"Unintelligible at any speed."
May 5, 2005 10:27 AM   Subscribe

"Unintelligible at any speed." No, not Ralph Nader mumbling, but the lyrics to "Louie Louie," in the FBI's humble assessment more than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, this week a Michigan school superintendent banned a middle school marching band from playing the song... even without anyone singing the lyrics.
posted by twsf (47 comments total)
 
Where is John Belushi now that we need him?

Although, it is nice to know that this song still has the power to do this 40+ years down the line.

duh duh duh, duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh...let's give it to 'em, right now!
posted by jonmc at 10:32 AM on May 5, 2005


I'm frequently out to lunch, so maybe it's just me, but I had no idea that Louie Louie was obscene. My bet is that most of those kids had no clue either. Kudos to the Super for the heads up!
posted by Rusty Iron at 10:33 AM on May 5, 2005


I heard a rumor they're going to play Christina Aquilera's Genie in a Bottle instead because its about genies and bottles and stuff and not about sex and vaginas and icky stuff like that.
posted by fenriq at 10:34 AM on May 5, 2005


I'm frequently out to lunch, so maybe it's just me, but I had no idea that Louie Louie was obscene.

Because it's not. The people who made this decision are wrong:

Louie Louie

CHORUS:

Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home

CHORUS

Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl, constantly
On that ship, I dream she's there
I smell the rose in her hair.

CHORUS

Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!

GUITAR SOLO

See Jamaica, the moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
Take her in my arms again
Tell her I'll never leave again

CHORUS

Let's take it on outa here now
Let's go!!


Unless "Smell the rose in her hair" is an extremely veiled cunnilingus reference, there's nothing obscene about this song. What a bunch of hidebound leekslappers.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:37 AM on May 5, 2005



I smell the rose in her hair.


I thought that was "I put my boner in her there."

My mom told me that the controversy over this song was so heated back in the day that they weren't allowed to play this song at her high school dances. Amazing how some shit never changes.

At any rate, "Louie," is on my list of Things, That If You Don't Like Them You Have No Soul. So there.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on May 5, 2005


It might harm the children.

By the way, the original lyrics were somewhat, um, adult in nature.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:39 AM on May 5, 2005


Well, rock and roll My mom told me that the controversy over this song was so heated back in the day that they weren't allowed to play this song at her high school dances.

Maybe this is the same school superintendent.

posted by me3dia at 10:39 AM on May 5, 2005


By the way, the original lyrics were somewhat, um, adult in nature.

Linky? The ones I posted above are the only ones I've ever seen.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:40 AM on May 5, 2005


Oh duh, the second link above, never mind.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2005


Louie Louie

CHORUS:

Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Fill it with black tar Mexican heroin, all alone
Talk real dirty on the phone

CHORUS

Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl, constantly
On that ship, I dream she's there
I woke up, ejaculate in my hair.

CHORUS

Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!

GUITAR SOLO
CROTCH THRUST

See Jamaica, the moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
Take her in the ass again
Tell her I'll never leave again

CHORUS

Let's take it on outa here now
Let's go!! FUCK SHIT PISS BUNGHOLE LAOTIAN WHORE!

posted by Divine_Wino at 10:46 AM on May 5, 2005


.
posted by Specklet at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2005


According to this article, the superintendent has pretty high standards for academics. Me thinks this just might be a misguided decision.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2005


She obviously needs to take a few classes at Rock and Roll High School...
posted by jonmc at 10:55 AM on May 5, 2005


If you all haven't read the book "Louie, Louie" they investigate in GREAT detail. I never would have thought that an entire book about one song could actually be this fascinating.
posted by indiebass at 11:06 AM on May 5, 2005


Rock and Roll High School? With Clint Howard?

(I just programmed my phone to ring with Louie Louie, I'm so happy... Although, for some reason, the e minor is off on my phone, so I had to use a straight e. And I'm having a hard time getting the tempo right...)
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on May 5, 2005


In The Clash's version, the lyrics are very clear and they're not dirty as far as I can tell:

Louie Louie, oh baby, we gotta go
I'm walking down the Champs Elysee
That's my gun
That's my gun
Hey, hey, hey
That's my gun
Walkin'
That's my gun
That's my gun
That's my gun
Louie lou-eye we gotta go
Louie lou-eye we gotta go
I'm walkin'
What can I say
What can what can what canI say
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:09 AM on May 5, 2005


My dad is a high school band director, and our next-door neighbor once came over to request that the band stop playing this song because of how horribly obscene the lyrics were (again, no singing in the band). My dad politely told him to piss off. It probably didn't help that the guy was a fundie nutcase whose dozen kids all joined band in middle school, then abruptly quit before high school, and also that he always let their dog shit in our yard.
posted by aaronetc at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2005


People keep getting the words wrong.

Louie, Louie!
We gotta go.
I said now Louie, Louie!
We gotta go.
You know the pain, that's in my heart,
it just shows, I'm not very smart.
Who needs love, when you've got a gun?
Who needs love, to have any fun?
I said now Louie, Louie!
We gotta go!
Said, now screwie Louie!
We gotta go.
Louie, Louie!
We gotta go.
I said now Louie, Louie!
We gotta go!


...and that one 45 is the only evidence we have that there was a time when Black Flag didn't suck...
posted by koeselitz at 11:22 AM on May 5, 2005


my band is SO doing the FBI version of LL. That beats hell outta the 50 odd versions I've heard before.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:28 AM on May 5, 2005


In 6th grade, Rick, the cool kid knew the REAL words to Wooly Bully.
They included "Matador Halley was a two bit whore..." and went downhill from there.
Not that it's relevant here, but I just had to tell someone. Thanks. That is all.
posted by cccorlew at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2005


Hey, all I can say is, it played in Peoria . . .

Not kidding about this: when I lived there in the mid-90s the local Leukemia Society produced its gem of a fundraiser "Louie Louie for Leukemia"--your basic fundraising walk with the added touch that all walkers got a kazoo to play "Louie Louie" as they walked. Possibly my favorite fundraising idea ever, and I do this for a living. To my knowledge, no one complained about obscenity (and if you can get away with that in Peoria, you should be OK anywhere else--maybe this superintendent should hear about that).
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:33 AM on May 5, 2005


In middle school we had a guest speaker who was the Kingsmen's singer's mother. She explained that he had had braces put in that week, so between that and the recording quality, the lyrics were mostly unintelligible. For real.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:53 AM on May 5, 2005


Hm, at our high school it was "Mony Mony" that was banned for alleged but non-existant dirty lyrics. The main consequence of this was getting people's imaginations fired up to invent dirty lyrics.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:54 AM on May 5, 2005


Hey, you can't talk about Louie Louie without linking here
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:17 PM on May 5, 2005


The song is actually about a family conflict between Louis XIII and Louis XIV, and Divine_Who is right about the ejaculate.
posted by Peter H at 12:18 PM on May 5, 2005


Hm, at our high school it was "Mony Mony" that was banned for alleged but non-existant dirty lyrics. The main consequence of this was getting people's imaginations fired up to invent dirty lyrics.

Ha, I remember that, "come on everybody get laid, get f-cked!" What did you guys sing?
posted by Peter H at 12:20 PM on May 5, 2005


klangklangston, you might want to try an E7 if that sounds OK on your phone.

I think my favorite lyrics were the phonetic ones.
Looweeloowhy ono sadday we gowgow
posted by 6550 at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2005




What the hell is this thread about? I've never, ever heard that this song was considered obscene. Links?
posted by odinsdream at 12:36 PM on May 5, 2005




Abstinence-only lyrics would fix all of this.
posted by sellout at 1:38 PM on May 5, 2005


The Smoking Gun on "Louie Louie"

Suddenly it's the 1960s all over again. Unbelievable.

Of course, it doesn't help that the company that owns the rights won't let anybody print the real lyrics, undoubtedly thinking that it would destroy the song's mystique.
posted by pmurray63 at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2005


Suddenly it's the 1960s all over again.

So where's all the free-lovin' hippie chicks, cheap drugs, and good music at?
posted by jonmc at 1:50 PM on May 5, 2005


Wikipedia on Louie, Louie, mentioning the fact that the Kingsmen's version was banned in the state of Indiana.
posted by obloquy at 1:54 PM on May 5, 2005


I live in St. Joseph, MI, which is just across the river from Benton Harbor, the town where this is taking place. It was front page news yesterday. Wait until they hear they're back on the national news ... The last time, you may recall, they didn't look so shiny, either.

The schools aren't particularly good: some would say they are the worst school district in the state.

The crime rate is frightening.

But having solved all those problems, guns in the schools, teen pregnancy, drugs, gangs and everything else, the school district finally has time to clean up rogue middle school bands.
posted by Mur at 1:58 PM on May 5, 2005


You know what I would pay $5 right this second? A marching band cover of "Too Drunk to Fuck". That would go down like an ice-cold glass of lemonade.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:00 PM on May 5, 2005


Suddenly it's the 1960s all over again.

So where's all the free-lovin' hippie chicks, cheap drugs, and good music at?


I meant the early 1960s. Sorry for any confusion.
posted by pmurray63 at 2:13 PM on May 5, 2005


Every rock 'n' roll band in the Northwest played "Louie Louie" -- back in the late 50s, before the rest of the country discovered it. (My uncle was in one of them, but they never recorded their version, though supposedly they were the first NW band to play the song.) Most of those bands recorded it, and their versions match the official lyrics cited above. The "controversial" lyrics all stem from Jack Ely's inability to enunciate. Not that it was a bad thing...

By the way, the original lyrics were somewhat, um, adult in nature.

If you were referring to the second link in the FPP, you might want to read that page a little more closely.

There is no question at all about the original "Louie" lyrics, nor particularly about what the Kingsmen sang. It's squeaky clean and anyone who thinks otherwise is smoking crack.

However... there is a swear word in the Kingsmen's version, but not in the lyrics. I read an interview years ago with one of the band members who claimed that the drummer or someone messed up, and swore "FUCK!" on the recording, and it's audible, but he wouldn't say where.

Armed with that knowledge, I listened to the track, and there it is, clear as day in the background, right between the chorus and the "Three nights and days I sail the sea" verse. Check it out. It's called "(indistinct yell in the background)" on the Wikipedia page, but it's not all that indistinct.

It's weird how every 20 years "Louie" gets back in the news, like clockwork. Almost exactly 20 years ago I was at the Washington State Capitol building for the "Louie Louie" rally when we were trying to get it named the state song. (It's the state "rock song" instead.)
posted by litlnemo at 2:16 PM on May 5, 2005


"I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played."

Typical school administrator. Feign ignorance, make irrational decision immediately following a single complaint.
posted by MrZero at 2:19 PM on May 5, 2005


Peter H writes " Ha, I remember that, 'come on everybody get laid, get f-cked!' What did you guys sing?"

Where I come from it was "Hey, motherf*cker, get laid, get f*cked!".
posted by clevershark at 2:26 PM on May 5, 2005


A marching band cover of "Too Drunk to Fuck"

Divine_Wino, I think I love you. (/ex-band-geek)

When I was a young whippersnapper, we not only played "Louie Louie" sans retribution, but sang along as well. And yet somehow we avoided sending the town into a tailspin of wanton immorality. Maybe it's something in Michigan's water?

(Then again, we did try to make it our state song, so we may just be filthy heathens.)
posted by Vervain at 2:33 PM on May 5, 2005


Junior High, Indiana early 60's. Song banned. Always somehow got played at the Friday night dance after the ball game. Jr High gym teacher chaperone always got pissed and threatened expulsion if he could find out who did it. Just one of many different little things that influenced enough kids then that by the time they became young adults in the late 60's had seen enough of the 'ruling establishment'. Not all that different from now.
posted by mss at 3:11 PM on May 5, 2005


At any rate, "Louie," is on my list of Things, That If You Don't Like Them You Have No Soul. So there.
True. But then, education system administrators are not known for being over-endowed with soul, more's the pity.
posted by dg at 3:28 PM on May 5, 2005


Where I come from it was "Hey, motherf*cker, get laid, get f*cked!".

Ha, clevershark, my highschool was much more inclusive! laid and f*cking for everyone, not just a single motherf*cker!


It's sad to note that this was (to my memory) to Billy Idol's version.

Maybe he's the sad motherf*cker?


(pondering)

posted by Peter H at 3:44 PM on May 5, 2005


What did you guys sing?
All I'm sayin' is that pony got around, man.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:52 PM on May 5, 2005


Hah!
posted by Peter H at 4:39 PM on May 5, 2005


"Louie, Louie" has been freed!
posted by Mur at 6:18 AM on May 6, 2005


« Older The growing backlash against religious...   |   Can I have your sound? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments