Kenny G in China: It's Closing Time

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There was once a Gary Larson “The Far Side” cartoon titled “Charlie Parker in Hell.” There was Bird, the iconic bebop innovator, writhing in perpetual agony as the radio played only New Age music.

My version of the cartoon might be having to repeatedly listen to Kenny G’s 1999 hit instrumental song “Going Home.”

But I may be in the minority. Kenny G is ubiquitous in China. Millions of Chinese hear the song throughout China when shops, stores, shopping malls, train stations, fitness centers and restaurants close. It is the alternative national anthem for China, whose population as of February 2014 was heaving towards one and a half billion people.

There, hearing the song produces a Pavlovian response: it’s closing time, time to go home. Most of the people who’ve heard the song don’t know where it came from, who the artist is, or anything else. They only know that it’s time to leave. <!-- missing image -->