Classics 3 : Hong Kong Garden
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
“Siouxsie Sioux, a powerful Rebel Goddess who blazed her
own trail and we remain spellbound by the phenomenon!”
Hong Kong is currently in the news in a row about citizenship between the UK and China, which got me thinking about the classic “Hong Kong Garden”, Siouxsie & the Banshees’ debut single released on 18 August 1978 by Polydor Records, which apparently paid tribute to hard working Chinese people in the UK* and was the making of the band - and a music movement!
With the cutting-edge passion of dark-artist, Siouxsie Sioux; a powerful Rebel Goddess who blazed her own trail, fronting an ice cool band of tribal warriors the song was topped with an iconic guitar-riff conjuring the orient!
We remain spellbound by the phenomenon.
This innovative post-punk debut single catapulted them to a chart-topping lucky No 7 with such a masterful and truly unique sound that you couldn’t say no to, and which remains as impressive today! It paved the way for other successful alternative bands to hit the headlines such as The Cure, Radiohead and The Smiths.
Original video here
Song Story video here lyrics here
*”The instrumental first version, called "People Phobia", was composed by guitarist John McKay in 1977. The first time the band heard it, they were on a tour bus.
The song was named after the Hong Kong Garden Chinese take-away in Chislehurst High Street. Siouxsie Sioux was quoted as explaining the lyrics with reference to the racist activities of skinheads visiting the take-away:
I'll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the Hong Kong Garden. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We'd try and say 'Leave them alone', you know. It was a kind of tribute.
She also stated:
I remember wishing that I could be like Emma Peel from The Avengers and kick all the skinheads' heads in, because they used to mercilessly torment these people for being foreigners. It made me feel so helpless, hopeless and ill.” – Wikipedia
And from this, the everyday trials of a Chinese takeaway were transformed to the fantastic...
Chris Watson and Sara Vian