(I'd Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China

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"On A Slow Boat to China"
GenreTraditional pop
Songwriter(s)Frank Loesser

"On A Slow Boat to China" is a popular song by Frank Loesser, published in 1948.

The song is a well-known pop standard, recorded by many artists, including a duet between Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby (for their album Fancy Meeting You Here (1958)), Ella Fitzgerald, Joni James, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Buffett, Fats Domino and Liza Minnelli.

In the UK, the biggest hit version was recorded by Emile Ford and the Checkmates peaking at #3 in the official singles chart in 1960.

Ronnie Dove recorded the song for his 1966 album Ronnie Dove Sings the Hits for You.

Bette Midler and Barry Manilow recorded the song for Midler's album Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook (2003).

Miss Piggy performed the song with actor Roger Moore in an episode of The Muppet Show.

Paul McCartney sang this song to honor Frank Loesser.

Hit recordings[edit]

Recorded by Released by catalog number Date first reached the
Billboard magazine
Best Seller chart
weeks on chart peak notes
Kay Kyser Vocal: Harry Babbitt & Gloria Wood Columbia Records 38301 October 15, 1948 19 #2 [1] This version was a #1 hit in Australia in 1949 as well.
Freddy Martin and His Orchestra Vocal: Glenn Hughes and The Martin Men RCA Victor Records 20-3123 October 29, 1948 17 #5 [1]
Benny Goodman Capitol Records 15208 November 12, 1948 12 #10 [1]
Art Lund MGM Records 10269 November 5, 1948 9 #13 [1]
Larry Clinton Decca Records 24482 November 26, 1948 1 #27 [1]


Frank Loesser's daughter, Susan Loesser, authored a biography of her father, A Most Remarkable Fella (1993), in which she writes:

The idea being that a "slow boat to China" was the longest trip one could imagine. Loesser moved the phrase to a more romantic setting, yet it eventually entered general parlance to mean anything that takes an extremely long time.[2]


In film and television[edit]

The phrase "a slow boat to China" (or a snowclone thereof) features[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research.
  2. ^ Loesser, Susan. A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life, A Portrait by His Daughter. Donald I. Fine. 1993.