Friday, February 8, 2013

Isaan Country Roads


Following up on the subject of Isaan country roads, the first song I ever heard in Thailand was John Denver’s “Country Roads.” We were on a short tourist boat trip on the Mekong, just out of Khaeng Khut Khu, in the fall of 1999, and I believe the captain’s choice was just standard for what he played whenever a Falang was on board.

This past year, thinking that I might be forced into some karaoke, I rewrote portions of the song to sing if necessary:


“Isaan Roads”

Almost heaven: pai sa-wan
Noen Soong Pleui
In the Isaan
Thailand sway mahk

Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin’ like the breeze


(Chorus)
Thang ban nawk (country roads)
Take me home
To the place
I belong
Noen Soong Pleui
In the Isaan
Take me home
Country Roads


All my memories
They gather round her
Mung klo khao nio (fields of sweet rice)
Under Pu Khao (mountain tops)

Bright and dusty
Painted on the sky
Misty taste of whiskey
Teardrops in my eyes

(chorus repeat)

I hear her voice
In the morning hour she calls me
The radio reminds me
Of my home far away

And driving down the road
I get a feeling:
Koi yak yoo nee leuay (I want to stay here always)
Taw-lawt pai! (forever)

(chorus repeat)

Take me home
Down Country Roads (Than ban-nawk)


Riding along on the Isaan back country roads, I wouldn’t be singing this song. As a matter of fact, this song was disdained at the legendary High Country freeform radio station KFML, where I was fortunate to have a brief time spinning tunes back in 1972.

More likely, I’ll be humming the classic…



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