This was based on a true story about an accident in Scranton, Pennsylvania where a driver lost control of a truck full of bananas he was delivering. He was killed in the crash, and bananas were strewn all over the place. Sandy Chapin, who was married to Harry from 1968 until he was killed in a car accident in 1981, doesn't like this song at all. She explains how it came about: "That song morphed. It had a life of its own. Originally it was a poem that Harry wrote, it was just words on a page. And early on he was doing different kinds of musical performances with his father, and also his brothers who were in college at the time. So there was a limited time for them to perform. But he did it as a spoken song. And then I guess after the Village Gate days, and the beginning of the contract with Electra, he was going through notebooks and looking for material. He decided to put music to it. And I think the song developed a life of its own from audience reaction. It was a serious poem to begin with on the society's preoccupation with numbers. You have your drivers license and your social security and your credit card, and on and on and on and on. You're just made up of numbers. But it also was a story – a true story that was told to him while he was on a Greyhound bus ride. It's real. The widow still lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The original poem started from a preoccupation with numbers, and then it got to be a kind of performance piece that was kind of tragicomedy. Very difficult, I thought." (Read more in our interview with Sandy Chapin.)
On his Greatest Stories live album, Chapin says: "This song starts off with an absolutely brilliant Chet Atkins guitar lick that took me about 4 hours to steal."
In 1402 Portuguese explorers discovered bananas in Western Africa and took them to the Canary Islands. The word "banana" is the native word for the fruit in Guinea. The Europeans first came across bananas when in the early 15th century Portuguese explorers discovered bananas in Western Africa and took them to the Canary Islands. The word "banana" is the native word for the fruit in Guinea. Many North Americans got their first taste of bananas at the 1877 US Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents. (both the above from the book Food for Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce)