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Music – 1983 – The Doobie Brothers – China Grove – Performed Live At Farewell Concert

China Grove is a song on the Doobie Brothers’ 1973 album The Captain and Me…..which was written and sung by original main singer/songwriter Tom Johnston….as the song reached # 15 on the  Billboard Hot 100. 

While there is a real China Grove, Texas….Johnston’s lyrics about the community are fictional….and like many songs by Johnston….the music was composed and developed before the lyrics were written…..as it started with a guitar riff that he and drummer John Hartman developed into a jam with a chord structure. Johnston said that the lyrics were influenced by a piano part in the performance….and according to Johnston, “…I really owe Billy Payne for the words because he played this wacky bridge that started the thinking process with this wacky sheriff, samurai swords, and all that.”  Although the song is based on a real town in Texas….Johnston thought he had created a fictional town called “China Grove” near San Antonio….and later learned it really exists from his cab driver in Houston….as Johnston later explained that the band had been on tour passing through the town of China Grove on the way to or from San Antonio….and he had seen a road sign with the name….but somehow had forgotten about it…..and even though the community’s name is real….the lyrics composed by Johnston are not based on the actual population of the town. 

As seen in this video herewith….The Doobie Brothers sing “China Grove” live on stage during their 1983 Farewell Concert.

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