” is a song written and recorded by Scottish singer/songwriter
. It reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and No. 8 in the UK in early 1967.
The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and
heard the rumour three weeks before “
” was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: “it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies’ vibrators.”
The phrase “
” appears towards the end of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, where it is used to refer to Mrs. Marion Bloom’s buttocks. But it is not known if Donovan took the phrase from there.
The record had a “Beatlesque” feel to it, and was sometimes mistaken for a Beatles song. Donovan, in fact, was friends with the Beatles. Paul McCartney can be heard as one of the background revellers on this track, but contrary to popular belief, it is not McCartney whispering the “quite rightly” answering lines in the chorus, but rather Donovan himself. Donovan had a small part in coming up with the lyrics for “Yellow Submarine”, and McCartney played bass guitar (uncredited) on portions of Donovan’s Mellow Yellow album.
In 2005 the track was remastered by EMI Records for the