'Louie Louie' for official Oregon state song
With the recent passing of Oregon’s own Jack Ely, it is time to once again renew the campaign to adopt "Louie Louie" as the official Oregon State Rock Song.
The news a few weeks back of The Kingsmen’s lead singer passing away reminded me of when a grassroots movement was hot on the trail to make this happen. When the momentum died down in Oregon, another group from our snobby big brother to the north emerged. Clearly, if we don’t fast track this through Salem, those Husky-loving Washingtonian’s will swoop in to reclaim Louie as their own creation and dance and sing their way into all state gatherings and assemblies.
Blasphemy, I say.
What says “Keep Portland Weird” more than an incoherent party anthem that was obviously sung after drinking a case of Blitz-Weinhard beer, and belting random words into a used All Transistor Mayfair Tape Recorder?! (which explains the $36 recording budget — $32 for the recorder and $4 for the Blitz beer)
It is true that The Kingsmen were not the first to record the song (or write it for that matter), but without the proper blend of the yearning for a Jamaican sweetheart, a Fender guitar, poor orthodontics and some Oregon magic, Richard Berry’s song would just be another anonymous flip side for about a million 45 rpm recordings.
Ely and The Kingsmen gave the song wings.
Are we willing to let slide the opportunity to relish Oregon’s contribution to the investigation launched by the FBI that eventually led to a 455-page document to determine that the obscene slur-yrics were deemed unintelligible at any speed? I can’t imagine the FBI had anything more important to worry about in 1965.
I can see the late-night meetings in the Oval Office, LBJ pounding desks and knowing the Ruskies were behind this, damn it! Had Alan Turing still been alive he surely would have been brought in for cryptanalysis and deciphering of The Kingsmen code. He would have obviously failed, of course, because no one to this day can decipher the lyrics.
I hope everyone understands this is an issue of grave magnitude. We are at a crossroads. We can continue to take this laissez-faire attitude toward what rightfully belongs to the State of Oregon, or we can take action now. I, for one, am tired of walking down the street hearing the constant humming of “Oregon, My Oregon,” and I am sure you can’t get THAT tune out of your head either.
So, put your microbrew down, write your congressman, send those letters to the Tribune, and let’s get this done. C’mon everyone, sing with me now, "Nlooee LOO-I-OHHH, Baby Nwegottago, YA YAH … YAH YAH Yah ...
A.J. Klott lives in Jacksonville.