The Songs of Summer #40: ‘Coconut Water’ by Robert Mitchum
Imagine a world….imagine a world where Hollywood bad boy Robert Mitchum decided to take a break from playing the heavy in flicks and breakin’ the law to step into a recording studio and cut an album. Imagine that album was not a rock and roll album or a collection of standards, but an album consisting entirely of calypso music. I can tell you that the world in which this all happens is real. It’s a place called 1957.
‘Calypso – Is like so…!‘ is in fact a 1957 calypso album by Bob Mitchum. It exists. It is real. It is unexplainable. A Robert Mitchum album of calypso songs sounds like the epitome of a novelty record, but it’s not. It’s a rather enjoyable slice of 1950’s kitsch… It’s fun music from a bygone era where Hollywood stars thought recording calypso albums was a good idea, and were right. It’s also a great album for summertime. And ‘Coconut Water‘ is de best song on de album, mon.
As you can imagine, a 1957 calypso album by a Hollywood star singing in a fake Jamaican accent isn’t exactly politically correct by today’s standards, but that’s part of its charm. These kinds of things just don’t happen today.
Why did it happen in 1957? It’s hard to say, but I’d imagine it had something to do with the calypso craze that was popular in certain folk music circles, the most popular example being Harry Belafonte’s calypso-flavored hits.
Robert Mitchum was the King of Cool in Hollywood; this album, rather than harming that reputation, only cemented it further.
And luckily for us, in 2015 we don’t have to travel all the way to the West Indies for some coconut water when we’ve lost our pep and our energy….today it’s considered a natural alternative to gatorade and is available at the grocery store. Too bad it’s expensive as hell. But a trip to the West Indies, coconut water or not, sounds pretty good. Maybe that’s the tonic I need.
p.s. Dig that album cover! I’d pick up a copy of this album simply for that album cover alone. But hey…wait a minute….that doesn’t look like coconut water Mitchum is drinking on the cover! What’s going on here???