Saturday, March 13, 2010

Music: Harry Nilsson/Coconut

It is always an indication of age when a song that I know from first release is known to my kids as part of a retro soundtrack. An example I gave previously was the use of Little Boxes in the TV show Weeds

So it is with Coconut, which is known to them from its being featured in that great Quentin Tarantino flick Kill Bill. I could go on for hours about Kill Bill but we’ll save that for another day, this post is a music item.

Everyone knows that brother bought a coconut for a dime, that his sister put the lime in the coconut and that as a result she developed a belly ache, necessitating the calling of the doctor. Sure it’s nonsense, but what wonderful nonsense.

There is a marvellous clip on YouTube of Coconut being sung with the guys dressed in gorilla suits. See it at:
Some trivia about the above video clip:

It is believed that the gorilla at the piano is John Lennon, Harry Nilsson’s drinking buddy.

I love the bewilderment of the gorilla with the spoon at about the 2.35 mark when his spoon breaks. The reaction and look is priceless. Even better is that he then starts hitting the coconut even harder with the spoon, causing another bit to fly off and hit him in the face. It couldn’t have been scripted.

The video is also a tribute to Ernie Kovacs and the Nairobi Trio, There had been acts in gorilla costumes before, plus routines where someone annoys someone else, resulting in a slow burn and ultimately retaliation. Ernie Kovacs put them together with impeccable timing to come up with some novel and humorous skits. See the Nairobi Trio at:

Some trivia about the song:

Written by Harry Nilsson (1941-1994) and appears on the Nilsson Schmilson album.

The entire song is written in one chord, C7.

It has been used in Reservoir Dogs, Practical Magic, and Wag The Dog, as well as in The Simpsons and House.

Danii Minogue’s awful version is at:

Harry Nilsson’s estate must have received plenty to desecrate the song by allowing Coca Cola to use it to advertise lime Coke, using the lyrics “You put the lime in the Coke you nut…” (groan) - see it at:

There has been speculation about the meaning of the lyrics, some suggestions offered being that it’s about:
    drug taking
    a hangover
    a mixed drink

I don’t know what it means, I just like it. So I’m signing off to play it again. Adios.

Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dine...


  1. I watched the video for the first time today. I immediately thought the gorilla at the piano was Lennon. Is just because I know they were drinking buds or does it somehow look like John? Who was the percussive gorilla?

  2. I believe all the gorillas are Nillson as there are other clips of him overdubbing his vocals and blending video images of himself together


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