(I'd Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China
|"On A Slow Boat to China"|
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.
Paul McCartney sang this song to honor Frank Loesser.
|Recorded by||Released by||catalog number||Date first reached the
Best Seller chart
|weeks on chart||peak||notes|
|Kay Kyser Vocal: Harry Babbitt & Gloria Wood||Columbia Records||38301||October 15, 1948||19||#2|| 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|||
|Benny Goodman||Capitol Records||15208||November 12, 1948||12||#10|||
|Art Lund||MGM Records||10269||November 5, 1948||9||#13|||
|Larry Clinton||Decca Records||24482||November 26, 1948||1||#27|||
Frank Loesser's daughter, Susan Loesser, authored a biography of her father, A Most Remarkable Fella (1993), in which she writes:
|“||"I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China" was a well-known phrase among poker players, referring to a person who lost steadily and handsomely. My father turned it into a romantic song, placing the title in the mainstream of catch-phrases in 1947.||”|
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.
In film and television
- Featured prominently in the Peter Greenaway film 8½ Women
- Featured in the film A Rather English Marriage (1998)
- Featured in the Paul Thomas Anderson film The Master
- Featured briefly in the Adventure Time episode "Bad Timing", sung by Tree Trunks.
- Briefly sung by "Mother" (played by June Whitfield) in an episode of the long running BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous called "Fish Farm."
- The title of Gavin Young's break-through book, recounting a journey from Piraeus to Canton.
- The title of a novel by Chen Danyan in Shanghai, China.
- The title of a short story by Haruki Murakami, translated into English in the collection The Elephant Vanishes.
- Played on in the title of the song "Slow Hole to China" on the 2003 compilation album Slow Hole to China: Rare and Unreleased by the band Clutch.
- Played on in the title of the song "Slowcar to China" on the Gary Numan album Dance.
- Referred to in Only Fools and Horses; an episode is called "Slow Bus to Chingford".
- Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research.
- 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.