Coconut Grove

Album: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful (1966)

Songfacts®:

  • Formed as a "counter-revolution" to the British Invasion of the '60s, the Lovin' Spoonful brought their American roots music to the forefront beginning in 1965, with seven of their first 10 singles reaching the Top 10, although this song failed to chart.

    John Sebastian co-wrote "Coconut Grove" with Zalvan Yanovsky, who quit the band in 1968 after the fallout of turning in his drug dealer under threat of deportation. He later became a successful restauranteur in his home country, Canada. Sebastian quit the band in 1968, as well, under much different circumstances: he wanted to pursue a solo career.
  • Coconut Grove is a real coastal resort town in Florida with quite an illustrious filmography. Fans of the Al Pacino movie Scarface will recognize it for the city where his character lives. Dexter Morgan of TV's Dexter also calls it home. Singer George Michael filmed part of his video for "Careless Whisper" in a condo complex in the area.
  • In a 1999 interview with Richard Unterberger, Sebastian explained his inspiration for this song: "I was living in his house. My wife and I were staying at his house at the time, and yes, it ('Coconut Grove') was definitely Fred (Neil)-inspired. I can tell you that, as a songwriter, the natural way that he could combine these various styles just by being who he was. It wasn't any kind of an alchemy thing of 'we're gonna pour a little of this, and a little of that.' It was just who he was. That was very inspiring. And it also was a real lesson in how to let a lyric sound like it just fell out of your mouth, like you hadn't really labored over it. Fred always had that quality about his songs, and as a songwriter - at that time, I maybe had written two songs. But I certainly was taking note of how effortless these songs sounded.

    As a matter of fact, in later years, I began to get a little critical about them. And say well Jesus Christ, you had this genius two verses, why didn't you write the third verse, for god's sake? And in fact, that was the only place that I could actually say I had any influence on Fred, was that occasionally I did get up the nerve to say, gee, we're kind of going back to this first verse faster than I really feel like doing it. Couldn't we have another verse, Fred? And so that was part of the pincer movement that Felix (Pappalardi) and I were helping to apply. As I say, it was sort of on Paul Rothchild's behalf."

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