♫ Kokomo ♫

I liked the Beach Boys well enough in their heyday, the 1960s, but then their “fifteen minutes of fame”  (actually around 4 years) came to an end, and for me, life got real very fast, and by 1988, I had been married, divorced, and was struggling with three jobs trying to support three children, one severely disabled, and earn a Master’s degree.  It had been years since I had even thought about the Beach Boys.  But then came a new song from the Beach Boys … somehow more mature than some of their previous work, yet still bringing to mind the carefree existence of the beach days.

This song came together when the music producer Terry Melcher was hired to work on a song with The Beach Boys for the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. The Beach Boys’ glory days were behind them, and they had been playing fairs and nostalgia shows. They were one of the most popular bands of the ’60s, and had a bunch of songs dealing with recreation and fun, which is why they were asked to record for the movie.

Melcher was the son of actress Doris Day. In 1964, he worked as a staff producer at Columbia Records, where he teamed up with future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston on the hit “Hey Little Cobra,” which was credited to The Rip Chords. He was a producer on the first two Byrds albums and went on to work with Paul Revere And The Raiders. He knew The Beach Boys and contributed to some of their work, including backup vocals on Pet Sounds. Through Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, he met Charles Manson and worked on some projects with him before thinking better of it. In 1969, Manson and his “family” murdered five people at a house Melcher rented to director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Polanski was away filming, but Tate, who was pregnant, was one of the victims. After the murders, Melcher went into seclusion. This was a big comeback for him as well as The Beach Boys.

Brian Wilson was the creative force behind The Beach Boys, but he had nothing to do with this song.  Terry Melcher wrote this song with the help of John Phillips, who was a former member of The Mamas And The Papas, along with Beach Boy Mike Love, and Scott McKenzie, who had a hit in 1967 with “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair).” Phillips’ daughter Chynna was in the group Wilson Phillips with Brian Wilson’s daughters, Carnie and Wendy.  Small world, isn’t it?

According to Mike Love …

“The verses and the verse lyric was written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. He wrote ‘Off the Florida keys, there’s a place called Kokomo, that’s where we used to go to get away from it all.’ I said, ‘Hold on. We used to go sounds like an old guy lamenting his misspent youth.’ So I just changed the tense there. ‘That’s where you want to go to get away from it all.’ So that was the verse. And it was very lovely. But it didn’t have such a groove, I didn’t feel.

So I came up with the chorus part: ‘Aruba, Jamaica, ooo, I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on, pretty mama. Key Largo, Montego…’ That’s me, the chorus and the words to the chorus was Mike Love. The verse was John Phillips. The bridge, where it goes, ‘Ooo, I want to take you down to Kokomo, we’ll get there fast and we can take it slow. That’s where you want to go, down to Kokomo,’ that’s Terry Melcher. Terry Melcher produced the Byrds and Paul Revere & the Raiders, very successful producer. But he actually produced that song and he wrote that bridge part, which Carl Wilson sang beautifully. And I sang the rest of it. I sang the chorus and the verses on that particular song.”

Kokomo
The Beach Boys

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go, Jamaica

Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo
That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand
We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band
Down in Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
oh I want to take you down to
Kokomo, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
That’s where we want to go, way down in Kokomo

Martinique, that Montserrat mystique

We’ll put out to sea and we’ll perfect our chemistry
And by and by we’ll defy a little bit of gravity
Afternoon delight, cocktails and moonlit nights
That dreamy look in your eye, give me a tropical contact high
Way down in Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
oh I want to take you down to
Kokomo, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
That’s where we want to go, way down in Kokomo

Port au Prince, I want to catch a glimpse

Everybody knows a little place like Kokomo
Now if you want to go and get away from it all
Go down to Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
oh I want to take you down to
Kokomo, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
That’s where we want to go, way down in Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go

Songwriters: John E.A. Phillips / Mike E. Love / Terry Melcher / Scott J. Mckenzie
Kokomo lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

20 thoughts on “♫ Kokomo ♫

  1. Good song Jill, with an impressive amount of background work on the history of the Beach Boys, Terry Melcher & John Phillips, my interest kind of filtered out about 1976-ish, so this was an interesting read.
    Hey warrior Jill from the 1980s. You were a bit of a hero weren’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, yes…. another all time favorite!!!! Such a great song! Upbeat… fun …. filled with happy memories!!!!! Great pic, too! Sounds like you’ve had your share of troubles!
    It’s not all cupcakes and roses, but somehow we manage! Sending you hugs ! Thanks for picking another great song with an interesting history! 💙

    Liked by 1 person

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