In the news:
If he were still alive, Richard Berry, the man who penned the lyrics for the iconic fraternity-rock anthem "Louie Louie," might be shaking his head in disbelief.
Since he's dead, however, he's pretty much just lying there.
Berry wrote the song as a simple sea shanty about a sailor trying to get back to his lady love. But a middle school marching band in Benton Harbor, Mich., was almost banned from playing "Louie Louie" at an upcoming festival because of what the school's superintendent called "sexually explicit lyrics."
Note that they were going to play an instrumental version of the song. I'm betting this is the first time an instrumental has been banned over its lyrics.
Benton Harbor Supt. Paula Dawning reversed her decision Thursday after parents at McCord Middle School came out in support of the song.
Oddly, all of the parents showed up wearing togas.
It wasn't the first time parents and teachers questioned the song's seaworthiness as family fare. The long-simmering pop- culture controversy dates back to 1963, when the most famous version of "Louie Louie" was recorded by The Kingsmen.
The band's slurred, barely intelligible take on the song fueled rampant speculation that the lyrics were obscene, prompting a two-year FBI investigation that ended when the feds concluded they were unable to interpret any of the wording. Since then, "Louie Louie" has become one of the most recorded and requested rock songs of all time.
When you can't understand the lyrics, apparently, your filthy, filthy mind fills in the gaps.
Dawning expressed concern that the allegedly racy content of The Kingsmen's hit made it an inappropriate choice for the band to play at Saturday's Blossomtime Festival, even though the marching band was not going to sing it.
But band members and parents of McCord students complained to the Board of Education Tuesday that it was too late to learn another song in time for the festival, The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported. In addition, many parents said they doubted the students even know the words to "Louie Louie," the newspaper reported. --The Chicago Sun Times
For the record, they are:
me gotta go.
me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she wait for me;
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone;
I never think I'll make it home
Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there;
I smell the rose in her hair.
Me see Jamaica moon above;
It won't be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then
I tell her I never leave again.
And how could someone possibly misinterpret this? Well, thanks to
The Smoking Gun, we now know.
Oh Louie, Louie
Get her way down low
A fine little girl, awaiting for me
She's just a girl across the way
Well, I'll take her and park all alone
She's not a girl I'd lay at home...
It gets worse, but I'll let you explore the Smoking Gun link on your own. There are some really funny documents from when the controversy over the song exploded in 1963/1964, and the song disappeared from U.S. radio.
The only upside I can think of is that if parents are busy trying to ban "Louie, Louie," they won't have time to eliminate science from schools. (If you have to get rid of a subject, make it something everyone hates, like calculus.)