Murray Head: One Night in Bangkok Meaning
Song Released: 1984
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One Night in Bangkok Lyrics
And the city don't know that the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner
Time flies, doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in...
This song comes from the musical "Chess." The lyrics were written by Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber's old partner, and the music was written by Benny and Bjorn of Abba.
The musical is about a world chess championship match which is taking place in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The singer is one of the chess masters who's going to be competing. And the song describes his feelings as he looks over the city of Bangkok.
Millions of people visit Bangkok each year, for very different reasons. Some come to see the ancient temples and statues of Buddha and the gods. Millions more come to visit prostitutes or watch live sex shows, since Bangkok has a famous red light district and lots of "Sex tourism."
But the singer makes it very clear that NEITHER of those things interests him in the least. He's an arrogant intellectual who ONLY cares about chess. To him, religion and sex are trivial and boring, and only the intellectual competition of chess is truly exciting.
The singer is saying, "Millions of people flock to this city, and think it's wonderful. But to me, one city is just the same as another. I came to win a chess match, and that's my only priority."
anonymous Nov 20th, 11:31pm report
Astorian is wrong! Its about sex and the chess peices are metaphors for the game of life. "If you're lucky then the girl's a she" and not a shemale, aka "ladyboy" as they are known in Asia.
Watch Hangover 2 and you will get it. Why in the world would you go to Thailand to play chess regardless of a tournament?!?
anonymous Jun 23rd, 2019 6:19pm report
I like the use of double meanings, i.e. The kind of "mating" I am contemplating or the "Queens" would not excite you
anonymous Apr 10th, 2018 4:38pm report
everything in the world is the chess game, and siam will be the nation to witness a large puzzle piece fall into place.
the sex and temple are allusions to sinners in the world, and what happens either you have an angel to get you out, or if you ignore the angel, the devil will be the one next to you... theres more in there, its just beyond me.. these are what i glean innately tho.
anonymous Apr 5th, 2013 4:50am report
Is there room for the main character in this song to be tempted by the night life of Bankok? He takes a ridigid stance that his interest is the thrill of the chess game but also says he feels an angel sliding next to him and feels the devil walking next to him? Could the angel be a seductive girl? Could he be caught between two things the vulnerability of a seductive city and its sex trade and the need to stay in his head to win the chess game. Is the game an allusion to the game of life with its logic and its dark side?
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