Don’t listen to ‘Louie, Louie’

In 1963, a song was released by The Kingsmen titled “Louie, Louie.” It was a huge hit 6-25 Page 4A.inddand completely unaffected by the fact that the song lyrics were indecipherable.

They were so indecipherable that an investigation was launched by none other than the FBI to determine if the lyrics were obscene and/or profane.

After almost two years, during which time the FBI spent countless hours listening to the song at all different speeds in the FBI lab, they determined that they still couldn’t understand the lyrics and decided to drop the investigation.

I don’t know what agents were assigned to this project, but I can imagine that after two years of listening to “Louie, Louie” they were somewhat altered by the experience. Perhaps they began wearing Weejuns and madras shirts, gave up their songs, began smoking marijuana and eventually left the FBI to form their own rock band.

Or maybe they wound up in an FBI institution, far away from radio broadcasts, where they took up basket weaving and grew flowers, experiencing real peace and love, man.

Shortly after it was dropped, J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, reopened the investigation because of letters from irate parents who thought the song was undermining the morals of teenagers.

The Kingsmen were never contacted for a copy of the lyrics. Their version was a cover of earlier releases, one dating back to 1957. The lyrics were copyrighted and on file.

I guess the FBI didn’t think of that.

Despite all this, “Louie, Louie” lives on and is sometimes played on classic rock stations.

Jack Ely, the 19-year-old front man for the Kingsmen, died this year. Before his death, Ely said the reason the lyrics can’t be understood is because he sang them after he’d just had his braces tightened and he was shouting into an overhead microphone to be heard above the band.

I have a friend who owns a collection of different versions of “Louie, Louie” that we sometimes listen to.

Still a great song, it captures the essence of music from its decade. It expresses the unrestrained energy, unfettered freedom and celebration of a generation who believed they had the world by the tail and the answers to everything.

Anyone can now go on the internet and get the lyrics to “Louie, Louie.” I don’t really care what they say. I prefer the mystery.

Another song from the 60s recorded by the legendary Ray Stevens, “Little Egypt” was enjoyed by everyone in our entire community, with a few exceptions. Among the exceptions was Mrs. Monroe, a schoolmate’s grandmother, who was so outraged she called the radio station and demanded they stop broadcasting the song. She thought it was disgraceful and destroying the morals of her grandchildren.

I’ll let the reader be the judge. The lyrics to “Little Egypt” are below:

“Step right up, folks

And see Little Egypt do her

Famous dance of the Pyramids

“She walks, she talks

She crawls on her belly

Like a reptile

“Just one thin dime

One tenth of a dollar

Step right up, folks

“I went and bought myself a ticket

And I sat down in the very first row

They pulled the curtain up and when

They turned the spotlight way down low

“Little Egypt came out strutting

Wearing nothing but a

Button and a bow

“Singing, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Gitchee gitchee gitchee

Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah

“She had a ruby on her tummy and

A diamond big as Texas on her toe

She let her hair down and she did

The hoochie koochie real slow

“When she did her special

Number on a zebra skin

I thought she’d stop the show

“Singing, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Gitchee gitchee gitchee

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

“She did a triple somersault

And when she hit the ground

She winked at the audience

And then she turned around

“She had a picture of a

Cowboy tattooed on her spine

Saying Phoenix, Arizona

Nineteen forty-nine

“Yeah, but let me tell you people

Little Egypt doesn’t dance there anymore

She’s too busy mopping and a taking

Care of shopping at the store

“Cause we’ve got seven kids

And all day long they crawl

Around the floor

“Singing, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Gitchee gitchee gitchee

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…”