“Louie Louie” is still creating controversy, almost 50 years after Richard Berry wrote it and 42 years after the Kingsmen recorded their mumbled version of it.
Paula Dawning, the superintendent of schools in Benton Harbor, Michigan, wouldn’t let the McCord Middle School marching band play the rock classic in a town parade this weekend after one parent — one parent — complained that it was inappropriate because of its lyrics.
It’s been over a quarter-century since the FBI — after wasting two years and untold taxpayer dollars — determined that not only was “Louie Louie” not obscene, it was “unintelligible at any speed.” It has since become a staple of rock radio and a favorite of marching bands across the country (so, this one time at band camp, we played a song that was featured in “Animal House” and “The Naked Gun”), including a version by the Rice University Marching Owl Band on this compilation.
All this superintendent of schools had to do was a quick Google search to discover that there’s no problem with the song, especially since the marching band wouldn’t be singing it! Or better yet, she could have told this one tightass parent to stick her complaint in a marching band tuba. Instead, her response was that if a majority of band parents supported their kids playing the song, she would reconsider.
Thankfully, the more enlightened parents stepped up — or maybe one of them printed out the real lyrics and showed them to her — and Ms. Dawning reversed herself late Thursday.
That marching band, they gotta go now.