Coconut Grove, Miami

Coconut Grove by The Lovin' Spoonful

Play Video
No one's pitchin'
'Cause there ain't no batters
In Coconut Grove Read full Lyrics
When John Sebastian (of The Lovin' Spoonful) sang of how "the ocean's roar will dull the drummin' of any city thoughts or lights," he could have been praising Coconut Grove. It's said that Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Formerly an independent city, Coconut Grove was officially annexed by the city of Miami in 1925.

Coconut Grove was originally recorded by The Lovin' Spoonful and later tracked by David Lee Roth. It's just as relaxed as the region. Years after The Lovin' Spoonful released this song in 1966, George Michael filmed some of his video for "Careless Whisper" in Coconut Grove (that's where he's standing on a balcony, reportedly in a condo complex, while a seaplane soars overhead). The track first appeared on the album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful. Despite the laid back song of the same name, this part of Florida has also inspired a few far more violent works of art. For example, Manny in the movie Scarface resides in Coconut Grove, and Dexter Morgan, the primary character in TV's Dexter, lives in Coconut Grove. Meet the Fockers was also set in Coconut Grove, which, although it is by no means a murderous or violent film, it is nevertheless not what you'd call a film with one big happy family.

Dinner Key Marina and anchorage in Coconut Grove, Miami, on early summer morning
Photo: Francisco Blanco, Dreamstime

The boundaries for this quaintly unique region find it north of North Prospect Drive, east of LeJeune Road, south of US 1, west of Rickenbacker Causeway (a rock 'n roll road if I ever heard one), and west of Biscayne Bay. It's also just east of Coral Gables. It features a lush green sandscape, and is still known as an attraction for eccentrics and free spirits.

Sebastian sings the song in a sexy, smoky voice, as though he's quietly seducing the cigarette girl at a bootleg jazz club. The guitar part rolls in and out, like ocean waves, and doesn't at all sound like a lot of the loud rock 'n roll that was rolling in and out of the music scene back in the mid '60s both from the U.S. and the UK. This was beach bum music before Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney made a fortune of it. It was also extremely inactive and passive music, in contrast to the extreme sports sounds of the Beach Boys, which were just starting to make a splash, first on the West Coast, and then all over the world.

Zal Yanovsky co-wrote it with Sebastian for the album (Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful), which was actually recorded up the coast in New York. This is the same album that gave us other big Lovin' Spoonful favorites, like "Summer in the City," "Rain on the Roof," "Nashville Cats," and "Full Measure." Excluding a soundtrack album, this was The Lovin' Spoonful's third album. The group deliberately tried to record in a variety of styles on this project, and they did just that, giving us pop, country, jug band, blues, and folk. And, of course, the cool jazzy "Coconut Grove." Sebastian and Yanovsky were the perfect musicians to pull off such a feat, as Sebastian played 12-string guitar, autoharp, piano, organ, ocarina, pedal steel guitar, and Irish harp. Yanovsky added electric and acoustic guitar to the mix, as well as banjo and slide whistle. They were, you might say, a two-man world music band.

Most music listeners will never get the chance to experience Coconut Grove the way Yanovsky and Sebastian did way back in the '60s. Besides, it's probably not the best-kept secret it once was. However, if you have a cool beverage, a comfortable spot outside and a real good imagination, you can go there, too, where the "ocean's roar will dull the drummin' of any city thoughts or lights."

Dan MacIntosh
November 16, 2013
Coconut Grove Songfacts
Browse all Songplaces

Comments: 1

  • Steve Fjeldsted from Eagle RockI just picked up a Japanese pressing of Hums of the Lovin Spoonful, one of my all-time favorite albums a
    and I have bought thousands of them. The mastering from the original tapes is nothing short of wonderful. My wife heard Cocoanut Grove and said she'd only heard the much inferior version by David Lee Roth. I'm pretty glad I've never heard that one. The playing on Cocoanut Grove and the rest of the Hums album is so good, in reconsideration I figured it was played on by session musicians, especially after hearing Nashville Cats, a charming, lighthearted tribute to the Tennessee pickers "who've been playin' since they's baybays." Cocoanut Grove is a timeless classic, and one that's extremely underrated and oft overlooked. Very pleased to hear the Spoonful actually played on the song. Where is John Sebastian when we need him?
see more comments