You probably have at least some knowledge about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scrutiny of the ostensibly raunchy lyrics of “Louie Louie,” the Richard Berry-penned rock song popularized in 1963 by an otherwise obscure band called The Kingsmen.
What you may not know is that person responsible for setting off the investigation — which, amazingly, lasted two long years — appears to have been a teacher at Sarasota Junior High School in Florida.
The Smithsonian magazine’s website has the story.
The irate teacher, whose name is frustratingly redacted throughout 119 pages of material at the FBI’s archival website, wrote to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1964 claiming with certainty that the spectacularly indecipherable lyrics of “Louie Louie” were obscene.
“Who do you turn to when your teen age daughter buys and bring home pornographic or obscene materials being sold along with objects directed and aimed at the teenage market in every City, Village and Record shop in this Nation?” the teacher asks.
“We all know there is obscene materials available for those who seek it, but when they start sneaking in this material in the guise of the latest teen age rock & roll hit record these morons have gone too far.”
The letter ends with this quadruple-question-marked plea: “How can we stamp out this menace? ? ? ?”
The letter-writer explains that he (clues hint at a male author) went to considerable lengths to decode the lyrics — no doubt listening to the song he thought was obscene dozens and even hundreds of times.
The letter-writer says that the lyrics he concludes he has discovered are so bawdy that he can’t include them with his letter to Robert Kennedy.
Nevertheless, the very next page in the FBI’s archive is a typed version of someone’s stab at it. It’s pretty dirty. The second stanza, as imagined in someone’s fervid mind, goes:
Tonight at ten I’ll lay her again
We’ll fuck your girl and by the way
And…on that chair I’ll lay her there
I felt my bone…ah…in her hair
Later, on page 22 of the FBI collection, someone else takes a similar stab:
At night at 10 I lay her again
Fuck you girl, Oh, all the way
Oh, my bed and I lay her there
I meet a rose in her hair
According to The Smithsonian, here are the actual lyrics in that stanza:
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.
FBI agents spent two years analyzing the record and playing it at different speeds, according to the Daily Mail. In the final analysis, the Bureau’s gumshoes could not determine what the words were.
The agents never bothered to get in touch with Jack Ely, the original singer for The Kingsmen, to ask him what he had actually sung, notes The Smithsonian.
Numerous artists have recorded the garage classic since the FBI investigation including Paul Revere & the Raiders, Otis Redding, Motorhead, Black Flag and Young MC.
Almost certainly, the best-ever cover version is the collaboration by the members of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity in the 1978 John Landis movie Animal House.
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