Jellyman Kelly

Album: In Harmony (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by James Taylor in the living room of his home in 1979. The music was inspired by a poem written by his five-year-old daughter, Sarah Maria Taylor, the artist better known as Sally Taylor.

    As James sat down in the living room of his house with his guitar, In walked little Sally with a poem she'd written while in school one day. The teacher had asked students to write poems about their favorite cartoon characters. Sally decided to write a poem about a cheerful, bouncy little clown-like character whose name was Jellyman Kelly. Jellyman Kelly is a sunny, funny, bouncy little man whose favorite thing in the world is the one and only, Jelly! His partner is Jenny Mulhenny, the daughter of a fireman, whose favorite thing to do is boil hot water.

    When she was finished writing, Sally came home and sat down on the sofa with James, and read her poem to him. After she was finished reciting her poem, James exclaimed, "Sally Taylor! That's a very interesting poem! We ought to put those words to music!" Within a half an hour, James composed a cheerful, bouncy little guitar melody for the song.
  • This song was used on the 1980 "In Harmony" special of Sesame Street, where James Taylor, his brother Livingston, sister Kate, daughter Sally, wife Carly Simon, and her sister Lucy, along with several other artists, were invited to perform many songs for children. Songs from the special were released on an album called In harmony. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Annabelle - Eugene, OR, for above 2

Comments: 3

  • David from Plattsmouth, NePart of the irony with this song is the way it plays against one of his other songs, "Machine Gun Kelly".
  • Michael from El Paso, Tx, MoIf any one knows where I can get the sheet music (Tuba and Guitar) for this please, please, please let me know, My daughter and i would love to be able to perform this song! It is a great, great song!
  • Claire from Oak Ridge, TnThis is my little sister's favorite song. I have to hear it at least twice every day on the way to camp lately.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Gray

David GraySongwriter Interviews

David Gray explains the significance of the word "Babylon," and talks about how songs are a form of active imagination, with lyrics that reveal what's inside us.

Roger McGuinn of The Byrds

Roger McGuinn of The ByrdsSongwriter Interviews

Roger reveals the songwriting formula Clive Davis told him, and if "Eight Miles High" is really about drugs.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde of The PretendersSongwriter Interviews

The rock revolutionist on songwriting, quitting smoking, and what she thinks of Rush Limbaugh using her song.

Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson

Supertramp founder Roger HodgsonSongwriter Interviews

Roger tells the stories behind some of his biggest hits, including "Give a Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song."