Almost Impossible To Understand

The Vox Continental organ was played in a number of smash rock hits, including the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”, Iron Butterfly’s “Inna Gadda da Vidda” and Ray Manzarek of the Doors played one on their first couple albums.  The Vox Portable organ was the recognized leader in tone and tonal versatility, which made it very popular and it was used by Paul Revere and the Raiders.  They were designed to operate with any existing musical instrument amplifier, and they featured handsome hand-crafted cabinets.  Second only to Vox in popularity during the 1960s, Italian manufacturer Farfisa is probably the only other really well-known purveyor of Combo Organs.  It is interesting that both the Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders each recorded Louie at the same studio in April of 1963.  Some people think that they hear a Grand Piano and others think it is a Hammond organ that was used on the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” recording, but it is a Hohner (Model: Pianet L) electric piano.

“Louie Louie” was the creation of Richard Berry, a Los Angeles sideman, session player, and singer-songwriter.  He was inspired by Rene Touzet’s “El Loco Cha Cha” and Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon” to write this song about a lovesick sailor’s lament pouring his heart out about a girl that he missed to a bartender named Louie.  Berry crafted his immortal three-verse sailor’s lament and recorded it with a group called the Pharaohs in 1956.  Sex and drugs entered the music scene in the 60s as the Byrds recorded “Eight Miles High” and Peter, Paul and Mary wrote a children’s song about a dragon named Puff.  In 1963 two Portland-area bands, the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders, recorded the song within days of each other in Portland, Oregon.  The two discs battled it out on the national charts at the end of 1963, with the Kingsmen’s version eventually emerging victorious and establishing itself as the definitive “Louie Louie.”

Louie, Louie, oh no. Me gotta go.  Aye-yi-yi, I said.  Louie Louie, oh baby.  Me gotta go.  Fine little girl waits for me.  Catch a ship across the sea.  Sail that ship about, all alone.  Never know if I make it home.  Three nights and days, I sail the sea.  Think of girl, constantly.  Oh that ship, I dream she’s there.  I smell the rose in her hair.  See Jamaica, the moon above.  It won’t be long, me see my love.  Take her in my arms again.  Tell her I’ll never leave again.

Lead singer Jack Ely had strained his voice participating in a marathon 90-minute “Louie Louie” jam the night before the session and during this recording Ely was singing with braces on his teeth.  Ely also said that he sung far away from the microphone, which caused this fuzzy sound.  A rumor spread that the lyrics were obscene being all about sex and that they were intentionally slurred by the Kingsmen to cover up this alleged fact.  Many listeners thought that the lyrics were laced with profanity, graphically depicting sex between the sailor and his lady and after that people started messing with these lyrics.  The FBI even started a 31-month investigation into the matter and finally concluded they were unable to interpret the exact words in the record.  Some of the dirty lyrics are listed below.

Every night and day, I play with my thing. I f..k you girl, oh, all the way. On my bed, I’ll lay her there. I feel my bone, ah, in her hair. Hey love maker, now hold my thing. It won’t take long, so leave it alone. Hey, senorita, I’m hot as hell. I told her I’d never lay her again.  Louie, Louie was said to be a hump song in the 1990 hilarious film Coupe de Ville.

Louie, Louie, grab her way down low. Louie, Louie, grab her way down low.  A fine little bitch, she waits for me; she gets her kicks on top of me.  Each night I take her out all alone; she ain’t the kind I lay at home Each night at ten, I lay her again; I f..k my girl all kinds of ways.  And on that chair, I lay her there; I felt my boner in her hair.  If she’s got a rag on, I’ll move above; It won’t be long, she’ll slip it off.  I’ll take her in my arms again; tell her I’d rather lay her again.  I am pretty sure that a wang-on refers to the male organ.  How about I end this post with the world’s most infamous party song and some classic Animal House!

Written for 7/21/18 Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt is “organ”.

9 thoughts on “Almost Impossible To Understand

  1. I never paid attention to the lyrics beyond Louie Louie we gotta go. This song would be good if Helen ever uses a prompt for most misunderstood lyrics.

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  2. I never knew that Paul Revere and the Raiders also recorded this song and did so right around the same time as The Kingsmen, which I think is the only version I heard being played on the radio at the time. As usual, Jim, I learned something new from one of your posts.

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  3. For some reason, the Paul Revere version never made it to the air in Chicago, but I remember The Kingsmen’s version very well.

    A friend of mine had a Farfisa organ. In fact, I was with him when he bought it.

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