We're a Happy Family

Song Review by

This fan favorite from Rocket To Russia is a good example of the Ramones’ underrated skill at using the pop song for social satire. The lyrics attack the ideal of the ‘normal’ American family by presenting a machine-gun portrait of a family whose morals and psychology are completely out of whack: “Daddy’s telling lies/Baby’s eating flies/Mommy’s on pills/Baby’s got the chills/I’m friends with the president/I’m friends with the pope/We’re all making a fortune/Selling daddy’s dope.” The music keeps these blackly humorous lyrics in sharp focus with a simple melody that avoids choruses and bridges in favor of a single motif that rises and falls in a hypnotic, fast-paced style that leaves plenty of room for the song’s many punch lines to sing in. The Ramones attack this song with their customary gusto on their recording of “We’re A Happy Family,” building it on a pulsating combination of simple bass and guitar riffs that heighten the song’s hypnotic edge through their speed and economy and pacing them with one-two drumming that keeps it all moving at a steady clip. Joey Ramone spits out the lyrics at a similarly fast-paced rate in his New York sneer and the song is capped by an amusing finale where the music is drowned out by the chatter of the family described in its lyrics. The end result became a live staple for the Ramones that was taken on as an anthem by the group’s audiences, who would cheerfully sing-along with its warped vision of family life. “We’re A Happy Family” remains a cult favorite with punk aficionados and frequently appears on Ramones compilations.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rocket to Russia 1977 Wrong 2:31
All the Stuff (And More), Vol. 2 1990 Sire / Warner Bros. 2:30