Oh Caroline, You Break My Heart…

The Steamboat Caroline:

The Steamboat Caroline, ablaze, going over Niagara Falls.


This is a posting about my favorite Caroline songs. “Sweet Caroline” is not one of them. They all happen to be about the destruction of a relationship, hence the pictures of the happy Steamboat Caroline’s demise in 1837, a casualty of a dispute between Canadians and Americans at the honeymoon capital of the world.


Matching Mole was Robert Wyatt’s first band after leaving the Soft Machine. This is one of my favorite love songs. The music is by David Sinclair, with Wyatt writing the lyrics about Sinclair’s former artist girlfriend Caroline Coon. Supposedly, she also inspired Dylan to write “She Belongs to Me”, and the Stranglers to write “London Lady.” She’s also responsible for the clothing and makeup in the incredible teen-punk band movie from 1982, Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains. Here’s young Diane Lane as the leader of The Stains.


And a young Laura Dern, along with indoctrinated Stain fans. 

Here’s Caroline Coon with Paul Simenon from The Clash. She was definitely a punk icon. 

 The breakup-song about her:

Oh! Caroline

“Caroline, No” was originally supposed to be “Carol, I Know”, but Brian Wilson fortunately misheard Tony Asher’s words, and they stuck with the new lyrics. Asher wrote the song about his ex-girlfriend Carol, who moved to New York and cut off her hair. That’s what a girl does when she  moves to New York, cast off the ideals of youth and become more mannish. This must have been a very serious offense. Brian sounds real beat up over the end of this relationship. It’s as though Caroline’s hair will never grow back. 

Brian Wilson once said it was a song about the phenomenon of sweet girls who grow up to be bitches. I’d rather take this song without the backstory, but there it is anyway.

Caroline, No

“Caroline, Goodbye” was written by Colin Blunstone of The Zombies. This Caroline happens to be Caroline Munro, famous model and actress, most known for her parts in Hammer horror films in the 60s and 70s. 

Here she is in the role of Margiana in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

Here she is having blood spilled on her breasts in Dracula A.D. 1972.

“Caroline Goodbye” is off of Colin Blunstone’s first solo record, One Year. This is a song about when the relationship is slowly dying and there’s “no use pretending” anymore. What a voice.

Caroline, Goodbye


3 responses to “Oh Caroline, You Break My Heart…

  1. OMG, I was obsessed with The Stains after seeing the movie on Night Flight. Yes!

  2. Blunstone is incredible. Good call.

  3. It’s worth mentioning that more of Matching Mole’s album is about the same thing. “Signed Curtain” starts quite beautifully yet with flippant lyrics that change abruptly at the end, so you know that poor Robert Wyatt still misses her even if he doesn’t mention her by name again. I never knew about Caroline Coon’s interesting career though.

    Caroline No is a wonderful end to Pet Sounds, including the sound of a large water container used as a percussion instrument. I think it was originally released as a solo single by Brian Wilson.

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