1923: We Have No Bananas

Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers

Yes! We Have No Bananas
By Skidmore Music Co. Inc. – https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-4f77-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99#/?uuid=510d47da-4f77-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75609690

There were 13 #1 songs in 1923, 100 years ago. Yes! We Have No Bananas was two of them. Frank Silver and Irving Cohn wrote the song for the 1922 Broadway revue Make It Snappy. Eddie Cantor sang it in the revue.

The Wikipedia page offers context. “Silver explained the origin of the song to Time Magazine: ‘I am an American, of Jewish ancestry, with a wife and a young son. About a year ago, my little orchestra was playing at a Long Island hotel. To and from the hotel, I was wont to stop at a fruit stand owned by a Greek, who began every sentence with ‘Yes.’ The jingle of his idiom haunted me and my friend Cohn. Finally, I wrote this verse, and Cohn fitted it with a tune.'”

In addition to those listed below, recordings by the Great White Way Orchestra with Billy Murray got to #3, Benny Krueger to #8, and Sam Lanin to #15 that same year.

It was later covered by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, Spike Jones & His City Slickers, and at least five dozen other versions.

The tune also inspired a response song, “I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues”, recorded by Cantor, which got to #2, and Belle Baker to #11, also in 1923.


Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers– Paul Whiteman, #1 for seven weeks, instrumental

Swingin’ Down The Lane –  Isham Jones, #1 for six weeks, instrumental

That Old Gang Of Mine  – Billy Murray and Ed Smalle, #1 for six weeks

Yes, we Have No Bananas – Billy Jones, #1 for five weeks, comedy

Down-Hearted Blues – Bessie Smith,   #1 for four weeks, gold record

Toot, Toot, Tootsie! Goodbye – Al Jolson, #1 for four weeks

Carolina In The Morning – Van and Schenck, #1 for three weeks

Love Sends A Little Gift Of Roses – Carl Fenton, #1 for three weeks, instrumental

Dreamy Melody – Art Landry, #1 for three weeks, gold record, instrumental

Yes! We Have No Bananas – Ben Silvin with Irving Kaufman, #1 for two weeks, novelty

I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise – Paul Whiteman, instrumental written by George Gershwin

Bambalina – Paul Whiteman, instrumental

Besides Bananas, three of these songs are very familiar to me: Wooden Soldiers, Tootsie, and Carolina.

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