Music that leaves a lasting impression requires a wandering soul to tame it. That’s an apt description of the moments Jon Coco elicits with his melodic and lyrical craftsmanship. Enduring hopefulness tempered by the unavoidable obstacles that life brings is at the core of Coco’s emotive perspective. His songs remind us that heartache and love are not to be mastered, but to be lived in and learned through. Perhaps Coco’s music resonates with those of so many walks of life because his own path has taken so many turns. “I wanted to tell my story of love found and lost, and the journey that two people would take,” he explains. “It’s an age-old story all of us can relate to.”
As a boy growing up in Boston, Coco immersed himself in the music of timeless bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Pink Floyd. Tapping into the music of the ‘70s with an impressive vinyl record collection, he started writing original music and dove into performances in the late ‘80s Boston music scene.
Invited by an A&M recording studio head engineer to record songs for A&M, Coco gave in to the eventual lure of Los Angeles and the larger opportunities it promised. An early lesson would come when A&M Records closed their doors while his band was still recording their debut record. After two years as a staple on the Hollywood live club scene, Coco seized the opportunity to try his hand at creating music for a film trailer. “My bandmate Jamie and I got asked to submit a piece of original music for a movie trailer, I think it was Sandlot II,” he says. “We had no idea this niche of the music business existed. We said ‘sure!’ and scrambled to find a way to record it. They loved it and we got a huge check! We immediately bought a Pro Tools rig and we were off to the races. It just snowballed from there.”
This pivot provided many years of work and included his compositions in the marketing campaigns for Oscar-nominated and award-winning films such as The Departed, Batman Begins, No Country for Old Men, Room, and numerous others.
Endlessly pursuing his own true north and identity, Coco relocated to Nashville in 2016 to trade the companionship of traffic and airplanes for a mini ranch with horses, donkeys, and chickens. This slower and more relaxed pace, exacerbated by the Covid lockdown, has cultivated an even more intense maturation of Coco’s signature style. “I came across a video of an Elliot Smith performance at Largo in Hollywood as a guest of Jon Brion’s show. It inspired me so much that two hours later I had ‘Living In LA’ written and completed! The floodgates were open. The next day, ‘Boxley Valley,’ which is a song about my home in Tennessee, came out of me just as quickly. Five days later, I had five songs done.”
There is a common element to his music that is as relatable for listeners of a major metropolitan area as for those in rural surroundings, because their source is a man who finds the essential humanity in both. Those with an affinity for Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, and the Eagles rebuke a “regional” definition to their taste and relate to Jon Coco’s music similarly. In an America that seems so often divided, his music is a reminder to focus on the day-to-day of our own immediate experiences. Recorded with a group of talented friends hailing from Nashville and Los Angeles, Jon Coco is exhibiting with each song that music literally brings us all together.
Photo credit: Patrick Johnson