top of page

And for your listening and reading pleasure… The Louie Louie Story!

I was born on Christmas Eve in 1948. For most of my life, I believed that Little Rita Faye’s record of “I fell out of a Christmas Tree” came out the same day I did and that the song was about me. I believed this mostly because my parents played it for me until the record died from overuse and a new little sister arrived in1955. Imagine my shock a few years ago to discover that song wasn't published until 1953!

Giving up old legends are hard, I guess.

About the time, I was being introduced to “I fell out of a Christmas Tree,” Richard Berry wrote a calypso inspired song called, “Louie Louie.” Some people claim he wrote it in 1953, others say 1955. Hey boo, I dunno. Either way, I was still singing “I fell Out of a Christmas Tree.” Take your pick.

“Louie Louie“ didn’t come into my life until the mid 1960s when the Kingsmen recorded it…and I LOVED it. My cousin, Karen Daggs, can testify to that fact. Together with the Beatles and Roy Orbison and The Temptations and The Righteous Brothers and The Beach Boys and The Supremes, we danced a million miles in front of Mama’s big mirror that hung over a sofa in our Living Room. (Today, that mirror hangs in my own Living Room, but oddly, it seems a lot smaller now—but I digress.)

Somewhere on that timeline, I heard that “Louie Louie” was “dirty.” I was both intrigued and perplexed. I remember saying, “what makes it dirty?” And of course, lots of folks…mostly teenaged boys…were eager to enlighten me. They heard whatever they personally thought was dirty in it, sharing those interpretations with me…behind their hands, under their breaths, leering…well, you know…teenaged boylike. So, because of Louie Louie, whether dirty words were actually in the song or not…I got quite a filthy education during this era.

Here’s Richard Barry’s original “Louie, Louie”


Here are the actual lyrics to Louie Louie by Richard Barry and the Pharohs

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

Fine little girl she waits for me Me catch the ship for cross the sea I sail the ship all alone I never think me make it home

Louie, Louie, oh, me gotta go Louie, Louie, me gotta go

Three nights and days me sail the sea Me think of girl constantly On the ship I dream she there I smell the rose in her hair

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

Me see Jamaica moon above It won't be long, me see my love Me take her in my arms and then I tell her I never leave again Louie, Louie, oh, me gotta go Louie, Louie, me gotta go I say, me gotta go I say, me gotta go

Years later, a movie called “Coup DeVille“ came out. And the scene they did about “Louie Louie” was indeed…um…”dirty,” but hilarious. It still makes me laugh to this day. Especially when I remember the various explanations of the 1960s. At the time, I assumed everyone knew these things but me. These days I’d just check it out on Wikipedia.

At the time, I thought this was a Fort Smith issue—and I was the only fool who didn’t get the hoped for “filth” in that song. But as time passed, I realized that “Louie Louie“ interpretations were vast and eternal. Like politics or religion or regional biases, we hate giving up things we‘ve believed for lo these many years. Even when we really know the truth, we prefer the myth. However, the interpretation of the lyrics to the Kingsman’s version of “Louie Louie”—one of my favorite examples of much ado about nothing—has entertained me over the course of the last 60 odd year…ever bit as much as the song itself.

Enjoy Classic Rock’s story about “Louie Louie” below. I especially love the Indiana ban.

38 views0 comments


bottom of page