Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Welcome (AGAIN!) To The Hotel California

Fads are fads and favorites are favorites wherever you go, and easy access to the internet has made our world even smaller than it was, say 25 years ago. Home made video clips uploaded to the the web from anywhere can "go viral" (as it's become known) and boast millions of views - or hits - in a matter of hours. It can be both amazing and troublesome in the same thought.

While technology can make the transfer of information instantaneous, the information itself can get stuck in the Twilight Zone. A good example are email jokes and syrupy sentimental wishes you may have received to your inbox today that you very well may have seen two years ago, and originally five years before that.

Another good example is the Eagle's song "Hotel California". It was a nice song when I first heard it in 1976, and in the 34 years since then thousands of versions have been done by artists across a wide spectrum: Rascal Flatts, Macedonian singer Igor Dzambazov and American Idol novelty William Hung, to name a few. I'm not sick to death of it, but it dropped of my "happy to hear it begin" list long ago.

Fast forward to 2003. I'm sitting in an outdoor restaurant in Isaan in the Northeast of Thailand, having dinner with a few friends and noticing I'm the only farang there. Everyone around me is speaking Thai. I'm savoring this moment as a young man with a guitar around his neck walks up to a microphone, plugs into his small, care-worn amplifier and begins to pick the opening to a song. Yes, that song. The whole thing. Although he only got a little over half of the lyrics correct in his earnest effort, many others there seemed to recognize what he was pouring his heart into singing and enjoyed it. Truth be told, I enjoyed it, too. It was...creative English, and that alone made it fun.

It's a rather distinctive sounding song and I've since heard it many, many times there; sometimes coming from bars filled with farang old enough to remember it's initial radio play 30+ years ago, and sometimes in bars frequented by locals. I've heard it sung in Thai and with any number of variations to the English lyrics - some more humorous than others.

The most unusual version I've heard so far was one weekend afternoon out at Chatuchak/Jatujak weekend market, where I heard the guy in the clip up top today. He was just finishing it up as I got over to him and asked him to play just the beginning of it again for me. Having just played it he wasn't too keen to launch into it again, but he started his taped accompaniment, and I caught what I could of it.


Anonymous said...

honestly, If you hadn't written that he was gonna play 'Hotel California' .. I don't think I would have recognized it. I give him lots of props for trying.. and judging from the self-satisfied smile on his face when finished.. I think he thinks he nailed it.

khunbaobao said...

Many of the renditions I've heard in Thailand have been "loose adaptations", so I can see how you might have missed the opening bars before the singing begins!

John said...

What a coincidence. I was having dinner with my father last night at a restaurant on Surawong Road, and the duo playing live music closed with that particular track. For what it's worth, my favorite version is the Spanish flamenco rendition by Gipsy Kings.


p.s. 1976 was 34 years ago ;-)

khunbaobao said...

Thanks, John - math has always been a weak spot with me. Not sure how much of a coincidence, though...I kind of think the HC song itself "may never leave"! I suppose that's preferable to that Cheeky Girl song LOL