Kenny G's 'Going Home' Is the Signal to Leave in China

05/12/2014 at 08:30 AM EDT

'Going Home' by Kenny G Used to Send People Home in China
Kenny G
Larry Busacca/Getty
Kenny G's 1989 hit "Going Home" is many things. Soft, mellifluous, dated.

It's also a ubiquitous social cue in China that asks – nay, commands – patrons of a variety of settings to literally go home when they hear its wistful melody, reports The New York Times.

No one interviewed for the story about the mystery of Kenny G's strange presence in Chinese society could explain why whenever the strains of "Going Home" grace the speakers of a given institution – be it mall, library, or finance building – it's time to close up shop and leave. In Beijing's famous Panjiayuan Antiques Market, the song plays on a loop for the last hour and a half of business, the paper reports. It's just been that way for as long as most of them can remember.

The Chinese apparently love Kenny G, but no one's able to offer an explanation of when or how "Going Home" became the country's official "closing time" anthem. (Maybe they all saw that episode of The Office where Andy attempts to enact a similar tradition with the likewise on-the-nose "Closing Time.")

Kenny G himself doesn't know the answer – nor does he want one. "I don't ask questions because I like to leave some of the mystery," he told the Times via phone.

That said, he naturally plays the tune whenever he performs in China. But, he notes, "I save it for last. Because I don't want everyone going home early."

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