Bessman, Jim (1993). Ramones: An American Band (New York: St. Martin's).