Readers' Submissions

Riding With The Windows Down And The Radio Up

  • Written by BKKSteve
  • February 3rd, 2007
  • 14 min read

By BKKSW

I’ve written before about enjoying US and European programming for both television and radio while in the LOS but I’ve never put it all together in one coherent post. If anyone is interested some day I’ll put together a “how to” submission on how to watch your favourite TV shows, movies, radio programs, and what not.. in Thailand either ‘time shifted” or in real time depending on the desired quality. I don’t watch commercials any more. Do you realize that a typical hour long series show such as “24” or “Lost” is 40 minutes of ‘show’ and 20 minutes of commercials? I watch ANY selections of US and UK programming I want in a very high quality wide screen signal which quality wise sits somewhere between HDTV and SDTV, stripped of commercials, with 5.1 sound, and often within a hour of it’s first running on the east coast. This means I often watch the newest shows a full hour before those on the west coast get to watch them. Usually it doesn’t matter, I “collect” the shows I want and choose which ones I watch and when depending on my mood. The point is the programming is free, easy to get, and a joy to watch. I’ll also often enjoy my favourite news stations, home repair shows, and other shows in real time straight from the USA.. in Thailand. Real time programming requires a compromise in video resolution which is why I restrict it to these kinds of shows, but it’s available. Radio shows and music (the topic of this submission) are also available in real time or time shifted. With minimal work and a bit of effort you can enjoy all of this programming while in Thailand with high quality signals and no commercials. If there’s interest I’ll detail how all this is done. For now lets go for a ride and listen to some music.

It’s 10am in Bangkok and I’m driving in my SUV up Thanon Petchaburi and because the weather is nice I’ve lowered the windows and turned up the 7 speaker MP3 6 disk player and Trace Adkins’s rough voice is belting out the words to Honky Tonk Badonkadonk (no, that’s not a Thai word) and the tune and voice are so different than anything Thai that hundreds of people are actually stopping and turning to hear where the beat is coming from. Yep, the crowds who normally fill the sidewalks and streets, the motorsai drivers, taxi drivers, passengers in the sung-taos, all of them turn towards the SUV, stop, and you can see their feet start tapping out the beat to Trace Adkins deep voice and strong guitar. Soon they start lining up along the sidewalks and roads in organized lines and start stamping their feet and swaying their hips in a pretty good semblance of a country line-dance. Some start singing out loud and others just sway to the music and clap their hands. Over the music I hear a voice call out “TURN IT UP SOME” and the music starts in earnest:

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk

Turn it up some
Alright boys, this is her favorite song
You know that right
So, if we play it good and loud
She might get up and dance again
Ooh, she put her beer down
Here she comes
Here she comes
Left left left right left
Whoo

Husslers shootin' eightball
Throwin' darts at the wall
Feelin' damn near 10 ft. tall
Here she comes, Lord help us all
Ol' T.W.'s girlfriend done slapped him outta his chair
Poor ole boy, it ain't his fault
It's so hard not to stare
At that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
That honky tonk badonkadonk
(Aww son)

Now Honey, you can't blame her
For what her mama gave her
You ain't gotta hate her
For workin' that money-maker
Band shuts down at two
But we're hangin' out till three
We hate to see her go
But love to watch her leave
With that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
With that honky tonk badonkadonk
(Ooh, that's what I'm talkin' bout right there, honey)

We don't care bout the drinkin'
Barely listen to the band
Our hands, they start a shakin'
When she gets the urge to dance
Drivin' everybody crazy
You think you fell in love
Boys, you better keep your distance
You can look but you can't touch
That honkey tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
That honky tonk badonkadonk

That honky tonk badonkadonk
Yeah, that honky tonk badonkadonk

(That's it, right there boys, that's why we do what we do
It ain't for the money, it ain't for the glory, it ain't for the free whiskey
It's for the badonkadonk)

I just smile with the satisfaction that only comes with forcing your choice of music onto innocent bystanders who only moments before were culturally ignorant about country music and then stepping on the accelerator moving past lines and lines of young Thai women dressed in the “office girl uniform” of white blouses and short tight black skirts who are now swaying and stomping and singing their hearts out, and out of the corner of my eye I see the big video board in front of the bank steaming the words to the song karaoke style. What did I start here?

Soon traffic is moving right along and I leave then in the dust and they’re quickly forgotten. Trace sings on through a few more songs and getting a bit tired of the same style I start flipping through the folders on the MP3 disks to see what else I have. It usually surprises people who first listen to music while I’m driving with me that my tastes in music are varied and odd. Trace Adkins is the past, I just saw the folder labeled “Styx” and from the far reaches of my mind tunes and lyrics I haven’t heard in ages start beating my memory into organized streams. My pupils start to dilate and my pulse quickens as I punch up “You’re Not Dead Yet” and move the volume past 50.. soon the tempo is 10x faster, acoustic guitars are now electric guitars, and the rough understandable words are replaced by fast paced words screamed out almost in a shout. The tune is addicting, no way I’ll ever forget these lyrics and here they come… “Well I was born to late to be a Rolling Stone…” “I’m not dead yet” “A girl in the bar wants to grab me by the balls” and everything has changed.

Thai men everywhere, in buses, pushing food carts, hanging from power poles, and even the boys in brown.. start pulling dark tinted sunglasses out of their bags and pockets and putting them on they then sweep their hair straight back, plant their feet shoulder width apart, and start playing the air guitar! The office girls go wild. They pull their short black tight skirts up a few more inches, kick off their heels, and unbutton their white blouses well below their breasts allowing a wide variety of interesting brassieres to show, everything from retro Hello Kitty’s’ to Hello Nippy’s.. purple, pink, white and black.. reaching quickly under their skirt they rip off their panties and in one deft coordinated motion throw them into the air just as the words get in sync and the wheels start to turn and it’s raining panites:

Not Dead Yet

Well I was born too late to be a Rolling Stone
I don't know Jerry Lee I never me John & Yoko
Standin' with a strat, I'm rock 'n' roll's bastard son
Go out get drunk get wild have fun
I don't got a million dollars don't drive a Cadillac
Give me half a chance 'cause I'm not dead yet

I'm not dead yet
I'm not dead yet
I'm a mad dog fighting with the wall against my back
You better get a bigger gun I'm not dead yet

I've been machine-gunned handgunned hijacked left for dead
Dive-bombed napalmed nuclear warheaded
Dropped from a jet plane with no parachute
Shot by a firing squad & raped by a business suit
I'm dancin' on a land mine baby one leg left
And I can still crawl and I'm not dead yet

Well you're bigger tougher meaner rougher
Dirtier and uglier and sneakier and trickier
You wanna shoot me with a gun, cut me with a knife
Take your bare hands baby rip out my eyes
You knocked me to the floor then you bit me in the neck, well
Hit me again cause I'm not dead yet

I'm not dead yet, no no
I'm not dead yet
Well I'm a wild card hidin' in the middle of the deck
You better get a bigger gun, you better get a bigger gun

Well there's a mugger in the alley there's a sniper in the hall
There's a girl at the bar wants to get me by my balls
And the hangman is hangin', if I autograph the noose
Lee Harvey Oswald's brother's on the loose
Mafia hit man with a bullet for my neck
Some day he's gonna get me but I'm not dead yet

I'm not dead yet
I'm not dead yet
I'm a wild card hidin' in the middle of the deck
You better get a bigger gun, you better get your poison pen

I can’t help but feel that by the time I get home TV5 will have crews all up and down Thanon Petchaburi filming line dancing and dirty dancing and the good people of Thailand embracing western country and rock and roll music and getting naked on the streets. I just hope they don’t accidentally film me driving away from the scenes and deport me the same day. The thought of deportation sobers me up a bit and I reach over and hit the switches for bringing the windows back up and it’s as if by magic the city gets back to normal and the mayhem confines itself to inside my personal vehicle..

In all seriousness, sometimes I laugh to myself at the contrast of what I play on my stereo to what I see out of my windshield. I record 4-5 popular talk shows off the internet automatically each day and before going out I drag and drop a few of them over to a CDRW to listen to while stuck in the traffic I know I’m going to be stuck in.. and looking out the window at the dense traffic, food cart vendors, homeless laying on the street, cops directing traffic, buses belching thick black smoke.. all of the normal sights and sounds of Bangkok.. and I hit the “play” button and Rush Limbaugh starts talking in his smooth rich orderly voice as he takes on the left wing conspiracies or Tom Leykis discusses the “issues you really care about “ (usually things like why virgins lie about being virgins, or how women are parasites, and even why you shouldn’t pay for dinner until your 10th date) or Michael Savage starts screaming about the enemy within.. and all of a sudden.. for 30-40 minutes at a time.. these shows take me back to my home country and the issues of the day become mine, issues which normally wouldn’t affect me at all. For short blocks of time I’m stuck on the 405 freeway because the 710 is backed up once again, instead of sitting behind five baht buses waiting to make a u-turn while steams of Thai people run between cars and lanes of traffic to get on/off these buses because they didn’t bother to pull over to the side of the road and pick them up.

I’ve always believed that certain senses are tied more strongly to certain mental attributes than others. Smells for instance I believe are the strongest sense for recalling past memories. I can still remember being a boy of about 8 years and having to deliver my newspapers in this certain nursing home. I’d always try and hold my breath and run through the carpeted hallways leaving papers their eyes could no longer see well enough to read but never making it all the way and being forced to breath in that putrid smell of the old. Or the creosol impregnated pilings as I walked under my home town pier, and cotton candy freshly spun. Nothing gives our brains the seek time and random access abilities into our organic data banks that certain smells from the past give. Yet, tunes and lyrics from the past easily take us back to eras in our life often long forgotten. I could probably keep writing for years simply by bringing up my Itunes and listening to a song and writing about the memories where the song took me. Cat Stevens “Morning has Broken” reminds me of a scouting trip in the desert when I was 14, while “Seasons in the Sun” brings back very fond memories of long summers spent on the Santa Monica beach in the company of my childhood friends as we’d surf and swim from sunup to sundown. The Beatles “Get Back” plays and I see my Father pounding the steering wheel of the station wagon in frustration as we’re stuck on the Hollywood freeway one Sunday afternoon because the Beatles were playing at the Hollywood Bowl and traffic was at a standstill and people were standing outside their cars listening to the Beatle’s music reach us far below. Dad liked Elvis. “Here comes Santa Claus” plays and I remember a broken and sad man who never drank, now drunk and ringing bells outside our home on the first Christmas eve since the divorce.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m damaging my brain by taking in the smells of Bangkok and the tunes of the US and UK at the same time. Regardless, the combination is powerful and I greatly appreciate the technology which allows me to enjoy western programming and Asian culture together. A strange combination to be sure. Inside our cars we orchestrate our music, the issues of the day, relive memories from the past, and shape our very own small part of the world. Sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes I want everyone around me to share in my memories and my feelings and “TURN IT UP SOME” and join me in listening to my past and present. So I roll down the windows and turn the music up..

Until next time..

Stickman's thoughts:

Isn't it funny how just one song, or one piece of music, can make long lost memories come flooding back.