If you’ve been paying attention to my posts, I’m a pretty big sports fan. In all probability, all of my remaining posts will feature some sort of sports-related story. This week, however, I’ve decided to change things up a bit in light of the death of Paul Revere, a rock singer from the 60s. Paul Revere and the Raiders once released a cover of a song made famous by another group. Chances are you haven’t heard of The Kingsmen. They were a little rock band from Portland, Oregon. In the summer of 1963, they gave their contribution to the history of rock with 1 defining hit. The song was called Louie Louie, and it’s become a classic rock song.
I dare you to try and tell me those lyrics without any help. It’s nearly impossible. It’s one of the most poorly-recorded songs of all time, and surely the most poorly-recorded song I’ve ever heard. Somebody yells something in the background at 56 seconds of the song. The singer also mistakenly starts singing one bar too early after the guitar solo at 1:58. This recording session must have felt like a complete mess. There’s something catchy about it, though. So catchy in fact, that it’s been covered over a thousand times. But at the time of it’s release, Louie Louie’s lyrics were a mystery.
The song’s popularity, paired with the the suspicion over the lyrics, led the FBI to investigate just what was being said in the song. No, I’m not kidding. The belief was that the song was recorded in such a poor manner because the lyrics were obscene, and The Kingsmen wanted to keep it as hidden as they could. The suspicion of obscenity got so out of hand, that Matthew E. Welsh, governor of Indiana at the time, declared the song “pornographic” and asked the Indiana Broadcasters Association to ban it from the airwaves. The FBI would go on to investigate the song for 2 years before declaring the lyrics “Unintelligible at any speed” and dropping the investigation.
The song’s legend continues to live, however, with it’s status as all-time classic being sealed in the 1978 comedy film “Animal House”. In the movie, a group of frat members, led by John Belushi, drunkenly stammer through the lyrics. It’s fascinating to think that there was a time not too long ago in which just the thought of obscene lyrics could result in an FBI investigation. We’ve come a very long way since. For the record, here are the true lyrics of Louie Louie.