Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

Louie Louie, or, The Age-Inappropriate Cultural Influences Just Keep Coming

My five-month-old has a new favorite song. How are you gonna keep 'em down on Old MacDonald's farm after they've heard "Louie Louie"? Even our family version of "Old MacDonald," with our verses about zombies, whales, giant squid, and the Borg cannot hold a candle to it.

Like most people, I knew only the refrain to "Louie Louie," so I tried looking up the lyrics online.

Dan said, "That song has lyrics?"

Well, yeah. In fact, it was originally written as a sea chantey, as I first learned from the rather charming small film Coupe de Ville. The film makes brilliant use of the song as a sort of Rorschach test for the three main characters, who disagree vehemently about the lyrics and each try to sing the song as they imagine it. Lovely running gag, and something I'd probably use to start a discussion on how to reveal character without exposition, if I were ever to teach creative writing again.

The trouble is that, having amused myself with the dirty lyrics the FBI spent thirty months investigating and other variations, I am now unable to memorize the real, quite child-friendly version of the song. I have to resort to the wise advice on this compendium of variations:
The best, if not the only way to sing this song correctly is to simply take the Kingsmen's version (preferably your terribly damaged vinyl single version of 1963), forget you ever learned any language at all, and simply imitate Jack Ely's vocals phonetically. You might end up sounding like this (eat your heart out Kurt Schwitters):
Looweeloowhy ono sadday we gowgow
yeh yeh yeh yeh yeh sadday looweeloowhy oh bebay sadday we gowgow

Speaking of Kurt Schwitters, maybe the solution is to introduce Conrad to this addictive bit of old-school typewriter animation, which has got to be way more entertaining than watching me mumble my way through the forgotten verses of his favorite song, doing my best impression of the grown-up characters in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
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