Key Largo

Album: Just Another Day In Paradise (1981)
Charted: 60 8

Songfacts®:

  • Key Largo is an island off the coast of Florida that was the setting for the 1948 movie of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who were married in real life and one of the most glamorous couples in Hollywood. Bertie Higgins grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida and spent a lot of time in the Florida keys. He based this song on the movie, with a failed romance also serving as inspiration.

    In the book Behind The Hits, Higgins said: "I lived with a girl a long time in Florida. Here name was Beverly Seaberg. We used to watch old movies on the weekends, and to us, the Bogart and Bacall romance was a phenomenal one: because of their age difference - she was 20 and he was 45 - and because the world was clamoring constanly for them to make a relationship work in Hollywood. Bev left me, and I hurt for about two years. Finally, I said, 'Well, I've got to reach her somehow.' And the only equipment I had to reach her with was a song. So I wrote the song 'Key Largo.' It was a plea for her return. And she did We became engaged."

    The couple got married a year after the song was released, but split in 1995. They had two children, Aaron and Julian.
  • This was the only hit for the singer/songwriter Higgins, who started his career in the early '60s as the drummer in Tommy Roe's backup band, The Roemans. He was living in Atlanta and playing in clubs when he wrote "Key Largo." The song was released as a single in 1981 on Kat Family Records, a CBS imprint that existed for just a short time in the '80s (their biggest act: Major Lance). Higgins' debut album, Just Another Day In Paradise, was released the next year and included another movie-themed song in "Casablanca." The album's title track provided Higgins' only other Hot 100 hit: it went to #46 about two months after "Key Largo" peaked on the charts. In 1983 his song "When You Fall In Love (Like I Fell In Love With You)" from his second album Pirates And Poets reached #34 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

    Higgins carved out a niche in the "trop rock" genre with island songs in the Jimmy Buffett vein, but never again reached the charts, leaving him a one-hit wonder. He had some run-ins with the law, and in 1997 served 80 days in jail for a DUI arrest, but has released a steady stream of albums.
  • Higgins wrote this song with his producer, Sonny Limbo, who suggested incorporating the Bogart line, "Here's looking at you, kid," into the lyric.
  • This wasn't the only hit from 1981 based on movie stars: Kim Carnes hit #1 in the US with "Bette Davis Eyes" the same year.
  • "Key Largo" was a #1 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Comments: 12

  • Brandon from Elsinore, UtI came upon this killer web-site because I was trying to find any kind of comment from Lauren Bacall and what she might have thought of the song. I am reading her bioraphy now maybe she will mention it, RIP Bogie n Bacall Hollywood's all time greatest couple.
  • AnonymousWho is the female singing with Bertie?
  • Brent from WisconsinBill, I remember when this was out and on American Top 40. If I'm not mistaken, I remember Casey Kasem saying the backing female vocals were done by, get this, Cheryl Ladd?!? from Charlie's Angels! And she did have a small Top 40 hit by herself in 1978, so she does sing.
  • Bill from UsSo who sings the back up? The lady?, I always loved her addition.
  • Jack from Robertstown, AustraliaWhat a wild and whacky film clip. My personal favourite is the way he sucks on the dart at the start. Then there is the really creepy way he puts his hand on the chick while he is singing "You were my leading La-ady". Next is the multiple shirt changes, and finally someone should have told Bertie that "sailing away" to Key Largo doesn't usually involve driving a 350 HP outboard motor, flat out, on a jet boat!
  • B.l. from Barry, TxHiggins followed "Key Largo" with "Casablanca" which I heard once. It was definitely no "Key Largo." Higgins also sang the theme to the sitcom "Bosom Buddies," which was a version of Billy Joel's "My Life."
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI love this song,too.
  • Thelma from Deerfield, NhWhen i was in my twenties, i had a beau, who said that was our song. Well i'm 68 years old, and it always gives me a thrill to remember, when i hear this song. Hearing it again makes me young again.
  • Jd from East Bay, RiVery romantic...I LOVE it!
  • Susan from Westchestertonfieldville, Va" we had it all!just like Bogie and Bacall"

    .......who does not get that line stuck in their head??????
  • Greg from Shelbyville, KyThere are quotes from several Bogie films: 'Here's Looking at you kid" from Casablanca; "Play it again" is also from Casablanca. The point of the song is not to recreate the movie Key Largo, but to recreate the feelings that the singer had on evenings during "That first cold winter together", as they were "Trying so hard to stay warm". They spent those evenings "Watching those old movies", and began to feel a lot in comon with the characters in them. The verses detail what they had, with the second part of the chorus "Here's looking at you..." being the call for action. Let's "find it once again",an emotion that many couples, either split up, or still together can identify with.
  • Guy from Woodinville, Wa"Here's lookin' at you kid" is not Bogie and Bacall in Key largo. It's Bogie and Ingrid Bergman in Casblanca. Fun song, but that's always bothered me. And, despite Bogie and Bacall's love of sailing in real life, they never "sailed away to Key Largo." They drove there.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.

Little RichardFact or Fiction

Was Long Tall Sally a cross-dresser? Did he really set his piano on fire? See if you know the real stories about one of rock's greatest innovators.