Novelty Song Friday #17 — “Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas,” by Harry Chapin

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30,000 Pounds Of Bananas,” sometimes spelled “Thirty Thousand Pounds Of Bananas,” is a folk rock song by Harry Chapin from his 1974 album, Verities & Balderdash. The song became more popular in its live extended recording from Chapin’s 1976 concert album, Greatest Stories Live that started the phrase “Harry, it sucks.” The song is based on an actual truck accident that occurred in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1965.

The song portrays a fictional account of the incident played in the form of a country song. With each verse, the song gets faster, to, as Chapin explained in the live recording, “build up intensity and excitement.” During the chorus, Chapin sings the phrase “thirty-thousand pounds” followed by Big John Wallace singing the bass line “of bananas.” During concerts, the audience was encouraged to shout this refrain.

 

 

 

It was just after dark when the truck started down
The hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds (hit it big John) of bananas.

He was a young driver,
Just out on his second job.
And he was carrying the next day’s pasty fruits
For everyone in that cold-scarred city
Where children play without despair
In backyard slag-piles and folks manage to eat each day
About thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, just about thirty thousand pounds (scream it again, John) of bananas.

He passed a sign that he should have seen,
Saying “shift to low gear, a fifty dollar fine my friend.”
He was thinking perhaps about the warm-breathed woman
Who was waiting at the journey’s end.
He started down the two mile drop,
The curving road that wound from the top
Of the hill.
He was pushing on through the shortening miles that ran down
To the depot.
Just a few more miles to go,
Then he’d go home and have her ease his long, cramped day away.
And the smell of thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes the smell of thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

He was picking up speed as the city spread its twinkling lights below him.
But he paid no heed as the shivering thoughts of the night’s
Delights went through him.
His foot nudged the brakes to slow him down.
But the pedal floored easy without a sound.
He said “Christ!”
It was funny how he had named the only man who could save him now.
He was trapped inside a dead-end hell slide,
Riding on his fear-hunched back
Was every one of those yellow green
I’m telling you thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, there were thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

He barely made the sweeping curve that led into the steepest grade.
And he missed the thankful passing bus at ninety miles an hour.
And he said “God, make it a dream!”
As he rode his last ride down.
He said “God, make it a dream!”
As he rode his last ride down.
And he sideswiped nineteen neat parked cars,
Clipped off thirteen telephone poles,
Hit two houses, bruised eight trees,
And Blue-Crossed seven people.
It was then he lost his head,
Not to mention an arm or two before he stopped.
And he smeared for four hundred yards
Along the hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania.
All those thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

You know the man who told me about it on the bus,
As it went up the hill out of Scranton, Pennsylvania,
He shrugged his shoulders, he shook his head,
And he said (and this is exactly what he said)
“Boy,  it sure must’ve been something.
Just imagine thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, there were thirty thousand pounds of mashed bananas.
Of bananas. Just bananas. Thirty thousand pounds.
Of Bananas. not no driver now. Just bananas”
Songwriters: Harry F. Chapin

 

10 Comments Add yours

  1. That is a shit load of bananas. When life hands you smashed banana, it is time to make banana bread.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      LOL. I remember they played this on the first FM radio station, out of GR, that I ever listened to. It was mind-boggling good the first time and every time since.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Thanks Lisa! I haven’t heard this song in ages. I had this song on one of his albums. I have a 70s novelty song coming up this weekend for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I like the idea of you owning a Harry Chapin album. OK cool! I love these novelty songs. I found another good one for next Friday already.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Yes I did…I got it from Columbia House. Good I’m lucking forward to it.
        The one I have involves hippies and rednecks lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. rivrvlogr says:

    I saw Harry Chapin numerous times in the seventies. When my sons were little, I would hold them and dance around the room swinging them about as I sang this song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      There is an inherent goodness in his music, don’t you think so? I didn’t realize you had sons. I know you have a daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rivrvlogr says:

        Yes, there is.
        I have a son in Ohio, and one in New York. All three make me proud.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. memadtwo says:

    The whole Chapin family has shed a lot of light on the world. Feeding the hungry, body and soul. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

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