My friend Mark Casale and I were talking about Captain Beefheart last night (as we are often want to do) and were yucking it up over the surreal late-night TV commercial for the Beef's 1970 record, Lick My Decals Off, Baby (which I posted about last month).
This prompted Mark to ask me if I'd ever seen the bizarre promo video for Cat Steven's 1976 song, Banapple Gas. I'd never even heard of the song. It was a track on Steven's ninth studio record, Numbers. Numbers was composed as a concept album, subtitled "A Pythagorean Theory Tale."
[Numbers] was based on a fictional planet in a far-off galaxy named Polygor. The album included a booklet with excerpts from a planned book of the same name written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott. The booklet features pen-and-ink illustrations drawn by Stevens.
The concept of the album is a fantastic spiritual musical which is set on the planet Polygor. In the story there is a castle with a number machine. This machine exists to fulfill the sole purpose of the planet – to disperse numbers to the rest of the universe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 (but notably not 0). The nine inhabitants of Polygor, the Polygons, are Monad, Dupey, Trezlar, Cubis, Qizlo, Hexidor, Septo, Octav, and Novim. As the last lines of the book say, they "followed a life of routine that had existed for as long as any could remember. … It was, therefore, all the more shocking when on an ordinary day things first started to go wrong." The change takes the form of Jzero, who comes from nowhere as a slave and eventually confuses everybody with his simple truth. (Wikipedia)
Um, sure. OK.
An online search also finds claims that Banapple Gas was a reference to Banadine (the mythic drug made from banana peels), a derivative form of LSD, and/or another name for Amyl Nitrite.