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Put The Lime In The Coconut

Put The Lime In The Coconut, And Drink It All Up – Harry Nilsson

Put The Lime in The Coconut, and Drink It All Up” – Lyrics from the song “Coconut”, a popular novelty song written by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson.  The song is on his 1971 album “ Nilsson Schmilsson”.


“Coconut” remained on US charts for 14 weeks and reached no. 8.  It was ranked as 66th in Billboard magazine’s top 100 hit singles of 1972.

“Coconut” was a minor hit in the UK, where it reached 42nd spot. In Canada the catchy song was very popular, reaching 5th on the charts.


The lyrics are about someone who gets an upset stomach after consuming a drink mixed with lime and coconut, and presumably rum!   She calls her doctor in the middle of the night and he gives her the advice to drink the same drink as a treatment.

Put The Lime In The Coconut - Nilsson Schmilsson Album

Put The Lime In The Coconut – Nilsson Schmilsson Album


Song Creation

When Nilsson was in Hawaii on vacation he wrote down the word “coconut” with the intent to write a song.  It is said, that when he returned home he then found the note and created the lyrics to “Coconut” while on the freeway in his car.

The lyrics include four characters, the doctor, the person with the tummy ache, the man, the narrator. Nilsson’s producer Richard Perry convinced Nilsson to use different voices for the three characters, speaking their parts, and creating a cartoon-like scenario.


Other musicians collaborated with Nilsson, including Caleb Quaye and Ian Duck from Hookfoot (electric and acoustic guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass guitar), and Jim Gordon (percussion).

Nilsson’s Life 

The song and Nilsson have been the subject of many stories, there have been many interpretations of the song and theories as to how it connects to Nilsson’s somewhat troubled life.

Harry Nilsson was born into a large Irish American family in Brooklyn.  Nilsson’s father abandoned the family months after he was born.  Nilsson’s mother was an alcoholic. Nilsson experienced poverty and hardships growing up with his family, which is considered to have inspired many of his songs in the 60s and 70s.

Nilsson often explored themes of “dreams and wishes” in his song lyrics.  He considered himself an “escapist”.  His lyrics often include reference to the many experiences of Nilsson and his friends.  It has been suggested that “Coconut” is symbolizing some aspect of his troubled life, possibly his substance abuse.

Nilsson was a good friend of John Lennon of The Beatles.

Coconut - Nilsson Schmilsson

Song Life

The song has a catchy Jamaican style, and it became very popular.  It is considered to be an “ear worm” song, replaying in the mind.  It was sung by other artists and also used in some commercials.  Coca Cola company used the song for their advertisement of their lime soft drink variant.  The song was also featured on television shows, including The Simpsons, and movies like “Reservoir Dogs” and “Ice Storm”.

 The Muppets Show performed the song in a 1979 episode, in which Kermit the frog is admitted to hospital and hallucinates about being in the jungle.

(Image:  Wikipedia)

Harry Nilsson    1941 – 1994 (52)

Nilsson had congenital heart problems, and died of heart failure.

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