The Most Popular Rock and Roll Song Ever

Posted in: Rock by Mark Gordon Brown on October 5th, 2009 | 7 Comments

What caused the song “Louie, Louie” to become one of the most recorded songs in history? Were the lyrics really dirty?

In 1957 song writer Richard Berry sold a song he had written two years earlier for $750. That song went on to become the most popular rock and roll song in history. That song was “Louie, Louie”. Part of the reason for the songs success was the 1963 recording by the Kingsmen, in which most of the songs lyrics were pretty much unintelligible. This made people think they were dirty, or sexual, and we all know sex sells. The American FBI was brought forth and held an investigation that pretty much gave the song any additional attention it needed to secure its place in history.

Louie, Louie has been recorded by over one thousand different performers, and has sold more than one quarter of a billion copies in all its forms.

 Rolling Rock by Jami Dwyer.
image source
*see below

Similar sounding songs include The Kinks “You Really Got Me”, which was their attempt at trying to figure out the chords in Louie, Louie, which they did record later. Also The Troggs recorded “Wild Thing” which uses a similar riff.

The song actually reports a guy (a sailor) talking to a bartender (named Louie) and is telling him about his fine girl. Here are the lyrics.

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

A fine little girl, she wait for me,
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone,
I never think I’ll make it home.

Three nights and days we sailed the sea,
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream of she there,
I smell the rose in her hair.

Me see Jamaica moon above,
It won’t be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then,
I tell her I never leave again.

You will note the song has a Jamaican flavor. The original recording by the Kingsmen was sung by Jack Ely who was wearing braces at the time and had thought he was only rehearsing when in fact it was the one and only take being made for that song. He claims to have stained his voice the night before and reportedly the microphone on the day of the recording was too high for him, forcing him to stand on tip toes, all adding to the quirky effect of the song.

*If the cat picture confused you, see the name of the beer on the lable, also a confusing picture fit with the idea of a confusing, misunderstood, song, and cats are popular, so is the song.  It has a deep meaning on so many levels, think of more yourself.

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