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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oregon Band Will March to a California Beat

An unusual marching band from Oregon will be part of Barack Obama's inaugural parade, but there's going to be something a little misleading about its

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 11:47 AM

An unusual marching band from Oregon will be part of Barack Obama's inaugural parade, but there's going to be something a little misleading about its musical repertoire.

According to a story by OPB, the Get a Life Marching Band from Portland has been invited to appear in the parade and was specifically asked by the inauguration committee to perform a song written in Oregon. The band's choice: "Louie Louie."

There's one small hitch, though: "Louie Louie" wasn't written in Oregon. It was written in (we shudder to mention it) California.

Richard Berry, a Louisiana native who grew up in LA, wrote the song in 1955 and recorded it in 1957 with a group called The Pharaohs. It was subsequently covered by countless bands, most famously (or notoriously) in 1963 by a Portland garage band calling themselves The Kingsmen.

Because of primitive recording equipment and the mumbling delivery of singer Jack Ely, the lyrics in The Kingsmen's version were unintelligible, which allowed the sexually repressed teenagers of the mid-1960s to imagine all sorts of deliciously obscene possibilities and propelled the song to Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. There was such a public outcry over the supposedly obscene (but actually innocuous) lyrics of "Louie Louie" that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI investigated this perceived threat to the morals of American youth.

Jack Ely still lives in Central Oregon (you can hear and watch him singing "Louie Louie" to a horse in this video), so "Louie Louie" has a long-standing and legitimate connection to the state.

But "written in Oregon"? Sorry, no way.

We're still 13 days away from Inauguration Day, so maybe the Get a Life Marching Band can come up with a bona fide written-in-Oregon song. Unfortunately, though, we can't think of one offhand. Any suggestions?

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