Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ballad of a harmless song

The Kingsmen: their tune banned in Indiana
I was probably in junior high when I heard from somebody that the song "Louie, Louie" contained "nasty" words.

Naturally, I wanted to hear them.

I listened to Top 40 KILT-AM for my music enjoyment in those days (anyone remember the dj Werid Beard?), so it must have been through that station that I tried to access Louie Louie's lascivious lyrics. I played the volume loud, medium and low, but could not make out anything that approached nastiness. Damn!

The words that had young adolescents buzzing simply could not be unlocked through my transistor radio. The Kingsmen, clever lads that they were, obviously were singing the words in such a way that only a select group of listeners knew what was being said. But, even if young listeners such as myself couldn't decipher exactly what words they were singing, there was little doubt the Kingsmen were having a hell of a good time doing it.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the United States government was investigating. They had received outraged letters from parents, who wanted the song stopped on the grounds of public decency. The FBI interviewed a couple members of the Kingsmen to get to the bottom of the obscenity. The Kingsmen said they recorded the song in Seattle and that no one complained about it on the West Coast. The song was then re-released by the Wand label on the East Coast and that no words in the song had been changed.

Still, the governor of Indiana banned the song from the Hoosier State.

The Kingsmen told the G-men they tried to counter the obscenity charges, but that seemed to only fuel the controversy. The Wand label offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could substantiate the alleged sexually suggestive song lyrics.

Some people were hearing this on the record while others heard these words. Other listeners, however, said these lyrics were coming out of their radio.

The FBI Laboratory put the record on its turntable and could not corroborate.

Some 40 years later, the "Louie, Louie" mystery continues when all along the words to the song really are quite harmless.
It all goes to show, I guess, that fear sometimes can be ridiculous.
[History of Rock/kingsmen]

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