Steve Eighinger

We've come a long way since 'Wake Up Little Susie'

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 11, 2019 12:01 am

Remember when you were younger and would snicker when certain songs would come on the radio?

For my age bracket, one of those was "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen, which always comes to mind because of certain words that were always rumored to have been slurred into the lyrics. To this day, I don't know if that is actually true or not. (In the early 1960s, there was even an FBI investigation into "Louie, Louie" lyrics, which proved inconclusive.)

Through the years of pop music, there have repeatedly been offerings known for their vulgarity, sexual innuendo and double entendres. Most of those never make it to the airwaves. Various ruling bodies banned them before some rebel disc jockey would make an attempt to get them on the air.

But there have also been dozens of songs that were once barred from our listening ears for bizarre reasons, including the following:

"Rumble," by Link Wray and his Ray Men: This song was banned because of its title alone. "Rumble" was an instrumental that did not even have lyrics, but after its release in 1958, several U.S. radio markets banned the song because the word "rumble" was a popular slang term for a gang fight. The song eventually proved itself a classic and has been featured in several hit films, including "Pulp Fiction" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."

"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," by the Shirelles: The first No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 by a black female musical group was released in 1960. The song was about the day after a couple's intimate meeting. "Considering the times, the lyrics were seen as salacious ... yet still managed to sell over 1 million copies," reports

"Light My Fire," by the Doors: The Doors were blacklisted from The Ed Sullivan Show after their September 1967 performance of this well-known hit. The group failed to change the line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" – which seemed to be referencing drug use – to "Girl, we couldn't get much better." Lead singer Jim Morrison had initially agreed to the censorship but could not resist presenting his work in its true form during the live performance.

"Walk Like an Egyptian," by the Bangles: This 1986 song was banned by numerous outlets to avoid offending those who would relate this song and its references to Egypt and the conflicts in the Middle East.

"Wake Up Little Susie," by the Everly Brothers: This highly popular 1957 hit showed how easy it was in the 1950s to have a song banned. It was No. 1 on the charts, yet some radio stations still didn't play it because the lyrics "raised a serious question, leaving us to wonder what were those kids up to before they fell asleep?"

Arguably the most interesting ban of a song involved one of the all-time Christmas favorites. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," by Jimmy Boyd: Boyd was just 13 when he recorded this holiday hit. But his song was temporarily banned from radio, even though it was about a boy who wakes up to see mom and dad (in a Santa costume) kissing under the mistletoe. The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston blasted the song for suggestive language, feeling it linked Christmas to sex. Boyd went to meet with church leaders to explain his thinking behind the song and the Archdiocese reconsidered and pulled the ban.