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"Louie Louie" 
original released April 1957

Grand-Slam Unicorns 

listen to Sarah Hill talk about her book here

Richard Berry recorded "Louie Louie" in 1957, but it took the Kingsmen's wayward version in 1963 to plunge listeners into a giant riddle with unlikely ripple effects. Sarah Hill's new book, One-Hit Wonders, devotes a chapter to the song by Samuel Murray, who describes how a Portland jukebox sprouted its own FBI file and parents played Madlibs with the song's lyrics. In her introduction, HIll describes how these songs open new vantages on rock history...

...IN THINKING ABOUT EACH SONG'S TIME AND PLACE, most of the contributors to this collection also ruminate on their song’s afterlife. Not every song included here has a dance attached to it, nor has every song been tied in to television advertisements or movie franchises, but each has a story that takes it beyond a sterile Billboard number. Often that story is just about how the song hit the charts in the first place. This is not to suggest snobbery or value judgment, but rather to note that it is worth thinking a little bit about why some songs gain universal traction without any warning or precedent, and about how those songs impact the lives and careers of the musicians behind them.  

The songs included here might not make your ideal mixtape, but our goal is to get you to go back and listen to them again with fresh ears.

...And while the first chapter in this collection does focus on a novelty song, it also establishes a pre-history of the music industry that should be familiar to anyone who has ever heard a song built on pre-existing samples. What you get in the subsequent chapters is a snapshot of popular music songwriting and marketing, of audiences and the vagaries of taste. Not every song in this collection came out of Anglo-America, and not every song was originally sung in English, but each one poses questions about cultural centers and peripheries, about timeliness and timelessness, in an oblique history of popular music... [from Sarah Hill's introduction]

keep reading One-Hit Wonders, Edited by Sarah Hill

and Jesus wept...

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"I'm not claiming that 'Louie Louie' is a mystery without a solution. On the contrary, the solution stares us all in the face every time we hear the song..." Dave Marsh 

keep going
Louie Louie custom playlist, including Richard Berry's original, the Kingsmen, the Pretenders, the Sonics, Julie London, and Iggy Pop
Have "Louie," Will Travel, Richard Berry. Ace, 2004
Greatest Hits, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Sony, 1967

The Best of Louie Louie, Various. Rhino, 1983 (Richard Foos, compiler)

Fever: How Rock Transforms Gender
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coming soon
Playing with Fire: the Story of Maria Yudina, Pianist in Stalin's Russia, by Elizabeth Nelson (Yale)

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: words, words, words


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