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Kenny G Song Is Mysteriously Everywhere in China

Smooth sax man's 1989 "Going Home" has long signaled time to go home

Every new beginning, it has been said, comes from some other beginning’s end. And so, though Kenny G’s 1989 hit “Going Home” might not exactly be the type of au courant track that, say, St. Vincent would put on a FACT playlist, it has found new life soundtracking closing time throughout China. As The New York Times reports, the adult-contemporary saxophone slow jam — not to be confused with Mr. Kenneth Gorelick’s 1988 tune “Home” — has been played throughout China for years to signal that it’s time to, well, go home.

A manager of Beijing’s Panjiayuan Antiques Market, which plays “Going Home” on a loop in the final hour and a half before shutting its doors, told the Times the store has used Kenny G’s track since 2000. The manager couldn’t give a reason. She’s quoted as asking, “Isn’t it just played everywhere?” From subways to airports, from schools to weddings, from gyms to cafés, all throughout the People’s Republic this particular recording is a nationally understood way of saying everybody should leave. But nobody, it seems, knows why.

Kenny G told the Times he once heard “Going Home” in Tiananmen Square back in the ’90s. He doesn’t get paid royalties for his ubiquity in China, but he’s refreshingly diplomatic about it. “Do I wish I could get paid for everything? Of course,” the Guinness record-holding soprano saxophonist (has anyone introduced the man to Jack White?) is quoted as saying. “But I surrender to the fact that that’s the way things go there.”

K-G — can we call him K-G? — doesn’t understand how his track ended up getting played everywhere in China at quitting time, either, but he said that when he plays there, “I save it for last, because I don’t want everyone going home early.” One could uncharitably observe that this music would probably empty out plenty of rooms in the United States, too, but it’s worth noting: On 1989’s 73-minute Kenny G Live, which features a guest vocal from a certain Michael Bolton, “Going Home” is the opening track. Take us home, Kenny.