When trying to help your kids develop the same impeccable taste in music as you, Chris Ward says the first and only rule is “Just put on all types of stuff and see what catches their ear.” Ward, AKA CJ Ramone, AKA the second bassist in the greatest American punk band of all time, initially exposed his three kids mostly to reggae, playing them Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Decker “pretty much in utero”.
“I try to get them to recognize the message: I am who I am, I don’t care what you think.”
But he quickly branched out with everything from Elvis, to The Shirelles, to Iron Maiden, to Pearl Jam, to the punk that put food on the table. He wanted his older daughter to know punk isn’t just a man’s game, so he played her plenty of Runaways and Joan Jett. His son, who is autistic with a strong rebellious streak, sparked immediately to The Clash’s “I Fought The Law.” With punk, Ward says, “I try to get them to recognize the message: I am who I am, I don’t care what you think.”
Even if you’re not trying to get your progeny to retroactively join the Blank Generation, you can’t argue with Ward’s overarching advice: that you should make music ubiquitous in your kids’ lives. “While they’re doing their homework, there’s music on. When I cook dinner, there’s music on. In the car. It’s part of the background to them, and when a song comes on that everyone likes, you all sing along. Make it part of everything.”
If you’re wondering what a bonafide Ramone puts on the stereo when he wants his kids to hear some punk, here are 11 tracks Ward recommends. Introduce them to the genre quick, before they become Fall Out Boy fans.