Politics and LOUIE LOUIE

Bloom County LOUIE LOUIE cartoon © Burke Breathed / Washington Post

I think I did pretty good this year.

Four years ago, I ran into some problems when I shared some of my political beliefs on this website, which probably wasn’t the best idea of mine, as I try to focus on a more universal appeal with this project. I’ve got friends on all ends of the political spectrum, which for the most part is wonderful, but folks do tend to get extremely passionate about their beliefs, which leads to some very spirited discussions. I think I did OK in resisting temptations to broadcast my personal political views on this website.

I’d like to think LOUIE LOUIE is a universal icon whose appreciation transcends the divisive nature of politics, but sometimes even LOUIE LOUIE is used as a political tool.

In 1964, Governor Matthew E. Welsh of Indiana took offense to the Kingsmen‘s version of LOUIE LOUIE, and urged Reid Chapman, radio/TV personality and President of the Indiana Broadcasters Association, to take action on this controversial song. After Reid Chapman sent out telegrams to Indiana radio stations, there were reports that the Governor was imposing censorship within the state of Indiana.

In 1985, thanks to the efforts of comedian Ross Shafer, the staff of KING TV, state Senator Al Williams and a substantial grassroots political movement, the state of Washington came very close to transforming LOUIE LOUIE into the official state song. During this campaign, Ned Neltner of Junior Cadillac was able to enlist songwriter Richard Berry in re-writing the lyrics for a very rendition of the song created specifically for the cause.

1n 1988, Berke Breathed created a funny Bloom County cartoon for the Sunday funny papers, imagining how Presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, Mike Dukakis and Bill the Cat would sing LOUIE LOUIE if such a musical showcase were to take place. (Click on the graphic above to see a higher-resolution image)

The link between LOUIE LOUIE and politics continues in the 21st Century.

During the recent elections of this year, Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington came out in full support of LOUIE LOUIE. I discovered a YouTube clip that not only demonstrates her appreciation of the song, but also a special version of the song created by Bill Hanson and Tom Pillow to support her candidacy.

Not surprisingly, Governor Chris Gregoire won re-election in November. The power of a catchy campaign song cannot be underestimated.

A few months ago, former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a presidential candidate, did a performance of LOUIE LOUIE his band Capitol Offense, which I mentioned back in September.

Another former governor from Arkansas, former President Bill Clinton has also performed LOUIE LOUIE in a public venue. During the last months of his presidency, he embarked on a “farewell tour” at the end of 2000, which included a visit to Dover High School at Dover, New Hampshire. While President Clinton was at this venue, some of the members of the school marching band talked him into playing saxophone with them, and the ONE song they performed was LOUIE LOUIE.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been told that the Kingsmen performed at Bill Clinton’s high school prom night.

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