Doobie Brothers: China Grove Meaning
No tags, suggest one.
Song Released: 1973
China Grove Lyrics
anonymous Mar 21st 2021 report
Johnston. General Albert Sidney Johnston had a plantation in Tx named China Grove. He served in the TX War of Independ and the Confederacy. Are the two Johnstons related? Is this deeper meaning than we think? The San Anton part throws me off as Gen Johnston's China Grove is closer to Houston.
anonymous Nov 12th 2020 report
From the link posted above: China Grove is a small town in Texas, about 10 miles from San Antonio in Bexar county. Did Doobie Brothers singer/guitarist Tom Johnston know this when he wrote the song? Sort of. Here's what he told Songfacts: "The words were written last, and they were made up around this whole idea of this wacky little town with a sheriff that had a Samurai Sword and all that sort of thing. The funny thing was that I found out in 1975 in a cab in Houston that there really was a China Grove, although what happened was in 1972 we were touring in Winnebagos, and we were driving into San Antonio. And there is a China Grove, Texas, right outside of San Antonio. I must have seen the sign and forgotten about it. And when I came up with the term 'China Grove,' I thought I was just making it up because of the words being about this crazy sheriff with a Samurai Sword."
Tom Johnston's lyrics were influenced by the oriental piano sound that Billy Payne came up with when they were working on the track. Payne was the pianist for Little Feat, and recorded with many other artists, including Elton John and James Taylor. In his Songfacts interview, Johnston said: "The piano lick went, 'Dadadadun, dadadadadundun.' It was an Oriental sounding lick. And so from there I took off and went to the place I ended up with lyrically. I must have seen that sign and forgotten it. And when the cab driver told me this in Houston, I said, 'You gotta be kiddin' me.' He said, 'There really is a China Grove.' I said, 'No, there isn't.' He says, 'Yeah, there really is. And it is right outside of San Antonio.' I said, 'That's weird.' And it turns out there's one in North Carolina, too."
This song has been used in a number of TV shows, including The Simpsons, Entourage and House. It has a very distinctive guitar riff, which makes it perfect for certain scenes. According to Johnston, however, he didn't think one way or another about the riff when he came up with it. Johnston claims that the only time he know a guitar lick was going to become a hit was the one he came up with for "Listen To The Music."
The late Keith Knudsen, drummer for The Doobie Brothers, had quite a culture shock when traveling with Al Kooper (of Blood Sweat & Tears fame) in Japan. As related in Kooper's memoir Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, Knudsen was dry and asked the bass player to score him marijuana - and was taken aback when informed that Japan was both a police state and very drug-free. The naive bass player tried anyway and brought back a tiny amount, wrapped in a paper packet as if it were a much higher-caliber substance. Knudsen casually lit up in the hotel room, and the bass player freaked out, stuffing towels under the door and carrying on like he thought they were going to be shot.
anonymous May 2nd 2020 report
A good old fashion rock song of the 70's by the Doobie Brothers about the times when the lone star state of Texas U.S.A and their Corporation[s] began to move as Traitors to set up big buisness with the more modern Communists of China, while home dough, our ''China Grove'' residents seemed that they were becoming oblivious to the thinking that ''people are alike all over'' not to be Earhly enslaved by the out of this world religion of the Preachers and Teachers, but still didn't seem to care what was happening to them or around them psychologically,politically and socially there in Texas where the residents were programmed, but also watched and controlled by the Sheriff's Samurai, while subconsciously the strange people of that town were just looking to The East.
anonymous Sep 7th 2019 report
anonymous Apr 1st 2018 report
Ok, I just got the real 411 on this song. How it got its name, etc. Right here:
anonymous Apr 1st 2018 report
My guess? The Doobies were looking at a map one day, poss'y planning a tour. All this before the Internet and Google Maps. They prob looked at TX thinking of hitting the major cities when one of them noticed the town of China Grove just outside San Antonio. They prob thought it odd, that a town in TX would have such a name. Then they prob speculated at how it got its name. Then they got creative: a town of Texans modeling the town and their lifestyles after how the Chinese (or east Asians generally) live. Then, they figured it'd be a funny song of some kind. So they got creative.
That's my speculation.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
More Doobie Brothers song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
|Talking to the Moon||anonymous|
|One More Night||anonymous|
|Life is a Highway||anonymous|
|The One That Got Away||anonymous|
|Good 4 U||anonymous|
|Depression & Obsession||anonymous|