Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Road to Hong Kong - Bob Hope & Bing Crosby

Hey record collectors…are you like me? Did you ever buy a record, decide it was stupid and trade it in…and then realize later you really liked it after all…and bought it again?

Here's one (of many) examples for me: the title song for the last road picture made by Hope & Crosby (Dorothy Lamour and Joan Collins were the leading ladies). Bob and Bing were an odd comedy team…Crosby fancied himself a droll fellow who deserved to get some of the laughs, and Hope believed he had a pretty good singing voice, and loved to croon his theme song "Thanks For the Memories."

In their "Road" movies, they easily gave each other a chance to get some chuckles, which was a change from the standard comedy team where there was a defined line between straight man and stooge. This song reflects their smooth willingness to let the other have the spotlight (to some extent, anyway..."rivalry" was part of the Bing and Bob forumula, especially when the film had only one leading lady).

This middle of the road number has a middling amount of mild humor. Neither take the melody too seriously, either. Bing gets to sing the inane refrain: "Sip a little oolong tea" (to 7 familiar stereotypical Asian melody notes).

The venerable team of Cahn-Van Heusen hacked this on automatic pilot with vaudevillian music you could swear you've heard before, but listen to how they get away with the tricky rhyme scheme that unashamedly keeps rhyming Hong Kong to anything from gong to Fong, without going wrong.

Just download this and listen for yourself. Then delete it. Then, a year later, come back to the blog and download it a second time! Some tunes are like Chinese food. Just when you think you don't want any more…you're hungry again.

The Road to Hong Kong

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Your post was the perfect conclusion to my quest. I was hunting for the source of the "oolong tea" refrain, which somehow made its (nonsensical) way into my family's vocabulary when I was growing up.