I was astonished to learn today that the lyrics to the 1960s hit “Louie Louie” are not obscene, as we speculated endlessly as teenagers. (See “What are the REAL lyrics to ‘Louie Louie’?” on The Straight Dope.)
According to The Wacky Top 40, by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo, The Kingsmen, who recorded the song in 1963, were surprised to learn that people thought they heard obscene lyrics when listening to the song. The group’s drummer is quoted as saying, “At one time we saw 35 different copies of the lyrics and they were all completely different, depending on what part of the country you were from.”
He says the lyrics were so hard to understand because the lead singer was too far away from the microphone in the recording studio.
According to The Straight Dope, the author of the song, Richard Berry, told an interviewer that the song is meant to be “the lament of a seafaring man, spoken to a sympathetic bartender named Louie.”
It’s a beautiful, touching song. Here are the actual lyrics, as given in the Dr. Demento lyrics database:
by Richard Berry
Oh no, me gotta go.
Oh baby, me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she wait for me,
Me catch the ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone,
I never think how I’ll make it home.
Oh no, no, no, me gotta go, oh no
Oh baby, me gotta go.
Three nights and days I sailed the sea.
Me think of girl constantly.
On the ship I dream she there.
I smell the rose in her hair.
Oh no, me gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh baby me gotta go.
(Okay, let’s give it to ’em right now!)
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’ll never leave again.
Oh no, me gotta go
Oh baby, me gotta go.
I said we gotta go,
Let’s get on outta here.
AB — 7 May 2010
As someone who, in 1965 at the age of 14, wrote an indignant letter to a Raleigh TV station when The Outer Limits got cancelled, I really appreciated the entry on Boing Boing today by guest blogger Craig Engler of Syfy — see “How to REALLY save your favorite sci-fi show from cancellation.”
One thing I learned from this insider’s perspective on advocating for your dying precious is that writing a letter (or an email) these days will have no more effect than it did in 1965 — and probably even less.
Engler says that even a few thousand written pleas are nothing:
[T]oday EVERY canceled show has a write-in campaign, often accompanied by some clever item… Jericho fans sent peanuts, Lexx fans sent dragonflies, etc. It’s so pervasive that it’s become background noise. People even start write-in campaigns if we change a show’s timeslot, or if an actor leaves a show.
Letter campaigns just won’t make a difference, he says. Interestingly, according to Engler, today’s media environment offers a way to campaign for keeping a show alive — and social media can play a role:
If a show isn’t successful with 900,000 viewers, it’s not going to start working with 950,000 viewers. It’s going to take a few hundred thousand new viewers to make an impact.
The way to do that is to go big. Instead of talking to us, talk to the critics and TV bloggers out there who have the most readers and try to get THEM to talk about the show. Do something so unique that your “save the show” campaign gets covered on the homepage of CNN. Find a way to get Jon Stewart to joke about your campaign on his show. Use tools out there like Twitter and Facebook that let you reach people on a mass scale. If you’re sending letters to the network, send them to your friends too. And send them to your friends’ friends.
But all this has to be done quickly, Engler cautions, because once a show’s cancellation is announced, entropy has already set in — actors and crew get fired, sets get struck.
What really works, Engler thinks, is to be a real fan of the show and advocate for it before trouble starts:
“Save our show” campaigns rarely work in reality, so ideally you don’t want to let it get to that point. You want to get in early with “pre-save” campaigns, because once a show is perceived as needing to be saved, viewers become a lot more reluctant to tune in. The best “save the show” campaign I’ve seen is the one you don’t have to use.
AB — 6 May 2010
For those of us who love circuit diagrams, here’s one from stick-figure cartoonist xkcd (click on this image to see the original and larger version):
AB — 21 April 2010
I was happy to find a YouTube version of this Kodak ad from about 1963. I’m not sure why a 12-year-old would understand how it feels to watch your children grow up, but I remember I used to cry watching this ad.
I would have to say this is good advertising — makes a strong emotional connection with the viewer and an excellent tie-in to the product. Until today, I hadn’t seen this ad for over 40 years, but I still remembered that it was for Kodak.
AB — 7 April 2010
Since I started using TiVo a few years ago, I’ve been impressed time and again by the extent to which the digital video recorder (DVR) changes the experience of television — it can open up the “long tail” of TV in amazing ways (see Chris Anderson’s 2006 Wired article, “The Long Tail,” for an explanation of what that means).
For me, the latest example is VH1’s occasional show, “Classic in Concert,” which I never would have learned about had it not been for my practice every so often of reviewing all upcoming shows in TiVo’s alphabetical list.
“Classic in Concert” televises videos of live concerts, some recent, some quite old. Many of them have no interest to me (KISS, ZZ Top) and can go right in the trash. But recently I did enjoy watching concerts by Blind Faith and Brian Wilson, which were well worth the viewing time.
Following are some notes on those concert videos. Unfortunately, “Classic in Concert” appears to have no web home, so there’s nothing great I can find to link to, other than some YouTube videos of doubtful provenance.
Blind Faith’s 1969 Hyde Park Concert
This was a fascinating archaeological treasure, a movie of what might have been the world’s first glimpse of the collaboration between Eric Clapton post-Cream and Steve Winwood post-Traffic (Winwood later returned to Traffic).
Blind Faith also included percussionist Ginger Baker and bassist Ric Grech. I was surprised to learn that Ginger Baker is still alive — guess he got away with it. Grech died in 1990, according to his Wikipedia bio.
I’ve never paid a lot of attention to Steve Winwood, but the video has helped me put a face to the haunting voice in the recordings of Blind Faith and Traffic. I never realized what an enormous mouth he has, but he does well with it.
In the Hyde Park video, Clapton seems subdued and keeps to the background. That fits with what his Wikipedia bio says — apparently Clapton felt that the concert was premature and that Blind Faith hadn’t practiced enough:
[Clapton] thought that the band’s playing was sub-par and that the adulation was undeserved and reminiscent of his Cream days when the crowds would applaud for nearly everything. Clapton, knowing the band had not rehearsed enough and was unprepared, was reluctant to tour and feared that the band would develop into a Cream repeat.
The music is indeed pretty rough — you can tell the group was relatively unpracticed — and Winwood is often off-key. Even so, it’s fun to see.
Clapton has some great videos on his official web site, but nothing of Blind-Faith vintage. Here’s a YouTube video of “Can’t Find My Way Home” as performed at the Hyde Park concert.
Brian Wilson’s Live Redo of Pet Sounds
The other video I watched recently on “Classic in Concert” was a live performance (2003 in London, I believe) of music from the Beach Boys’ 1966 album Pet Sounds.
Now in his 60s, I think Wilson can be forgiven for being a little off-key and no longer able to hit the high notes. Heck, Stevie Winwood was even more off-key at Hyde Park when he was 21. It’s inherent in the live-concert venue — you’re never going to get the perfection of a studio recording.
The band Wilson uses in the concert does a good job of reproducing the classic Beach-Boys sound, although some of its members might have had great-grandparents in the audience.
In some brief interview comments at the end of the video, Wilson reflects on the Beach Boys’ competition with the Beatles during the late 1960s. He compares Pet Sounds to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — a dubious comparison, in my opinion. While it might be true that the two groups were in competition for raw popularity at the time, I would be hard-pressed to rank Wilson’s output with the innovative genius of the Lennon-McCartney collaboration.
Much as I enjoyed the video, I’m not wild about the Pet Sounds music. However, the concert does include beautiful versions of Wilson’s arrangement of the traditional “Sloop John B.” and his song “Good Vibrations” (which was from Smile rather than Pet Sounds). At the time it came out, I thought of “Good Vibrations” as just another me-too psychedelic release. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate it much more, and I now regard it as a masterwork and a great composition.
AB — 3 February 2010
Recently I discovered Wondermark, a comic strip remixed from old woodcuts and other art by artist David Malki. What makes Wondermark so entertaining is the juxtaposition of 19th-century artwork and 21st-century dialogue.
Wondermark comes out on Tuesday and Fridays. Today’s strip is a hilarious example (linked):
Malki describes his art sources:
Wondermark is created from 19th-Century woodcuts and engravings, scanned from my personal collection of old books and also from volumes in the Los Angeles Central Library. Most of the books are bound volumes of general-interest magazines such as Harper’s, Frank Leslie’s and Punch, but my collection also includes special-interest magazines such as Scientific American, Sears-Roebuck catalogs, storybooks, and primers.
AB — 26 January 2010