This simple yet powerful hit from the early 1970s is stuck in everyone's heads, but is the story behind the lyrics as straightforward as they seem to be?
So many people try to rip this song apart with analyses and hidden meanings, but there are two main and relatively simple messages behind it.
What was the message Harry Nilsson wanted to get across when he came up with this one? To get into the vibe of the song and the lyrics, let's briefly take a look at how the song was constructed and the mood he wanted it to encompass.
Nilsson came up with the idea for this track when he was on vacation, relaxing on a lovely beachfront. He simply wrote down the word coconut and, from there, came up with a story about a sister and a brother who eventually needed the help of a doctor.
He performed his creation for his producer Richard Perry, who loved it and suggested that he do character voices for all three of the parts and the narrator of the story in the lyrics.
Nillson was able to come up with a hit that uses only one chord (C7) throughout the entire song.
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The lyrics are quite repetitive in this song, but the main message can be found in the lines of the lyrics that I've added below.
Once you read the story behind the lyrics, the meaning pretty much speaks for itself. The girl got sick from mixing the lime and coconut together, which isn't a common thing to mix, and her stomach began to ache.
She called a doctor, who was irritated by the call so late at night, and he told her to try and mix the same two ingredients again to release the belly ache to make her feel better and call him in the morning.
The lyrics repeat over and over in a very simplistic song structure, suggesting nothing more than a silly loop between a girl making herself sick and a doctor telling her to keep mixing the same things together that made her sick in the first place to fix it.
Is the doctor just being rude to get more sleep? Will more of the same thing actually be good for her?
Some cultures actually mix coconut and lime together, which are already good for the body, to make a mixture that can actually settle the stomach.
But the girl in the lyrics seems she's in a pickle since the very thing that is supposed to heal her is what made her sick in the first place.
It's silly, it's goofy, and it's the type of story that kids would love to hear. The instrumentation and melody of the song make for a feel-good vibe that is timeless.
The slightly naughtier tale behind the lyrics here nods to the fact that the girl had to drink something akin to the hair of the dog (the very drink that got you wasted) in order to fix what may have been a hangover.
Coconut and lime mixed with alcohol can make for great beverages that can easily cause a hangover if you overdo it.
This interpretation behind the track was confirmed by Jimmy Webb, a good friend of Harry Nilsson, who did an interview about the time he was told about the song's true meaning.
The doctor in the story, from this perspective, is annoyed by the girl calling him hungover late at night and tells her to drink some more in order to calm her hangover and call him back in the morning during his normal business hours.
These days, there are tons of pills like the ones below to cure a hangover. But when the song came out, all people had to work with were remedies and word-of-mouth ideas that likely didn't work.
People who partake in cannabis activities like to use the phrase lime in the coconut to describe the act of putting marijuana into a bong, and some claim that these lyrics also secretly allude to that practice, but it's highly unlikely.
Rumors have gone as far as saying that the concoction was supposed to rid the girl in the story of an unwanted baby, which is another outlandish claim that is probably far from the truth for this song.
Others have tried to tie it to a common occurrence with drugs in Columbia, where users take cocoa leaves and lick a stick with powdered lime on it in order to get some psychedelic side effects, but the connection has never been confirmed.
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