Song of the (yester)day: "Louie, Louie"

2 Feb

I got all wrapped up in work yesterday, and failed to produce a song of the day entry. Alas! I’ll have to do two today. OTHERWISE THE UNIVERSE WILL EXPLODE.

Like many in my generation, I first encountered the song “Louie, Louie” in the movie Animal House. Since then I’ve heard a lot of other versions: Richard Berry’s original; a scorching rendition by the Sonics; and – a personal favorite – hardcore punk band Black Flag’s version:

You know the pain
That’s in my heart
It just shows
I’m not very smart
Who needs love, when you’ve got a gun?
Who needs love, to have any fun?

One thing I’ve found is that a lot of people I’ve spoken to about the song have no idea what it’s about. This isn’t too surprising. The hit cover by the Kingsmen is the one most folks are familiar with, and it’s all but incomprehensible. You might recall that the FBI studied the Kingsmen version for 31 months in an effort to decipher its supposedly obscene lyrics, without success.

The narrator in the song is a Jamaican man – probably drunk – confiding his romantic troubles to his bartender, Louie. His girlfriend is waiting for him back in Jamacia,. He can’t take being away from her anymore – “me gotta go”. He imagines what the ocean voyage will be like, and how fine it will be to see her again. Once she’s in his arms, he’ll promise her he will never leave again.

So there you go! “Louie, Louie”, a woozy declaration of eternal love.

One Response to “Song of the (yester)day: "Louie, Louie"”

  1. Never teh Bride February 3, 2006 at 2:24 pm #

    Ever seen the Bloom County strip where the three presidential candidates (what was it, Bush, Dukakis, and Bill the Cat) were asked to explain how they interpreted Louie Louie in order to demonstrate their political viability?

    But beyond that, I can vaguely understand what the guy is saying. I’ve never understood how people could think it’s all about all these wacky things people think it’s about.

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