It's really true
How nothing matters.
No mad, mad world
And no mad hatters.
No one's pitchin cause there ain't no batters
In Coconut Grove.
Don't bar the door.
There's no one coming.
The oceans roar
Will dull the drummin
Of any city thoughts and city ways.
The ocean breezes cool my mind.
The salty days are hers and mine
Just to do what we wanta.
Tonight we'll find a dune that's ours
And softly she will speak the stars
Until sun up.
It's all from having
Just which way
Your head is blowing
Who's always warm like in the morning
In Coconut grove.
[Repeat first verse]
Coconut Grove marks the release of the album Hums by the Lovin’ Spoonful, some months after their most successful hit, Summer in the City. The album is not particularly psychedelic; in fact, the country music tinge of much of the record is its most remarkable contribution to pop music at the time. (Nashville Cats, included in Hums, but not included in this study of psychedelia, deserves the honor of being one of the earliest examples of a successful single of country rock in early 1967, a sound that would become quite fashionable in 1968. The song did fairly well on the charts at the time, but John Sebastian seems yet to be given his props for the initiation of country rock, an honor which is usually bestowed on Gram Parsons of the Byrds. Evidently the country sound of the Lovin’ Spoonful was too much like that of Roger Miller, who sang King of the Road, to be considered “serious” at the time, and of course the lyric of Nashville Cats is humorous like something Roger Miller might have written.) Hums was the last album that the Lovin’ Spoonful released. Guitarist for the Lovin’ Spoonful, Zal Yanovsky, was arrested for marijuana in early 1967, and was said to have snitched on his dealer, for which he & the Lovin’ Spoonful were ostracized by the music community, effectively ending their career as a group. Yanovsky’s arrest for marijuana was one of the earliest in pop music, but was soon be followed by a spate of arrests (especially in England) during the course of 1967: among them Donovan, and members of the Rolling Stones.
The sound of Coconut Grove is more folk than psychedelic, and yet there’s an attention to altering the guitar sounds that goes with the era: the bass notes are moody and deep and suggest a warm Summer night; the accompaniment of a higher toned guitar sounds a good deal like a harpsichord. The lyrics expound on the delights of the Miami resort Coconut Grove and of letting go one’s troubles while on vacation. The singer appears to have escaped a large city, and is delighted that there’s no crime (“no need to bar the door”) and no noise. It’s a perfect place to be with the woman the singer loves, who “speaks the stars” out on the beach as they watch the sunrise. There’s nothing suggestive of a psychedelic experience in the lyric, but the sound techniques used in the recording had emerged from psychedelic experimentation and give the poem a trancelike, exalted atmosphere. The song is a tribute to Fred Neil, a resident of Coconut Grove, a friend of John Sebastian’s, and folk song writer of the 1960s, most widely known for his songs Everybody’s Talkin’, Dolphins, and The Other Side of This Life.