WCSX Classic Cuts
The Doobie Brothers: "China Grove"
The Hook: An Asian-sounding piano riff sparked a song about a town they'd passed with Asian-sounding name.
Album: The Captain and Me
Writer: Tom Johnston
Stats: Peaked at number-15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Background: China Grove is a real Texas town out San Antonio that just happened to be along a route The Doobie Brothers traveled during one of their early tours. Guitarist Pat Simmons explains how the band's Tom Johnston ended up turning it into the subject of a song.
Doobie Brothers guitarist Pat Simmons on how touring in Texas and an oriental-sounding riff played by Little Feat’s keyboardist led Tom Johnston to write “China Grove.” OC:…China Grove. :27
“Our first headlining tour was driving around in a motor home and Tommy saw a sign for China Grove. He didn’t even remember he’d seen it. Got back and we were in the studio and Billy Payne did this [sings riff]. And Ted said, ‘Wow, that sounds so oriental.’ And Billy said, ‘Yeah, well y’know, whaddaya think?’ and we go, ‘Well, let’s keep it.’ And then he says, ‘Tom, you gotta write something about some Asian thing.’ So he goes, ‘Okay.’ And so he went out and wrote ‘China Grove’”
The Doobie Brothers