This popular novelty song from Nilsson finds a girl in tummy trouble after drinking a concoction of lime and coconut. She calls her exasperated doctor in the middle of the night, who suggests she take a little of the hair of the dog that bit her:
Put the lime in the coconut, you such a silly woman
Put a lime in the coconut and drink 'em both together
Put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better
Put the lime in the coconut, drink 'em both down
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning
Harry Nilsson was going to sing the song straight through with his regular voice, but producer Richard Perry encouraged him to add contrasting voices for the characters of the narrator, the girl, and the doctor. Perry explained in the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?: "He played it for the first time on guitar and he sang it straight through with no changes at all. I thought to myself, 'This song has the potential to be like a little animated cartoon.' There are at least three different characters. So I said, 'Why don't you try using different voices. He responded to that immediately and gave this marvelous theatrical performance that has made the song a classic."
Nilsson wrote the word "coconut" on a matchbook during a vacation in Hawaii, thinking it would make a great lyric for a song. When he returned home to Los Angeles, he found the matchbook while he was driving down the freeway and wrote the song in his car.
Hookfoot musicians Caleb Quaye and Ian Duck played electric and acoustic guitar on the track, respectively. Herbie Flowers was on bass guitar, while Jim Gordon contributed with percussion.
Dannii Minogue covered this in 1994, and it was included on her 1998 album, Girl.
Coca-Cola put a spin on the lyrics for an ad campaign promoting Coca-Cola with Lime, saying "You put the lime in the Coke, you nut."
Several movies have featured the song, including Reservoir Dogs (1992) (where it plays over the closing credits), The Ice Storm (1997), Practical Magic (1998), Dick (1999), Daddy Day Care (2003), and Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009). It was also used on TV shows like ER, House M.D., LOST, Bones, and Parenthood.
Homer Simpson changed the lyrics to "you put the beer in the coconut" on the season 10 Simpsons episode "Mom and Pop Art."
The title word is repeated 28 times.
The Muppets performed this
on a 1979 episode of The Muppet Show
in a skit where Kermit is in the hospital, explaining his condition to a doctor. He falls asleep, and when he wakes up, he's in the jungle and the doctor is a witch doctor.