Sunday, July 1, 1973

50 years ago: “Yes! We Have No Bananas” hit #1

Yes! We Have No Bananas

Billy Jones

Writer(s): Frank Silver, Irving Cohn (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 1, 1923

Peak: 15 US, 12 GA, 15 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.43 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Frank Silver and Irving Cohn wrote this “classic comic novelty song” DJ and published it on March 23, 1923. Silver explained that when his orchestra was playing at a hotel in Long Island, he would stop at a fruit stand owned by a Greek who began every sentence with “Yes,” even when he didn’t have the requested item. SM As Silver said, “The jingle of his idiom haunted me…Finally, I wrote this verse and Cohn fitted it with a tune.” WK

The fruit seller was likely affected by a banana shortage as a result of an outbreak of Panama disease, which wiped out much of the banana crop at the time. GR The song re-emerged in 1932 as a rallying cry in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Outdoor Relief Protests, a movement “dedicated to securing social security and welfare benefits.” GR The song title was often displayed in UK fruit shops during World War II because of rations and bans. GR

The song was introduced by Eddie Cantor in the revue Make It Snappy. The song is said to have borrowed from other tunes, including Handel’s Messiah. TY1 The first recorded of the song was by Edward Furman and William Nash, SM but it didn’t chart.

However, there were five versions of the song which charted in 1923 – Billy Jones (#1), Ben Selvin’s Orchestra featuring Irving Kaufman (#1), the Great White Way Orchestra featuring Billy Murray (#3), Benny Krueger (#8), and Sam Lanin (#15). PM Jones’ version was the first and most successful. It was also one of 37 top-20 hits, 27 of which were with partner Ernest Hare. Jones also lent his vocals to the version by Krueger’s orchestra. WK Spike Jones & His City Slickers revived the song in 1950.


First posted 11/20/2022; last updated 1/29/2023.

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