Apparently there is a city in Texas, just east of San Antonio where all logic is just hurled out the window and is replaced by flying religious folks and educators, the oppressive Japanese shogun/samurai/sword-wielding/sheriff and his friends harass the locals on ethnic grounds and no one gives a shit they’re in Texas.
That or the Doobie Brothers were INCREDIBLY fucking high. I know the answer is the latter, by in my heart and in my boner, I like to believe it is the former.
In ’73 those Damn Doobies put out the album “The Captain and Me” which featured a little ballad about the aforementioned Texas hamlet of China Grove.
Though the song is pretty catchy, there is a 100% chance that not a single Doobie has EVER physically been to China Grove, no matter how many times they think they floated threw there on a slow moving ganja rocket.
The song was written by the band’s original lead singer Tommy Johnston, so Michael McDonald, though you are guilty for an unspeakable amount of musical atrocities, you’re off the hook for this one, buddy.
So lets take a look at the lyrics here and see if we can figure out, just what exactly the fuck, is going on in China Grove.
When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town
Down around San Antone
Not off to a bad start so far. This could be a tale about the wild west or adventures through Texas or Lone Star independence, or just a small town near San Antonio.
And the folks are risin’ for another day
‘Round about their homes
Nothing out of the ordinary yet, people waking up, getting breakfast, doin’ their thing.
The people of the town are strange
And they’re proud of where they came
Well, you’re talkin’ ’bout China Grove
Oh, China Grove
Ok, so the people of the town are apparently a little weird but really, who isn’t a little weird? Plus, they have home town pride, nothing wrong with that. They only way to know where you’re going is to know where you came from.
Well, the preacher and the teacher
Lord, they’re a caution
They are the talk of the town
When the gossip gets to flyin’
And they ain’t lyin’
When the sun goes fallin’ down
Still nothing too strange yet. Maybe I am over-reacting. This line was just about the local holy man and an educator spreading gossip. Maybe not the most pious thing, but it happens and in small towns, people do love they’re gossip.
This is the last part of the song that makes any sense.
They say that the father’s insane
And dear Missus Perkin’s a game
So the priest is crazy and the teacher’s a whore? Is this indicative of all of China Grove?
We’re talkin’ ’bout the China Grove
Oh, China Grove
But every day there’s a new thing comin’
The ways of an oriental view
Here’s how I see this whole thing going down, Tommy and the boys were on tour, in Texas, stoned out of their minds at the Alamo, or maybe the river-walk, and they get in the car and see a sign for China Grove and Tommy goes “Texas has a China town? Awesome. I want some General Tso, make it five star” and passes out in the back seat assuming that every resident of China Grove is obviously Chinese.
The sheriff and his buddies
With their samurai swords
You can even hear the music at night
Except for sheriff Takanamma and his Ronin, well I guess technically they wouldn’t be “Ronin” if they worked for the sheriff, but they are Samurai, right? Hey Doobies, the Samurai were Japanese. I’m assuming you just wanted the imaginary version of China Grove to be ethnically diverse and weren’t just being stereotypical.
And though it’s a part of the Lone Star State
People don’t seem to care
They just keep on lookin’ to the East
WHAT DOES THIS SONG EVEN MEAN?!?! Are the Doobie Brothers trying to insinuate that the residents of China Grove are a secret red Chinese army preparing to invade the rest of America?
Talkin’ ’bout the China Grove
Oh, China Grove