I came up with the beginnings of a melody one night in Bangkok (no, not the Murray Head song, nice as it would be to claim some credit for that). It was a couple of weeks into my backpacking-around-the-world adventure with Andrea back in 1993. The tune took shape over the next couple of months but I couldn’t ever figure out what it was about.
In my head it’s full of the smells of Bangkok. Clouds of blue smoke from hundreds of motorbikes. Mouth- (and eye-) watering, chili-laced, mystery-meatballs from streetstalls. Rancid fish oil in the stale, recycled air in stairwells. Stagnant water in the little canals they call khlongs. Open sewers. So many powerful images and I couldn’t figure out a way to connect those memories with the melody.
A couple of months ago, I had an important realisation:
If a song doesn’t have words after 17 years, maybe it’s an instrumental.
I sat down at the piano and worked out the chords, wrote a chart and dropped it in front of Kym and Dale the next day, part way through our first gig at Woodstock Winery and Along The Khlong (Bangkok Streets) got it’s first airing. It’s a neat tune and I’m really happy with it.
Hopefully I won’t need to wait the full 17 years next time.