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Putting The Pieces Together

  • Written by Ishiro
  • December 30th, 2014
  • 7 min read




Yesterday and today I have been scouring YouTube, looking for Thai clips that I can send to a dear friend of mine in London. Doing so has thrown me right back to where I was nearly 2 years ago – it's like I will never be able to escape from the influence of Thai music. That actually makes me happy because it is something I have lived for a long time and the act of turning my back on Thai music was quite painful. Even though I do not play guitar very much now, I still love to listen to the music – so I will go back to where I was, 2 years and more ago, to do what I enjoy so much.

Things have changed dramatically on YouTube regarding the content of various Thai artists that are available to download – so many have been withdrawn, probably due to the DRM (Digital Rights Management) laws and the issues of Copyright. I was particularly looking for a good quality clip of the song Teur mar-jark-nhai – เธอ – มาจากไหน (You Come From Where?). The song was recorded by Asanee Chotikul from the group Asanee and Wasan – and it was featured in the movie "Beautiful Boxer" – telling the life story of Noong Thoom Parinya Charoenphol – who was born to be a kathoey and who became one of Thailand's most famous Muay Thai fighters. Asanee Suwan played the lead role of Thoom Parinya and her mentor and trainer in the Muay Thai camp (Pi Chart) was played by Sorapong Chatree. Sarawuth Tangchit played the part of Nong Toom (as a young boy). The film was directed by Singapore-based Ekachai Uekrongtham.

I was lucky enough to be able to find this clip from parts of the movie.

The big problem I find with looking for Thai music on YouTube is that you really do need to be able to read Thai script to find what you are looking for. Searching with the title in English transliteration is almost useless.

Asanee and Wasan would probably have to be my very favourite Thai group – great stage presence and personality that really sucks in the audience – the love is palpable – and the stinging lead guitar from Asanee cuts right to the bone.

I was first introduced to this film (made in 2004) when the Thai version was played for me – and, from that moment onward, I was hooked. I have both the Thai release and the English release so I can play it for friends who do not understand Thai. I never get tired of watching this film – and, somehow, it ties me to the Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai area – a place I have come to regard as very special.

In my first visit to Chiang Mai, back in 2004, I was not very much impressed as I was too busy trying to compare it to Bangkok – a city that I identified with from my first visit to Thailand. Comparisons are unfair – as I soon found out to be true – because Chiang Mai has a special way of captivating one if you only let it happen. Of course it helps if you have a special someone to share the journey of discovery – and I was very lucky on that front.

When I look at how Chiang Mai Airport has grown, I think how small it was when I first flew into there from Bangkok. The new International extension is very modern and efficient – but, somehow, I still wish it was as it used to be. Call me a Luddite – but I liked it when it was a simple little airport with none of the sophistication of the present – where things happened easily and there were no problems associated with baggage collection or check-ins.

Getting back to the availability of particular clips on YouTube, it seems that most of the restriction on availability of clips by certain artists seems to apply to those released by the GMM Grammy label. It appears to me that the restrictions are not so rigid when applied to those artists who record for RS label – and that is fortunate because I do like many of the artists who record for RS – Parn Thanaporn being the most prominent on my list of preferences. A newer artist – Ying Thitikarn – has also caught my attention with her release of the track Yorm jum-non-fah-din – ยอมจำนนฟ้าดิน (Surrender To heaven And Earth) – released in March 2009 on the album Pleng-Ruk Jark-Jai-Ying (Song Of Love From Heart Of Woman).

Unfortunately, this clip is not as good as the originals that I have on disc – but I am no longer prepared to upload Thai discs onto YouTube. It really is a shame because there is so much quality material that has been recorded by Thai artists – but Copyright seems to be a very big issue at the moment. If I could upload the clips of choice I would send them to London as attachments but that is out of the question seeing that most clips (even as flv) are 18-25 MB – way too large for an attachment.

I have all the originals on VCD and DVD of all of the following artists: "Bird" Thongchai McIntyre; Sek Loso; Asanee and Wasan; Ae Sasikarn; "Amp" Saowaluck Lelaputra; "Beau" Sunita Leetikul: Da Endorphine; Palmy; Parn Thanaporn; Ying Thitikarn; Clash; Potato; Bodyslam; Mai Charoenpura; Calories Bla Bla; plus a big bunch of discs from the period around 2004, including Marsha Wattanapanich; Lanna Commins; Silly Fools along with many compilations of the best from GMM and the best from RS.

There is nothing I would like more than to load a pile of these onto YouTube so that others, who may not have the wherewithal to obtain the original discs, may enjoy this talent – but it seems as if that is not allowed under the new regulations. It's not as if this would take away much of the revenue from the artists concerned – and, if certain people decided they liked a particular artist, it is possible that they could order the originals on VCD or DVD from <http://www.ethaicd.com/> and they would be mailed to the purchaser very swiftly. I have done this many times when I have been out of Thailand and away from the CD/DVD stores.

It seems unfortunate that Thailand has certain restrictions on entertainment media because I am absolutely certain that many Westerners would Buy Thai movies if the restrictions were eased so that sub-titles were allowed to be included on the discs. Some have been shown on SBS Television occasionally – but I think that SBS have done the sub-titles on their own.

The way I see it, the future looks bleak for the DVD and VCD, as we move further and further toward on-line viewing – and, with it, loss of control of what we wish to watch – and when.

I have a Thai lady friend in my city who founded a Thai Video Shop around 2000 – and it was very successful – but she no longer finds any demand for the commom old CD, VCD and even DVDs of music – so many Thais in this country now have satellite connection to The Land Of Smiles. Her big thing has been Thai "soapies" – but even that demand is falling away as more people connect to satellite. Perhaps I should follow them – although I would think the quality of my discs would be far better than what comes from satellite.

From here on, I will be back-tracking to all of the material that I enjoyed so much and for so long – times change and so do tastes – and modern music is so changeable and unpredictable with where it will go. Give me the past 15 years of Thai pop music and that will be a new voyage of rediscovery that I know I shall enjoy once again.