I give it an “8,” Mr. Clark, because you can dance to it … and investigate the lyrics for years

We all danced to it, but some radio stations wouldn’t play it because everyone “knew” the lyrics were obscene and nasty.

The Kingsmen with Jack Ely center.

I know that. You know that. But I did not know the FBI spent two years investigating whether the Kingsmen’s 1963 “Louie Louie” was obscene. This is what Smithsonian magazine is reporting this month. Not only did the FBI investigate for two years, without ever bothering to interview singer Jack Ely, they compiled a 119-page report — replete with the FBI’s obligatory redactions with a black marker. (On page 14 you’ll find one version of what the Feds thought the lyrics were. Warning: Obscene language not suitable for the office.) The probe was apparently prompted by a letter that said the song lyrics “are so filthy that I cannot enclose them in this letter” and complained of  “sneaking in this material in the guise of the latest teen age rock & roll hit record these morons have gone too far.” According to a Smithsonian link to Snopes, the actual lyrics are:

Louie, Louie,
me gotta go.
Louie, Louie,
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.

We couldn’t understand the words then or now, but, oh, did we dance to them — in an unairconditioned empty storefront in downtown Bridgeport, Texas. And you thought the IRS probe of tea partiers was a waste of time.

6 comments on “I give it an “8,” Mr. Clark, because you can dance to it … and investigate the lyrics for years

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    Television censors and law enforcement officials went into paroxysms when Elvis swiveled his hips, they believed he was the devil or his disciple. Chuck Berry went to prison for nailing a teenaged groupie, she’d be old now but if we could find her she would be an instant celebrity, she’d be on the late shows, The View, and on the cover of People magazine.

  2. How old was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “wife”?


  3. Vernon Clayson says:

    She was 13 when they married and I believe she was a cousin of his. He was married several times, I’m hardly a psychologist but he probably was hung up on marrying because of his Christian upbringing, he should have settled for one night stands but it was a different time. He was a great musician, I was a big fan of his and all of the rock and rollers, including Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Not so much the English versions. There are some great videos of Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino in combo on You Tube, only the moribund would miss the enthusiasm among them.

  4. I saw this guy recently at the Smith Center covering a Jerry Lee Lewis hit, replete with hitting the high notes with his foot:

  5. Being from the Pacific Northwest, the Kingsmen were legendary in our area, so much that there was a movement in the mid-1980’s to make Louie Louie the state song of Washington. Of course, some that attended the Kingsmen concerts swore that the lyrics were occasionally altered so they could live up to the song’s reputation 🙂

  6. Boost ticket sales.


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