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Home > Music > Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas

Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas
by Harry Chapin

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 coal-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) .

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 speed as the city spread its twinkling lights below him.
But he paid no heed as the shivering thoughts of the nights
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 hellslide,
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.
And 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 slid 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 that 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!"

From Greatest Stories Live: Ending #1

Yes, we have no bananas,
We have no bananas today
(Spoken: And if that wasn't enough)
Yes, we have no bananas,
Bananas in Scranton, P A

From Greatest Stories Live: Ending #2:

A woman walks into her room where her child lies sleeping,
and when she sees his eyes are closed,
she sits there, silently weeping,
and though she lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania
She never ever eats ... Bananas
Not one of thirty thousand pounds .... of bananas


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"Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world?" -- Harry Chapin, 1942-1981.

 

 


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Sniper & Other Love Songs

 
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In 1972, Harry released Sniper & Other Love Songs. Thirty years would pass before the album would ever reach the CD format. Sniper was finally re-released in June, 2002.

Originally given a working title of Sweet City Suite, the album tells the story of various characters one might run into in a city. The album features the original studio versions of Chapin classics "A Better Place to Be" and "Circle." But perhaps more importantly (as those songs are already well-distributed on compilation CDs), the album features seemingly lost Chapin stories, including "And the Baby Never Cries," "Burning Herself," "Barefoot Boy," and "Woman Child."

Sniper is for the seasoned Chapin fan. New fans would do better to check out Greatest Stories Live. But for Chapin fans who have reached the level of the Dance Band on the Titanic album, this is the next step. Slightly over-produced and having a little of the "forced" feel that some of Harry's studio albums possess, this album does not capture the powerfully live Harry Chapin. Nonetheless, it captures Harry's great iconoclastic songwriting--Harry takes the story song to new heights here. But the album works best for those ready for it; don't buy it until you are ready to appreciate it!