Has there ever been a more popular song that few people really understood the words to? In fact, the lyrics for “Louie Louie” by the Kingsman are so hard to understand that FBI launched a TWO YEAR investigation into whether the lyrics were obscene or not. On May 17, 1965–more than two years after the song was released–the investigation ends and can was summed up this way:
Responding to complaints that the lyrics are obscene, The FBI does a thorough investigation, resulting in a 118-page report that is both confounding and wildly amusing. One letter of complaint reads: “We all know there is obscene materials available for those who seek it, but when they start sneaking in this material in the guise of the latest ‘teen age rock & roll hit record,’ these morons have gone too far. This land of ours is headed for an extreme state of moral degradation what with this record.”
The song is sent to the “laboratory,” where apparently it is dissected in an attempt to identify the lyrics – no easy task considering it is both distorted and mumbled.
At some point, the FBI figures out that someone made up a dirty version of the lyrics which was distributed in various cities, sparking a rumor that these were the actual words.The investigation spans several states, as transporting obscene material across state lines is an even more serious offense. In every state where an investigation takes place, they reach the same conclusion. The Detroit office writes: “The recording was hurriedly produced and the technique was poor but the record definitely was not obscene.”
So, no obscenities or even good double-entendres, just mumbled lyrics and poor recording equipment. Rock and Roll! Just so you can see for yourself, here’s a recording of the song with the ACTUAL lyrics so you can sing along, if you’d like!