One Special Period In Thailand
I feel it is a rare privilege to have been able to experience a certain time in Thailand that has given me experiences and gifts that can never be taken away. It was a period of growth and gratitude that came together so unexpectedly to give me many years of great music from a wonderful Band that has become a legend in the annals of Rock.
The date escapes me now – but I know it was early in 2000 when I took Natalise to dinner at World Trade Centre in Bangkok … nothing really flash, just a small Italian restaurant where we probably ordered pizza, while a DVD had just started to play a concert by The Eagles … the legendary “Hell Freezes Over”. I sat transfixed at the video playing on the large TV and thought “How lucky can one be?”
The Eagles had always been one of my favourite groups through the various permutations of personnel who made up the band – but the two founders (Don Henley on Drums and Glenn Frey on lead vocals and guitar) were the two constants in the group. Both of them were former members of Linda Ronstadt’s band before forming The Eagles.
It was quite strange because I had been following a group called Poco, that played great Country Rock and had a really good Bass player called Timothy B. Schmit. Do you remember “Rose Of Cimmaron” by Poco? At that time Randy Meisner was playing bass with The Eagles – but as personnel do change in bands, Timothy B. Schmit was to end up playing with The Eagles on “Hell Freezes Over”.
Other personnel with The Eagles included Joe Walsh on lead electric guitar, sometimes playing bottleneck slide; Then there was Bernie Leadon on electric lead guitar and Don Felder also on electric lead guitar, electric pedal steel and classical guitar. On “Hell Freezes Over” we were lucky to see Joe Walsh and Don Felder together. I won’t even touch on the acrimony that led to Don Felder being sacked from The Eagles – I was just so happy to see Don Felder and Joe Walsh together again on “Hell Freezes Over”.
Of course, the complete genealogy of The Eagles was much more involved than this simple account – but that “Hell Freezes Over” DVD and CD were destined to haunt me in both Bangkok and in Chiang Mai, from 2000 right up until late 2007. In many ways, I guess they still do.
Natalise and I bought both of the discs and the Song Book featuring all the chord charts for all of the songs featured on the discs – and we took them to Australia when Nat was given her first Tourist Visa. We were staying in a dump of a rooming house owned by my Daughter’s boyfriend David. That CD of The Eagles played a large part in our lives back then, when I started to learn all of those songs from the CD. Each Sunday evening I would play at the old restaurant venue (where I worked before going to Thailand) with a couple of other guitar pickers, playing for peanuts.
When Nat’s Visa was near to expiring, we went back to Bangkok where I tried a venue or two on guitar in the Sukhumvit stretch before we went up to Prasat to have some time with Nat’s family. Some of this history has been written in previous subs of mine when I was using the alias of Chalermchai.
As life panned out, Nat, her two children and I stayed together until October 2004 when we separated at her request. No need to repeat all of the details here as it has been documented previously in my subs – but suffice it to say that I was still playing Eagles’ material and teaching up until the time I elected to take advice of my friends and took my trusty Martin guitar and went back to Bangkok on my own. Of course I had always liked Nat’s family and got along well with them, right from the start – so I made it a point to always call in to see them whenever I was in Bangkok. Nat’s elder sister could not understand what had got into Natalise so, after chatting with Nat’s family in Bangkok, I decided to go up to Chiang Mai for a few nights at The Sheraton Hotel. On that third night in Chiang Mai was when I met the lady who would rule my heart from that night onward. I loved her so much … and I still do.
We went together to Bangkok and stayed for 10 nights there and formed a bond that was to last until July 2007. Back again in Chiang Mai, we checked in at Veerachai Court for a month, before moving to Traveller Inn, where we stayed for around a week before moving to Thapae Place Hotel. It was strange because, although we lived at Thapae Place Hotel, we nearly always had breakfast at Traveller Inn. The service and food was always fine there and so it was also at Thapae Place Hotel. It just became a habit to walk through to Loi Kroh and Traveller Inn.
One morning, while having breakfast, the staff put a DVD on to play on the big TV and, guess what? It was The Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over”. We watched that so many times and sometimes it was alternated with The Scorpions’ “Acoustica Live In Lisbon Portugal”. I could never get tired of watching both of those DVDs – they seemed to become part of our very existence during the time we stayed together in Chiang Mai. Even the lyrics seemed to be appropriate to our present circumstances at that time. It was a truly magic period that transformed my life completely. So many times I have wished I was still there with her.
Quite often we would visit Huay Kaew Shopping Centre to check out DVDs for sale and we bought a copy of “Hell Freezes Over” on DVD and were also lucky to find “Scorpions Acoustica Live In Lisbon Portugal”. We had a DVD player of our own and would often watch discs from a comprehensive and growing collection of both Thai and Farang.
Two Sunday evenings ago, here in Brisbane, local TV Channel 7 played an interview with Don Henley – The Eagles’ anchor-man, founder and drummer – where the subject was mostly the recent death of Glenn Frey – a very sad event that will long be felt by all of us who have come to love The Eagles so much. I do not believe any other rock group has given so much pleasure over so long a time as our beloved Eagles.
Hey, back in the day, don’t you remember going into almost any bar in Thailand and there would be an Eagles’ track playing either on a juke box or on the House sound system? There was something reassuring about it – almost a feeling that it would be like that forever.
It would be nice if that were so … but even Thailand itself is forever changing. Gee, aren’t we all? But one thing that I wish would never have changed was my time in Chiang Mai with the person who changed me forever and who I wish was still with me right now. I still have the music but it is nowhere near enough. The most important part is now missing.
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