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Bananas, A Musical Tribute

Updated on October 22, 2019
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Music is a diverse form of expression that takes in many styles. It's a popular field that can only be briefly sampled in a short article.

The Banana Farm

A Banana plantation in Cambodia
A Banana plantation in Cambodia | Source

The Origin of the Banana

Bananas are a subtropical fruit that naturally grow in large bunches. Originally, they were native to India and Australia and points in between. Today's banana is believed to have been first cultivated in New Guinea. At present, India and China are the two biggest producers of bananas.

The banana that is currently consumed in the U.S. and Canada is called the dessert banana or the Cavendish banana. Other types of bananas may be referred to as plantains. This food item is immensely popular in Latin America, where it is frequently enjoyed after being fried or baked.

Henry Cavendish, Philosopher and Scientist

Henry Cavendish was a British scientist, inventor and philosopher, who also dabbled in economic botany.
Henry Cavendish was a British scientist, inventor and philosopher, who also dabbled in economic botany.

Who was Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish was a British scientist (1731-1810), who is best known for being the first person to accurately calculate the weight of the earth. One of Henry's lesser known accomplishments is the early development of a edible prototype to the dessert banana, which is so popular today. .

Cavendish Bananas

The banana most common consumed today in the United States is known as the Cavendish banana.
The banana most common consumed today in the United States is known as the Cavendish banana. | Source

An Old Reggae Classic Revamped for Kid's TV

This reggae song was originally recorded by the Pyramids back in 1969 on Jay Boy records, an obscure British label. Recently, the fun tune was revived by the Aggrolites and then performed on a kid's TV show, called .Yo Gabba Gabba.

Banana Song by the Aggrolites

A Jamaican Folk Song Gets Airplay

The Banana Boat Song, also known as "Day-O", was originally a Jamaican folk song, sung by workers on island banana plantations. The first known recording of this song, occurred in 1952, when Trinidad singer, Edric Connor, released it as Day Dah Light. In 1957, Harry Belafonte released the song as a single, while a slightly different version appeared on his Calypso album.

Harry Belafonte Sings About Loading Bananas on a Boat

Banana Pancakes Anyone?

This laid-back, sleep-in, love song was first recorded by American singer, Jack Johnson, in 2005 on a folk, soft rock, album called In Between Dreams. Born in 1975, Johnson was a professional surfer before he became a recording and performing artist.

Banana Pancakes on a Rainy Day?

Just In Case You're Hungry

The following video shows how to make some delicious banana pancakes.

Banana Pancake Recipe

A Tragedy and a Comedy Combined

In 1974 Harry Chapin wrote this song about a 1965 tractor trailer crash that accidentally distributed 30,000 pounds of bananas onto a Scranton, Pennsylvania highway. This would be a funny song, except for the real-life fact that the driver in the story died. I guess that makes the story a dramedy (that's a combination of a drama and a comedy).

A True Story Concerning 30,000 Pounds of Banana

"Because I Don't Plan That Far Ahead"

Born in 1981, Jake Owen is a Country-styled folksinger, who began his recording career in 2006, when he released his first album, Startin' With Me. The following song, Green Bananas, is from his 2009 album release, Easy Does It.

I Don't Buy Green Bananas

Carmen Miranda Hits It Big As the Woman in the Tutti-Frutti Hat

The Gang's All Here is a 1943 big budget American musical that was released in the middle of World War II. It was probably meant as a feel good movie to help release war tensions that were probably beginning to mount at the time. In this film, Carmen Miranda played a secondary role to the already, proven Hollywood star, Alice Fay, though today Carmen is probably better known.

This lavish song and dance number doesn't mention bananas at all, but nonetheless, the curved yellow fruit is displayed abundantly in all different sizes. So much so, that film critics at the time had a field day placing Freudian analysis on the giant plastic replicas, which were held high in the long dance lines.

Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat

Can You Use a Banana Like a Cell Phone?

Just by its unique shape, it goes to show that a banana might make a great cell phone. In the following video, Canadian troubadour and children's entertainer, Raffi, explains all the things you can do with a bananafone.


The Bananafone

You can make your very own bananafone and then use it to call up the White House and say Hello..
You can make your very own bananafone and then use it to call up the White House and say Hello..

A Popular Indiana Quartet

The Hoosier Hot Shots were a popular Indiana jazz and swing quartet,who began their career in the 30s. They covered many jazz standards, while also creating their own songs, which often had a humorous bent. The following song, I Like Bananas, definitely falls in the latter category.

I Like Bananas by the Hoosier Hot Shots

A Popular Movie Commercial

During WWII, popular commercials like this one about the Chiquita banana, were viewed at the movie theater, as television was still in the experimental stage. The song was taken from a popular music number done by the Terry Sisters. It is unusual in the sense that the tune conveys much practical information on how to use and store bananas.

Chiquita Banana Commercial Song

The Great Banana Shortage

Back in the twenties, there was a real shortage of bananas, which may have inspired the 1923 hit song, Yes, We Have No Bananas. Disaster was averted, when growers switched to a more disease resistant variety of the popular yellow fruit.

Nonetheless, the current strain of yellow banana ( Cavendish) is still in danger of being decimated by a fungus disease, unless of course scientists come up with a new variety. Unfortunately, this scenario makes this whacky jazz tune a bit on the timeless side. So, sit back and listen to Spike Jones and his 1950 version.

A Real Song About the Great banana Shortage of the Twenties

A Banana Comparison

Over the years Gros Michel bananas have been replaced by the Cavendish variety.
Over the years Gros Michel bananas have been replaced by the Cavendish variety.

A Race Against Time

The existence of bananas as a viable commercial product presently faces a precarious future. The main culprit and antagonist in this case is the Panama disease, an active and aggressive fungal wilt, which threatens world wide production of the popular yellow fruit.

Presently, banana growers plant a variety of banana, known as the Cavendish. Before the Cavendish "cultivar" was used, "Gros Michel" was the banana of choice. Unfortunately, a the Panama disease hit the Gros Michel crop hard, even causing a shortage at times in the 20s and 30s.

Since the 50s, the Cavendish banana has dominated the world markets, but in recent years, the Panama disease has begun to infect this newer type of banana. Presently, plant scientists are hard at work developing new kinds of bananas, which will not succumb to the persistent Panama disease.

Is the future of bananas blue?

The banana of the future might be blue in color, which could once again provide a field day for songwriters and folksingers.
The banana of the future might be blue in color, which could once again provide a field day for songwriters and folksingers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Harry Nielsen


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