Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Spooktober Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Dee Dee Ramone and producer Daniel Rey wrote this song for the 1989 Stephen King movie Pet Sematary, which is based on his book that was published in 1983.
Stephen King is a huge Ramones fan and invited the band to his Bangor, Maine home as they played in New England. During the visit, he handed Dee Dee Ramone a copy of his Pet Sematary novel, and the bassist retreated to the basement. One hour later, Dee Dee returned with the lyrics to “Pet Sematary”. Shortly afterwards, drummer Marky Ramone said that Dee Dee’s attitude that day showed that he could achieve his plans to leave the band and attempt a career at hip hop music. He likened Dee Dee to King, saying that both wrote things people could relate to because they “penetrated to the curiosity, fears, and insecurities carried around with them and couldn’t put into words.”
Producer Daniel Rey became a co-writer by assisting with the structure of the song, while producer Jean Beauvoir of the Plasmatics helped give the song a more commercial style fit for radio play and film inclusion. As “Pet Sematary” sounded closer to the rock ballads of the period, it was a struggle for Johnny Ramone to play the arpeggios and chords, despite Dee Dee’s guidance.
The music video for “Pet Sematary” was filmed at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in the eponymous New York village. Shot on a cold night in January 1989, the video features black and white shots of the Ramones walking through the graveyard, as well as color footage of the band and various others miming to the song alongside an open grave. The video ends with the band playing on a hydraulic platform placed inside the open grave, which is gradually lowered until a group of undertakers cover the grave with a headstone that reads “The Ramones.” It was the last video featuring Dee Dee Ramone, who would depart the band and be replaced with C. J. Ramone. The video features cameos by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, as well as members of The Dead Boys. An alternate edit of the video features the aforementioned scenes interspersed with scenes from the film, with the opening footage of the band walking through the graveyard now appearing in color.
Another Ramones song, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” also appears in the film.
The Ramones never had a major impact on MTV, but their video for this song got some airtime on the network. Set in a graveyard, the video was directed by Bill Fishman, who also helmed their clip for “I Wanna Be Sedated.”