Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The Song, “Cor Na Do” (video)

Gonzo, a popular musician on and off the island, has added the song, “Cor Na Do,” to his permanent playlist. Photo by Joe Ditler.


Leave Coronado, and you miss it for the rest of your life. We’ve all known people with that experience, many of us have been there ourselves. Here’s what one man did to deal with his memories.

The players in this story are Gonzo (Michael Gonzales) a highly celebrated local musician; Coronado, pre-Bridge era; and Craig Culpepper, who left Coronado in 1980.

Craig was Class of ’67 at Coronado High School, and moved to New Zealand in 1980 with a sail-making job. He ended up working the farm life — fencing, sheep shearing, mustering with his dogs, and more. He taught high school English for 25 years, coached sports, created several worship bands and trained Special Olympics basketball teams.

Craig Culpepper, who grew up on the island of Coronado, now resides on the island of New Zealand.

In other words, Craig Culpepper fell in love with another island. Still, he just couldn’t get Coronado out of his head.

Recently Craig called to say he had written new lyrics to an old song, and wondered if I knew anyone who might want to perform it. We know the song as “Blue Bayou,” from such legends as Roy Orbison and Linda Ronstadt.

This shot of Craig Culpepper appeared on the cover of the Coronado Journal in the 1960s. Craig is dropping down the face of a big south swell at Coronado’s North Beach.

Under the creative imagination of Craig Culpepper, and the musical genius of Gonzo, the song is now, “Cor Na Do.”

The magic to this fresh set of lyrics stems from Craig’s childhood memories of an older, but not forgotten, Coronado — things like the car-carrying ferryboats. Bob’s Drive-Thru, hot dogs at Free Bros Market, Navy planes and Episcopal bells, La Avenida and the Hotel Del, south swells at North Beach, etc.

One of Coronado’s great institutions and memories, Free Brothers Market, then located at the corner of Orange Ave, 10th St and Isabella.

“Cor Na Do” has become part of the repertoire for the phenomenal musician, Gonzo. He performs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights outdoors of the Babcock & Story Bar, at the Hotel del Coronado, 6-10 pm.

Bob’s Drive-In was once a popular hang out on the island. Today Wells Fargo Bank sits on this spot.

When Gonzo played it for the first time, on the outdoor patio of the Hotel Del, the crowd went wild. He played it again the next night with the same reaction. He liked it so well that he’s made it part of his permanent playlist.

Gonzo is seen performing “Cor Na Do” in this short clip; a special performance to celebrate Coronado, memories of same, and of course, the whimsical humor of Craig Culpepper.


(Sung to the tune of “Blue Bayou”)

I feel so bad I got a worried mind
I’m so homesick all of the time
Since I left my buddies behind
On … Cor na do

Checkin’ tickets, packin’ my stuff
Countin’ money, maybe I got enough
Hope the plane ride’s not too rough
Back … to Cor na do

I’m goin back someday, come what may
To Cor na do
Where the folks are fine, and the world is mine
On Cor na do

Where those Ferryboats, 4th of July Floats
If I could only see
Star Park at sunrise, and those bright blue skies
How happy I’d be

Gonna see Bob’s Drive-Thru again
Gonna be with all of my friends
You know I’ll feel much better then
On Cor na do

Navy Planes and Episcopal Bells
La Avenida and The Hotel Del
Looking forward to Summer Swells
On Cor na do

I’m goin back some day, come what may
To Cor na do
Where the folks are fine, and the world is mine
On Cor na do

Where it never rains, nor the seasons change
You’re surrounded by Blue Sea
If I could get a Hotdog, from Free Brother’s Market
How happy I’d be


With those friends of mine, by my side
The morning fog and the evening tide
Oh some sweet day, gonna make my way
Back to Cor na do Isle

Well, I’ll never be blue, my dreams’ll come true …
On … Cor… Na … Do
Back on Cor na do…….

The author, Joe Ditler, with celebrated musician, Gonzo.



Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call [email protected], or (619) 742-1034.