Did you know that bananas first went on sale in London in April 1633?
Inspired by this fact, weāve been delving into our printed music collections, and have discovered that the humble fruit has inspired a surprisingly large number of songs.
These include the romantically-titled 'When the banana skins are falling, Iāll come sliding back to you' (1926), the evocative World War 2 song 'When can I have a banana again?', and the catchy 1920s number 'Yes, we have no bananas'.
Published 1926. British Library VOC/1926/FRAZZINI
In our quest for banana-inspired music, we also came across a song entitled 'Iāve never seen a straight banana'. This piqued our curiosity, particularly in light of recent press coverage surrounding Brexit.
Apparently, one voter was swayed to vote in favour of leaving the European Union on account of regulations relating to banana shape. As a BBC news article explains, according to European Commission Regulations:
Bananas must be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature". In the case of "Extra class" bananas, there is no wiggle room, but Class 1 bananas can have "slight defects of shape", and Class 2 bananas can have full-on "defects of shapeā.
As our music collections reveal, though, concerns over banana shape, be they light-hearted or official, are not a new phenomenon. The comic song āIāve never seen a straight bananaā dates from 1926 and was written by the elusive British music hall comedian Ted Waite. Our copy is an arrangement for banjo and ukulele ā described as ābanjuleleā on the edition.
Published 1926. British Library VOC/1926/WAITE
Iāve seen bananas standing up,
And seen them lying down.
Iāve tried everywhere to find one,
Africa, Jamaica and Havana,
But Iāve never seen a straight banana.
Waiteās song was quickly āansweredā by one Waff Walker. Setting words by Harry Arthur, he composed āIām the man who found the straight bananaā in 1927. This went on sale the same year for the modest sum of sixpence.
Published 1927. British Library VOC/1927/WALKER
Described as a āchorus songā, suggesting it could be sung by a group rather than as a solo, the final lines boldly declare:
I went and done a something
Millions of others couldnāt do
Iām the man who found the straight banana.
To explore these and other banana-related music items in our collections, visit our Explore catalogue and search for ābanana musicā.