Chinese Laundry Blues

Album: Leaning on a Lamp Post (1932)
  • songfacts ®
  • "Chinese Laundry Blues" was Formby's signature tune, and the first of his "Mr Wu" songs. In the 1974 biography by Alan Randall and Ray Seaton, its genesis is given. Songwriter John Cotterill is said to have visited Formby in his dressing room when the future star was playing in Mother Goose, and picked out a tune on one of his ukuleles. John Cotterill was actually Jack Cottrell, and according to Dennis Taylor, President of the George Formby Society, Formby turned down the song initially, but when he was given the chance to record a song with Jack Hylton - who had recorded the first ever trans-Atlantic song "Shepherd Of The Hills" - he chose "Chinese Laundry Blues" as the B Side of "Doh Di Oh Doh"; the song was initially called "Chinese Blues", and its hero is a lovesick Chinese laundry worker in Limehouse, a dockside area of London which had a large Chinese population at this time.
  • Although George Formby was in every sense a family entertainer, he fell foul of the censor on more than one occasion, but not, surprisingly, with this song. Consider the following extracts from the lyrics and ask yourself why the couplets don't rhyme!

    "Now Mr. Wu, he's got a naughty eye that flickers.
    You ought to see it wobble when he's ironing ladies blouses."
    And
    "Now Mr. Wu, he's got a laundry kind of tricky,
    He'll starch my shirts and collars but he'll never touch my waistcoat." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
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