53rd & 3rd

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"53rd & 3rd"
Song by the Ramones
from the album Ramones
RecordedFebruary 2–19, 1976 at Plaza Sound, Radio City Music Hall, New York
GenrePunk rock
Songwriter(s)Dee Dee Ramone
Producer(s)Craig Leon, Tommy Ramone

"53rd & 3rd" is a song by the American punk rock band the Ramones.


The song, written by bassist Dee Dee Ramone, refers to what was then a well-known spot for male prostitution in New York City, known as "the Loop".[1] The area was a center of gay nightlife decades before the West Village became prominent, and was home to well-known hustler bars, most notably Cowboys, Rounds, and Red, from the 1970s through the 1990s.[2]

Shortly after the song was written, the block between 3rd and Lexington avenues was cleared to make way for one of Manhattan's tallest skyscrapers, the Citigroup Center. Years later, the Lipstick Building was built on the east side of 3rd Avenue at 53rd. However, gay hustlers remained in abundance at bars on 53rd between 3rd and 1st avenues.

In the song, Dee Dee's lyrics referenced the wavering feelings of a "straight" teenage hustler who confuses being purchased with being attractive and also confuses violence with masculinity. Legend has it that Dee Dee himself, bassist and primary songwriter of the Ramones, worked as a hustler in order to pay for his heroin habit. He refused to discuss the matter, fueling speculation that the track is, in fact, autobiographical. In the film End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, other members the band seem to insinuate that the story is indeed true. At the end of the song the protagonist of "53rd and 3rd," who bemoans the fact that he's "the one they never pick," is finally chosen by a customer but produces a razor blade to do "what God forbade." He is chased by the police, but is pleased that he has "proved that [he's] no sissy."

Record label[edit]

The song also lent its name to an influential[3] British indie pop label. It was run by The Pastels' Stephen Pastel and friends, and released records by the likes of Talulah Gosh, Shop Assistants, The Vaselines, The Soup Dragons, and BMX Bandits.

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by Metallica on the Ramones tribute album We're a Happy Family, with frontman James Hetfield singing the verses and chorus and drummer Lars Ulrich singing the bridge.

Shotgun Messiah covered the song on their EP I Want More.

On the live album We're Outta Here!, Lars Fredriksen and Tim Armstrong of Rancid join the Ramones in performing the song, with both playing guitar and Lars singing the bridge.

The Knockouts covered "53rd and 3rd" on their 2008 EP The Remarkable Sounds of India.[4] Their version was sung by guest vocalist Mick Sheridan, in Hindi.

Screeching Weasel covered "53rd and 3rd" on their album Beat is on the Brat that was released in 1998 and includes 18 covers of Ramones songs.

Rod Stewart referenced 53rd and 3rd as the location in his song "The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)".


  1. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: MIDTOWN; Gay Bar Shut in 'Loop' - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1994-09-04. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  2. ^ Masello, David (2004-09-26). "New York Observed > Time, Gentlemen". NY Times. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  3. ^ Allmusic Entry about The Pastels by Ned Raggett "...in addition, their influence helped bring international notice to a resurgent Scottish musical community, with frontman Stephen Pastel's legendary 53rd and 3rd label helping to launch the careers of bands including the Jesus & Mary Chain, Shop Assistants, BMX Bandits, the Vaselines and the Soup Dragons." at [1]
  4. ^ "Welcome to Rough Trade Shops". Roughtrade.com. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-15.

External links[edit]