Friday, April 12, 2013

Peaked at 15: China Grove

Day six of our Second Week Special of songs that peaked at #15 and our journey takes us back to 1973 and The Doobie Brothers’ recording of “China Grove.” The song was named for China Grove, Texas – a suburb of San Antonio although the connection to the real town is rather weak.

Tom Johnston, who wrote the tune, had a working title of “Parliament.” It is said that it was named for a brand of cigarettes that Johnston was currently smoking. It is not unusual for songwriters when writing the music prior to the lyrics to have a working title that fits the melody line. One of the better known examples was Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday,” which had the working title of “Scrambled Eggs.”

The Beatles’ tune appeared under the title of “Scrambled Egg” on the album “George Martin and his Orchestra Play Help! and other Instrumental Versions of The Beatles Songs by their Brilliant Recording Director.” Unfortunately (or fortunately), “China Grove” only appears under that title in all of the tune's recordings. It was featured on The Doobie Brothers’ third album “The Captain and Me.”

“China Grove” was the follow-up single to “Long Train Runnin’” – another Tom Johnston composition that did somewhat better on the charts by peaking at #8.

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