Saturday, February 23, 2008

You can't prosecute what you can't hear

Louie Louie is a song that nearly all of you have heard, even if you don't know you've heard it. The first three seconds of piano are instantly recognisable, the riff seems to have been around since Neanderthal times. Its been feautured in dozens of memorably mediocre movies and is a garage rock classic in the same league as Wild Thing or Gloria. What is even more brilliant is that thousands and thousands of people have been singing it all these years without knowing the actual words. I am one of these people and I declare without a hint of defensiveness that its virtually impossible to figure out a single coherent sentence. Everything about the song seems to contribute to this - right down from the deliciously thick, voice-buried-in-the-mix production to the classic sneering (leering? jeering?) vocal. The Kingsmen were never heard of before or after this. It must be true - some of us are sent down here for a purpose.

Anyway, because Louie Louie was so damn difficult to understand, people figured there must be something wrong with it. For a detailed analysis of why things went so haywire (the FBI got involved) click on the link below. Its probably the only site around which gives you four different versions of the song (three dirty, one real).


Mister Crowley said...

right you are about 'Louie, Louie'...interestingly, the only version of the song where I could make the lyrics out, was the Motorhead version...which is ironical, considering Motorhead songs are equally mindboggling in the what-are-they-singing Dept.

Scarlet said...

Louie Louie is one of my fav songs. though i have another version by The Kinks. i would like to get hold of the original version.

p.s. if you remember once upon a time channel v has this promo with the auto rickshaw guys and truck drivers doing their own horn-version of louie louie. it was fantastic!

a fan apart said...

Mr C: Motorhead? really? wow...
MT: Its possible that the kinks version you're referring to is actually the kingsmen, i've come across a couple of wrongly labeled ones before. Have seen the ad. It was brilliant.

Scarlet said... u could mail me the version you have.i could compare and see if its wrongly labeled or if the music community has been taking its usual liberty of doing covers.