An American old-timey tune. I’m not sure how, where or when it “crossed the pond” to the UK, but to my certain knowledge it has been used by ceilidh bands in the South and South-West of England for at least thirty years. It even turns up at sessions occasionally. Somewhat daggy, maybe – but a “fun” tune nonetheless, and popular with the punters.
Here is a recent rendering of the tune by the Jig Mad Wolf Celidh Band:
(The second tune in the set is Silver and Gold, a version of which is already posted to session.org).
Lyrics (by Mix O’Lydian)
When I first heard this tune (and was told the title of it) I was reminded of a Chinese resturant that I once visited where the waiters only understood your order if you gave them the number of it as shown on the menu, rather than the name of the dish in English. That mental picture was my inspiration for these lyrics (although I don’t believe that anyone has ever sung them!).
When in a Chinese restaurant,
Dish numbers you must quote;
For waiters and the chefs there,
They learn them all by rote;
If you don’t give those numbers,
Your order they’ll get wrong;
You’ll cause a Chinese breakdown,
And the staff will sing this song:
For: Chop Su-ey say “16”,
Or you’ll be out of luck;
Please tell the waiter: “45”,
If you want Peking Duck;
For Lychees please say: “76”,
And you’ll get want you want;
All orders are by numbers,
In a Chinese restaurant!
Don Messer made it famous
Those Canadians LOVE this tune!
More on this at http://www.tunearch.org/wiki/Chinese_Breakdown_%281%29