Tuesday, April 28, 2015

'Unintelligible at any speed'

That phrase about sums up an era that ended decades ago.

Evidently, Jack Ely, the singer of the ultimate party song "Louie, Louie" performed in 1963 by The Kingsmen from Portland, has died just up the road in Redmond.

I remember the song well as it was considered dirty and you were somehow breaking some taboo just by listening to it.

It was rumored at the time to be investigated for its questionable lyrics.

Well, it was confirmed later that yes, indeed, the FBI made an exhaustive probe of the "obscene" lyrics and issued a 455-page report that determined the words were "unintelligible at any speed."

Is that not hilarious?

Of course, if you survived the Sixties, it was further proof that those in power had no idea what was going on and deserved the upheaval that followed.

Actually, "Louie, Louie" was more representative of the 1950s than the 1960s. The song, by Richard Berry, first came out in 1957.  Yes, another case where a song by an African-American becomes iconic after a lily-white band performs it.

By the end of 1963, everything would change. The Beatles second album, and it's first to be released in the U.S., came out on Nov. 22 of that year. What a day that was. By the time The Beatles landed in America in early 1964, this country would never be the same.

"Louie, Louie," in its own misunderstood way, represented an end of innocence, when harmless lyrics could provide such controversy.

The song lives on through countless versions and immortality in "Animal House," which was, coincidentally, filmed at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

With Ely's passing, the song's main line stands out: "We gotta go."

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