If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen it by now: The ad for Lime Coke with the strange, catchy tune.
If you were ever a Harry Nilsson fan, you may feel a slight sense of outrage. Or nostalgia.
And if you can hear, you’ll recognize why the ad has a follow-the-bouncing-ball section: To convince you that what’s being sung is “lime in the Coke, you nut,” even though you don’t think that’s what you heard.
It isn’t what you heard.
Harry Nilsson wrote The Coconut Song and recorded it in 1971. As with much of what Nilsson did, it’s a mix of talent and eccentricity. I can’t make sense of all the lyrics, but the verses have something to do with “Doctor, ain’t there something I can take…to relieve this bellyache” and the chorus goes,
“You put the lime in the coconut, you drink them both up…”
I trust Nilsson’s estate got a hefty fee for the deliberate misquotation and use of his performance. I don’t plan to try the new concoction, but then I don’t care for pop in general. (Sodas? Cocola? I don’t know what my regional term for sweet fizzy stuff is supposed to be.)
(Mondegreens? Mishearings of song lyrics as being other lyrics. Jon Caroll’s written a number of great columns over the years about Mondegreens, which take their name from a mishearing of a ballad about how they killed Lord such-and-such and laid him on the green, which was heard as “they killed Lord such-and-such and Lady Mondegreen.”)