YES! We Have No Bananas!

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You won’t have to buy any bananas, you’ll GO bananas over this arrangement!

SKU: AJM19001 Category: Tag:


This novelty song by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn was published July 19, 1923. It became a major hit in 1923, placing No. 1 on the charts for five weeks, when it was recorded by at least a half dozen singers.

Frank Silver discussed the origins of the piece in an interview: he was performing at a hotel, and nearby was a fruit stand owned by a person of Greek heritage, and the owner began every sentence with “Yess” no matter what else was said afterwards. Silver was obsessed with this peculiar language “tick” and finally wrote lyrics, to which Irving Cohn provided music.

It’s possible that the piece was also influenced by banana shortages caused by Panama Disease that nearly wiped out the Gros Michel banana.

The noted popular song musicologist Sigmund Spaeth discovered that the melody could have been patched together from parts of other songs, including the Hallelujah Chorus, My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls, Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party, and Cole Porter’s An Old-Fashioned Garden.

Replacing the original lyrics with the words from the various melodies, one gets:

Hallelujah, Bananas! Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me!
I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls—the kind that you seldom see
I was seeing Nellie home, to an old-fashioned garden: but,
Hallelujah, Bananas! Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me!

This arrangement is an enormous amount of fun to play, especially if you can get people to sing along. It’s on the harder side of early intermediate, with more fingerwork than usual, but the patterns stay consistent, making it a quick study. Full lyrics are included.

Key: C major

Mood: playful, teasing.

Pedagogy: cut time, fermatas, staccato, syncopation, dynamics, 1st and 2nd endings.

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