Louie, Louie   Leave a comment

In the 1980’s, a three chord song called Louie, Louie was being considered by Washington State officials, to become the state song. This would have replaced the current traditional song, “Washington, My Home”. Of course, the latter seems more appropriate as a state song, but even to be considered, says something about Louie, Louie.

Louie, Louie was written in 1955, by Doo Wop musician, Richard Berry.

   Berry was living in Los Angeles at the time and playing in a Mexican band called Ricky Rivera and the Rhythm Rockers. He was inspired by the rhythm of a song, he and his band were currently playing called “El Loco Cha Cha Cha”. While he was performing at a club called the Harmony Ball Room, one night, the lyrics for Louie, Louie, just popped into his head. The song is sung from the point of a customer, talking to a bartender, telling him how he intended to sail to Jamaica to find his true love. When you listen to the song, you’ll hear the Jamaican pronunciation of the lyrics.

In 1957, Berry released the first version of it, with his band The Pharaohs.

Louie Louie – The Pharaohs

The rumor that followed Louie, Louie around for years, was that the lyrics were obscene. This prompted J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to investigate the lyrics and it turned into a 31 month ordeal, which is hard for us to even imagine in 2012, given the lyrics on the radio today. Listening to Louie, Louie with the lyrics in front of me, I can assure you they aren’t obscene, but at least the rumor did manage to help bump up record sales.

The Pharaohs version of the song sold about 130,000 copies, but after about a year, the sales tapered off and Berry sold the rights, to earn some extra cash.

Berry’s version was not the one that made the song a hit, but we’ll get to that soon.

Approximately five years later, a Seattle, Washington musician named “Rockin” Robin Roberts discovered the song while digging through the bargain bin of a local thrift shop. At that time he had joined a local band called The Wailers (named the Wailers, long before Bob Marley came along). The Wailers recorded the song on The Etiquette record label. This version had the amazing Kent Morrill singing the lead.

Louie Louie – The Wailers

  Kent Morrill (second from the right) passed away in 2011 and there was a tribute for him at The Temple Theatre in Tacoma, Washington. I took part in playing with the band, to honor his life. It was an all-star (local all-stars) event with members from the bands, The Kingsmen, The Wailers, The Sonics and City Zu.

Louie Louie – Tribute to Kent Morrill of The Wailers

Note: I’m the girl playing guitar, in the shiny silver top, standing behind the sax players.

Now we get to the actual popular version of the song, that made Louie, Louie a hit. It was practically an exact replica of The Wailers version, only it was released by a Portland, Oregon band called “The Kingsmen”. The Kingsmen probably heard the Wailers performing it at one of their Oregon gigs.

Here’s a great interview with the lead singer of Louie, Louie, Jack Ely that sheds light from behind the scenes. It explains the entire FBI investigation and other interesting facts about the song. One of the most shocking things Ely states is that he only made $129.62 (to date) for his lead vocal on that song. Unbelievable!

Louie Louie – The Kingmen

Louie, Louie has become an anthem for people of the Northwest and inspired the LouieFest event (1000 guitars playing Louie, Louie, all at once) that takes place every year, to raise money for the Wailers Performing Arts Foundation. Wailers Foundation

Here is a brief (amateur) clip of Louiefest 2007. Kent Morrill from the Wailers is singing lead.

LouieFest 2007

(Once again I’m playing guitar, standing behind the sax players. The sax player in the black t-shirt, is my singing partner.)

Louie, Louie has been labeled the most recognizable rock & roll song of all time and has been performed by the likes of Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, Barry White, Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Blondie, and the Kinks, to name just a few.

Here are the lyrics to Louie Louie, so you can sing-a-long:

Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Me fine little girl she waits for me
Me catch a ship across the sea
Me sail the ship by me all alone
Never see how I make it home
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl constantly
Upon the ship I know she there
I smell the rose up in her hair
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Me see Jamaica, the moon above
Won’t be long me see me love
Take her in my arms and then
Tell her I never leave again
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Louie Louie
Oh no, me gotta go
We gotta go now
I said, We gotta go now
Let’s hustle on outta here
Let’s go!


Evening Magazine (July 25, 2012)
Behind The Hits – Bob Shannon & John Javna
You Tube

Posted November 17, 2012 by zugirl in Uncategorized

The Long and Winding Road   4 comments

I can remember the precise moment I become a Beatle fan. It was in the late 1970’s, while I was attending high school. I was never one of those that could handle waking up to the traditional loud, buzzing alarm clock in the morning, so I always set my alarm to wake me with music. That particular morning, the minute the alarm went off, in started the very first note out of Paul McCartney’s mouth:

“T h e   l o n g   a n d   w i n d i n g   r o a d   t h a t   l e a d s   t o   y o u r   d o o r . . . “

That very day after school, I headed down to a record store (ironically named Penny Lane Records) and bought my first Beatles album; The Blue Album, 1967-1970. It was a greatest hits compilation, of sorts, and all that mattered was that it had The Long and Winding Road on it.

This was the beginning of my long relationship with the Beatles.

At that point in my life, I was already considering a career in music, so my newfound fan-ship with the Beatles pushed me towards that goal and set a course in my life.

All Beatle songs written by either Paul McCartney or John Lennon, were always credited to Lennon/McCartney. The Long and Winding Road was truly and completely a McCartney composition. Also, it’s one of the few Beatle hits not produced by their regular producer, Sir George Martin.

Sir George Martin and I, Air Studios, London, 2002

The Long and Winding Road was actually produced by “wall of sound” producer, Phil Spector. George Martin did produce the original song, however it was re-produced by Phil Spector, or as George Martin puts it, “over-produced”.  This was a result of a John Lennon whim (to use Phil Spector). Paul McCartney hated the final version of the song, as he didn’t like having female voices on any Beatle songs and the over the top orchestration, was not for his taste. This was all taking place right before the Beatles broke up, so this tug-of-war with producers only added fuel to the Lennon/McCartney fire.

The letter below is from the “Anthology” book. It was addressed to Allen Klein at Apple Corps Limited and dated April 14, 1970.

Dear Sir,
In future no one will be allowed to add to or subtract from a recording of one of my songs without my permission.
I had considered orchestrating The Long And Winding Road but I had decided against it. I therefore want it altered to these specifications:
1. Strings, horns, voices and all added noises to be reduced in volume.
2. Vocal and Beatle instrumentation to be brought up in volume.
3. Harp to be removed completely at the end of the song and original piano notes to be substituted.
4. Don’t ever do it again.
Paul McCartney
c.c. Phil Spector, 
John Eastman

A rough take of this song was recorded during the White Album sessions, which took place in 1968, two years before The Long and Winding Road landed on the Let It Be LP.

The actual long and winding road itself, that Paul McCartney is referring to, is literally the B842, which runs from Kintyre, Scotland to Campbeltown, where McCartney had a farm and lived with his family.

When Paul McCartney wrote the tune, he had Ray Charles in mind, to sing it. The song was offered to Tom Jones in 1968, though Tom turned it down, being involved in his own project at the time.

The actual story behind the song, in Paul McCartney’s own words is; “I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.”

Here is a link to the song, with lyrics:

The Long and Winding Road

There was a different version of the song, in the Beatles film, Let It Be. It’s a more simplified version of the song and, as you will hear, quite different from the Phil Spector produced Let It Be release:

Original version of The Long and Winding Road

My relationship with the Beatles has continued to this day and through the twists and turns of life, resulted in (somehow) this collection of memorabilia…

My Insane Beatle’s Collection (360 panorama)

…..all of this because of The Long and Winding Road.


Wikimedia Commons
The Beatles Recording Sessions (Mark Lewisohn)
Song Facts
Beatles Anthology
Many Years From Now (Barry Miles)

Posted November 4, 2012 by zugirl in Uncategorized

The Story In Your Eyes   1 comment

Every now and then while I’m driving in my car, I’ll listen to one singular song, over and over again. This might last a day, or a week, depending on how much I like the song or if I tire of it. Sometimes my song repeat can last longer than the normal one week run. That was the case with the following song.

“The Story In Your Eyes”, by the Moody Blues.

The Moody Blues formed their band in 1964, in Birmingham, England. Over a span of four decades, they’ve sold a total of 55+ million albums. That is an impressive amount of vinyl and CD sales!

The Moody Blues are sometimes labeled an “orchestral rock” band, due to their heavily orchestrated production. Personally, I’ve always been amused that the Moody Blues never featured their own faces on the front covers of their record albums, although that probably could have boosted sales even more! This, along with their unique sound, set the band apart and they are one of the few 1960’s bands that are still touring and selling out concerts, today.

The Story In Your Eyes was released in 1971 and is probably the most rockin tune to ever come from the Moody Blues. They are better known for their mellower, arty and intricately produced songs like, “Nights In White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon”. Fabulous songs, I might add.

The song itself features a Mellotron, which was a type of pre-synth keyboard that could produce the orchestral sounds you hear on their early albums. The Mellotron was part of their signature sound and helped give the Moody Blues that full, lush, orchestrated sound.

The Story In Your Eyes starts off with a simple, but ever so catchy guitar lick, played by Justin Hayward, the bands lead and rhythm guitar player. Justin wrote the song at the age of 24, right around the age I discovered it, myself. The lyrics seem to be years ahead of the composer’s 24 years of age.

It’s been a challenge to find any actual documented meaning behind this song, as though it’s been dodged and hushed, for whatever reason. It only leaves the world to speculate, what the true intended meaning of the song really is. Some believe it’s just the common Moody Blues message “try and build a better world”.

Well, it’s obvious to me that in “The Story In Your Eyes” Justin Hayward was singing about a love affair with a woman and that one, or both parties involved, were married.  From the lyrical content, it sounds as though they dated at one point, moved onto other chapters of their lives and ended up coming back together, again.

But I’m frightened for your children
and the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we’ve been waiting for
Will turn to rain

Of course, that doesn’t mean the songwriter wrote it from his own personal point of view, or that is has any truth to it, but Justin has admitted in several interviews that he’s tapped into his own life experiences, for his songwriting inspirations.

Here is the original 1971 version of The Story In Your Eyes, with the lyrics:

The Story In Your Eyes


Now you know the story behind the song!



Reference notes:
John McFerrin Music
Music News

Posted October 20, 2012 by zugirl in Uncategorized

Layla   1 comment

What’ll you do when you get lonely?

The opening line to a song with, perhaps, one of the best known guitar riffs in Rock & Roll history.

The song Layla was written by Eric “Slowhand” Clapton, during his early 70’s Derek & The Dominoes era. Eric’s bandmate, Jim Gordon co-wrote the tune and it has become a rock anthem, in the 40 years since it’s inception.

The actual song title Layla comes from 12th century classic Arabic literature. Later on, a Persian poet named Nizami Ganjavi rewrote the story, naming it The Story Of Layla and Majnun. The original story was something that struck a chord with Clapton (if you’ll pardon the pun) and the events going on in his life, at that time. He identified with the character Majnun, who was in love with Layla bint Mahdi idn Sa’d. Let’s be glad that Eric shortened the name, for the sake of his song. Here is a link to a version of Layla and Majnun: http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/V/V_23.htm

The versions of the story behind this song vary, but they all point to one person:

That person is Pattie Boyd. Wife of the Quiet Beatle, George Harrison. The lucky girl who had not only one exquisite song written for her, but a couple other huge hits, as well: “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton and “Something” by The Beatles.

Who does that happen to, in one lifetime? Three songs?…and one performed by The Beatles?

We were first introduced to Pattie Boyd in the 1964 Beatles movie, “A Hard Days Night”, where she was cast as a schoolgirl fan. There she met her husband to be, George Harrison, whom she married in early 1966. George and Eric Clapton were close friends and through Eric’s exposure to Pattie, he started falling in love with her, even though she was married to his very close friend George, at the time.

Pattie Boyd’s version of the story is that one day, after Eric had been trying to persuade her to leave George and come with him, Eric played her a taped version of Layla. Later that same night at a party, Eric blurted out to George Harrison that he was in love with his wife. Ouch!

Eric says that initially he wrote this song as a ballad, for Pattie. It was his attempt to persuade her to stop “holding off” and move in with him. Ironically, Eric was living with Pattie’s younger sister, Paula, at the time. When Paula heard the song Layla, she immediately moved out and felt that Eric had used her, to get to her sister, Pattie.

Such drama!

Eric’s wishes came true on March 27, 1979 when Pattie finally gave into Eric and married him.

Unfortunately, their relationship didn’t live happily ever after. After a tumultuous five years, Pattie Boyd left Eric Clapton in 1984.

Although Pattie and Eric’s marriage didn’t last, we are happy it attributed to bringing Layla into our lives.

Layla – original version with lyrics

Now you know the story behind the song.

Reference Notes: 
Pattie Boyd – Wonderful Tonight
Eric Clapton – The Autobiography

Posted October 11, 2012 by zugirl in Uncategorized

What inspired them to write that song?   Leave a comment

What better way to tell a story, than to put a melody to it and wrap it up in a neat little package, for purchase or download?

Songwriters are storytellers. Think Lennon/McCartney, Paul Williams, Bob Dylan, Bacharach/Blaine or Brian Wilson and so many others. Songwriters have their stories told when you turn on your radio, watch a movie, shop for groceries and even have your teeth drilled on.

Songs are stories, put to music.

There are millions of songs out there and every song has a story behind it, weather it came to the songwriter in a dream or they sat down and spent hours, days or even years looking for the right words to convey and share their messages of love and loss.

I’ve always had an interest in the stories and trivia, behind the songs. Why was it written? Who was it written for?

In this blog we’re going to explore the stories behind the songs of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The songs I grew up with and love!

All my favorites, starting with……

Posted September 28, 2012 by zugirl in Uncategorized