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Friday Funny: The Beach Boys Weren't Talking About Kokomo, Indiana

Aruba is real. Jamaica is real. Bermuda, Bahama, Key Largo, and Montego are all real. There is no Kokomo located off the Florida Keys, however, as promised by a famous song by the Beach Boys.
October 25, 2019, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Kokomo, as described by the Beach Boys in 1988, is more of a state of mind than a specific place, despite efforts to capitalize on the song's popularity.
Gail Johnson

If you're a child of the '80s and '90s like me, you know these lyrics well:

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

That's the first verse off a late-career smash hit for the Beach Boys called "Kokomo," released in 1988. More than 30 years after the song became a nearly ubiquitous earworm that stayed on the Billboard charts for 28 weeks, the Chicago Tribune commemorates the song's popularity by noting the still very real cottage industry of armchair Kokomo tourism.

"Using social media, tourists and fans of the song mark the spots that look and feel like the alluring destination The Beach Boys reference, even though you won’t find Kokomo on a South Florida map," reports Johnny Diaz.

"On Instagram, there are more than 116,000 hashtags dedicated to #kokomo. Users post photos of sun-dappled beaches with palm trees and seas in various shades of blue dotted with sailboats."

Diaz suggests that this song is still much more strongly associated with the Florida Keys than Kokomo, Indiana, or even a community named Kokomo in Hawaii. The ongoing cultural relevance of the song, and it's fabricated geographic reference are a testament to the power of song to evoke a state of mind and nostalgia for a time and place.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, September 23, 2019 in South Florida Sun Sentinel
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