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MMD > Archives > July 1998 > 1998.07.24 > 17Prev  Next

The Original QRS Roll of 'Ching Chong'
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Over the past year or two, numerous references have been made
to the QRS player piano roll #186, 'Ching Chong', Jazz Arrangement, Key
of G flat, Words and Music by Lee S. Roberts, played by Ted Baxter and
Max Kortlander, Copyright by Lee S. Roberts, 1917.

So, in the interest of history and to set the record very straight,
here are the exact words as found on the roll.  Words in parenthesis are
not on the roll.  All punctuation marks have been duplicated as best as

(Verse 1)
  'Way out in old "San-Fran" there is a Chi-na-man,
    who's known for miles a-round;
  Won-der-ful place he keeps, down where he eats and sleeps,
    way un-der-neath the ground!
  Each night the fes-tive chinks, come there to wink and blink,
    and dream a-way the hours.
  They sing this fun-ny song while they are borne a-long
    on beds of pop-py flow'rs,

  "Ching Chong, Oh Mis-ter Ching Chong,
    you're the king of Chi-na-town,
  Ching Chong, I love your sing-song
    when you have turned the lights all down;
  Ching Chong, just let me swing 'long
    thru the realms of drow-sy land;
  dream-ing while stars are beam-ing,
    Oh! Mis-ter Ching Chong, sing-song man."

(Verse 2)
  When you're in "Fris-co town" don't fail to drop a-round
    and see this Ching Chong man.
  Wonderful things you'll learn down where the torch-es burn,
    he'll show you all he can.
  Then, when the time is ripe he'll fill your lit-tle pipe
    and then a light he'll bring.
  Gent-ly you'll float a-way far out on slum-ber bay ,
   and soft-ly you will sing:


As all can plainly see, this song makes one racist comment by
referring to the Chinese people as 'chinks', but, they are noted as
being 'festive' (there is no reference to Hong Kong).  What the song
advocates is the smoking of opium, learning 'wonderful things',
'floating away' (from reality) and singing, when you visit San Fran-
cisco.  (Makes me wonder how many people heard the song, packed up
their suitcases and ran off to S.F. for a 'short vacation'.)

My point is that, by today's standards, the song is totally 'incorrect'
politically, morally and realistically.  But, it's still a great tune
with interesting lyrics and, is played by the leading artists of the
day.  It doesn't reflect poorly on the artists or the composer because
it was (and is) a statement of fact for that time in American history.
And therefore, it should be honored as truthful, accurate and
insightful...  not 'politically' anything!

For a more in-depth look into my deep feelings about Political
Correctness and Prejudice, read my web page (especially created in
response to D. L. Bullock's posting, 980722 MMDigest) at:

For those without net access, send me an email and I'll send
you a text file of the page.


John A. Tuttle (

Key Words in Subject:  Ching, Chong, Original, QRS, Roll

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