♫ Sloop John B ♫

I’ve always liked this song, but never had a clue of its origins or meaning … but then, that’s typical of me, for I either like or dislike a song based on its sound more than anything, being nearly dear and rarely understanding the sung lyrics.  So the other night I played Kokomo by the Beach Boys, and this was one of several that Keith recommended, and Clive said that he liked most of the songs on the Pet Sounds album, so hopefully they’ll both enjoy this one and the rest of you will too!

According to SongFacts …

“Sloop John B” is a traditional West Indies tune about a sunken boat. It was adapted in 1951 by Lee Hays of the Weavers (as “The John B Sails”) and revived in 1960 by Lonnie Donegan. The Beach Boys’ folk music buff, Al Jardine, turned Brian Wilson onto the Kingston Trio’s recording of the song. For their updated version, Wilson added elaborate vocals and a 12-string guitar part. He also changed some of the lyrics, including “This is the worst trip since I’ve been born” to “…I’ve ever been on” as a wink to acid culture.

The song was popularized by The Kingston Trio, who adapted it from a version in poet Carl Sandburg’s 1927 songbook The American Songbag. The Kingston Trio’s version stays true to the song’s Calypso roots, and was released on their first album in 1958. Eight years later, The Beach Boys changed the title to “Sloop John B,” and came away with a hit. Their debt to The Kingston Trio goes far beyond this song: The Beach Boys adopted the group’s striped, short-sleeved shirts and wholesome persona as well.

This was the biggest hit from The Beach Boys landmark album Pet Sounds. The album was the brainchild of Brian Wilson, who got the title when Beach Boy Mike Love suggested dogs were the only creatures that would like it. To keep the animal theme, Wilson put some barking dogs on the album.

Brian Wilson hired 13 musicians to record this song on a midnight – 3 a.m. session on July 12, 1965. The session players packed into United Western Recorders in Los Angeles that night were:

  • Hal Blaine (drums)
  • Carol Kaye (electric bass)
  • Al De Lory (keyboards)
  • Al Casey (guitar)
  • Lyle Ritz (upright bass)
  • Billy Strange (guitar)
  • Jerry Cole (guitar)
  • Frank Capp (Glockenspiel)
  • Jay Migliori (clarinet)
  • Steve Douglas and Jim Horn (flutes)
  • Jack Nimitz (sax)
  • Charles Britz (engineer)

According to pop historian Joseph Murrells, this was the Beach Boys’ fastest selling record to date – over 500,000 within two weeks in the US alone.

During a discussion and performance at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles in January 2009 Wilson said that Pet Sounds was named using Phil Spector’s initials. Wilson’s approach to the producing of the album was influenced by Spector’s “Wall of Sound” technique.

This one reached #2 in the UK and Canada, #3 in the U.S.

Sloop John B

The Beach Boys

We come on the sloop John B
My grandfather and me
Around Nassau town we did roam
Drinking all night
Got into a fight
Well, I feel so broke up
I wanna go home

So hoist up the John B’s sail
See how the mainsail sets
Call for the captain ashore
Let me go home
Let me go home
I wanna go home, yeah, yeah
Well, I feel so broke up
I wanna go home

The first mate, he got drunk
And broke in the captain’s trunk
The constable had to come and take him away
Sheriff John Stone
Why don’t you leave me alone? Yeah, yeah
Well, I feel so broke up
I wanna go home

So hoist up the John B’s sail (hoist up the John B’s sail)
See how the mainsail sets (see how the mainsail sets)
Call for the captain ashore
Let me go home
Let me go home
I wanna go home
Let me go home (hoist up the John B’s sail)
(Why don’t you let me go home?)
Hoist up the John B’s sail (hoist up the John B’s sail)
Feel so broke up
I wanna go home
Let me go home

The poor cook, he caught the fits
And threw away all my grits
And then he took and he ate up all of my corn
Let me go home
Why don’t they let me go home?
This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on

So hoist up the John B’s sail (hoist up the John B’s sail)
See how the mainsail sets (see how the mainsail sets)
Call for the captain ashore
Let me go home
Let me go home
I wanna go home
Let me go home

Writer/s: Brian Wilson
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ Kokomo ♫

Tonight I must have listened to 20 songs, seeking just the right one … and I picked several, only to find out I had just played them within the past month or two … funny how quickly I forget what I’ve done!  Brain rot, I guess!  Anyway, when I listened to this one and found I only played it once, some 4 years ago, I said, “Bingo!!!”  Watching this tonight, I think … “They do look older, but they aged really well … if anything, they look better now than they did in their earlier years!”


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

♫ Good Vibrations ♫

For some reason, my mood is more upbeat tonight than it has been for a while, despite the low growling in my throat from the behaviour of he-who-shall-not-be-named today!  And so, I went in search of an upbeat song to play.

I was never a huge fan of the Beach Boys in my youth, generally preferring something a bit deeper, something with soul or meaning.  But, that’s not to say I didn’t listen to them and have most of their more popular songs committed to memory.  This one seemed appropriate for tonight.

According to Beach Boys co-founder, Brian Wilson …

“My mother used to tell me about vibrations. I didn’t really understand too much of what she meant when I was a boy. It scared me, the word ‘vibrations’ – to think that invisible feelings existed. She also told me about dogs that would bark at some people, but wouldn’t bark at others, and so it came to pass that we talked about good vibrations.”

Released on October 10, 1966, the single was an immediate critical and commercial hit, topping record charts in several countries including the US, UK, and even Malaysia!

Brian Wilson worked on this obsessively. At the time, he stayed home and wrote music while the rest of the band toured. Wilson was just starting a very bizarre phase of his life where he would spend long periods in bed and work in a sandbox. During this period, many considered him a genius because of the groundbreaking songs and recording techniques he came up with.

This was recorded over a two-month period using top Los Angeles session musicians – the Beach Boys didn’t play any instruments on the track. About 90 hours of studio time and 70 hours of tape were used, and at least 12 musicians played on the sessions. It’s hard to know whose performances ended up on the record, but some of the musicians involved were Glen Campbell (lead guitar), Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (organ) and Al de Lory (piano).

Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love wrote the lyrics for this song, which he told us were “basically a flowery poem.” The song seems to describe a really good acid trip, and while there is nothing specifically in the lyrics about drugs, Love admits that the psychedelic vibe was an influence on his words.

“It was this flowery power type of thing. Scott McKenzie wrote “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” and there were love-ins and all that kind of thing starting to go on.

So the track, the music of ‘Good Vibrations,’ was so unique and so psychedelic in itself. Just the instrumental part of it alone was such a departure from what we have done, like ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘California Girls’ and ‘I Get Around’ and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun,’ all of which I had a hand in writing. I wanted to do something that captured this feeling of the track and the times, but also could relate to people. Because I thought that the music was such a departure that who knows how well it would relate to Beach Boys fans at that time.

The one thing that I figured is an absolute perennial is the boy/girl relationship, the attraction between a guy and a girl. So I came up with that hook part at the chorus. It didn’t exist until I came up with that thought. Which is ‘I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, she’s giving me the excitations.’ ‘Excitations’ may or may not be in Webster’s Dictionary, however, it rhymes pretty well with ‘good vibrations.’ It was kind of a flower power poem to suit the times and complement the really amazingly unique track that Cousin Brian came up with.”

Good Vibrations
The Beach Boys

I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me the excitations (oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations)

Close my eyes, she’s somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossom world

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations)

Ah, ah, my my, what elation
I don’t know where but she sends me there
Oh, my my, what a sensation
Oh, my my, what elation
Oh, my my, what

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’

Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations

Na na na na na, na na na
Na na na na na, na na na (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)

Songwriters: Brian Douglas Wilson / Mike E. Love
Good Vibrations lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ 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