A Passage to Bangkok

Background and Commentary

This piece is “about a fun little journey to all the good places you could go to have a puff,” Alex says in an April 2012 High Times interview. “We thought it would be kind of fun to write a song about that, and Neil did it in a very eloquent way, I think. That song was probably written in a farmhouse, on an acoustic guitar, in front of a little cassette player of some sort. We would record like that and then go down in the basement and rehearse it.”

“Neil borrowed the title from E.M. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India. The song describes a dreamlike journey around the world in search of marijuana fields, with an allusion to Acapulco Gold. New Rush fans even today [2002] immediately notice that the synthesizer playing before the solo sounds like someone inhaling from a joint.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“Alex Lifeson has cited Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ as an indirect influence on ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ because of its ‘similar sort of odd-tempo arrangement to the verses’ (interview in Guitar World, June 3, 2009). He might have meant the heavily syncopated vocal melodies of both songs, in which almost all of the notes fall between beats rather than on them, creating a stretched-out effect. Or he might have meant the disjunction between the instrumental riffs and the vocal melodies, which have slower rhythms and irregular phrases that don’t line up with the riffs. In both songs, the result of this rhythmic layering is that the melody seems to float above the accompaniment, disconnected from it. This floating, disjointed effect is highly appropriate to the lyrics. . . . Zeppelin’s ‘Kahmir’ is also a travel song with otherworldly lyrics, although it is less obviously drug-related and more musically exotic. . . . The disconnect between voice and instruments in these two songs is more evocative of a state of mind than a physical place.”—Nicole Biamonte in “Contre Nous” in Rush and Philosophy

“Obviously the work of a THC connoisseur.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

Three “A Passage to Bangkok” tributes.

Lyrics

Our first stop is in Bogota
To check Colombian fields
The natives smile and pass along
A sample of their yield
Sweet Jamaican pipe dreams
Golden Acapulco nights
Then Morocco, and the East
Fly by morning light

Chorus:
We’re on the train to Bangkok
Aboard the Thailand Express
We’ll hit the stops along the way
We only stop for the best

Wreathed in smoke in Lebanon
We burn the midnight oil
The fragrance of Afghanistan
Rewards a long day’s toil
Pulling into Katmandu
Smoke rings fill the air
Perfumed by a Nepal night
The Express gets you there

Chorus

Tablature

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

Intro
Q=96

4/4
Gtr I
H Q E S S E. S E. S S S E +S S S S
|—————|—————————|
|—————|—————————|
|—————|—————————|
|—————|—————————|
|—————|-7—-5—-7s2-2-(2)-2—–|
|———–0-0-|—-0—-0————-0-0-|

E. S E. S S S E +E S S E. S E. S S S E +S S S S
|————————-|—————————-|
|————————-|—————————-|
|————————-|—————————-|
|————————-|—————————-|
|————————-|-7—-5—-7s2-2-(2)-2——|
|-8–0-7–0-8s3-3-(3)-0-0-|—-0—-0————-0-0–|

E. S E. S S S E +E S S
|—————————————|
|—————————————|
|—————————————|
|—————————————|
|—————————————|
|–8———0-7——0–8s3–3-(3)-0-0-|
|
| Gtr II
| S S S S S S S S S S E Q
|-10–10-10-10-9—-9————9——|
|–8—8–8–8-7—-7—10—10–7——|
|————————7—-7———|
|—————————————|
|—————————————|
|—————————————|

Verse
E. S E. S S S E +S S S S E. S E. S S S E +E S S
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|-7—-5—-7s2-2-(2)-2—–|—————————|
|—-0—-0————-0-0-|-8–0-7–0-8s3-3-(3)-0-0—|
|
| W W
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|
|—————————|—————————|

E. S E. S S S E +S S S S E. S E. S S S E +E S S
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|-7—-5—-7s2-2-(2)-2—–|————————-|
|—-0—-0————-0-0-|-8–0-7–0-8s3-3-(3)-0-0-|
|
| W W
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|
|—————————|————————-|

E. S E. S S S E +S S S S E. S E. S S S E +E S S
||——————————-|—————————–||
||o——————————|—————————-o||
||——————————-|—————————–||
||——————————-|—————————–||
||o–7—-5—-7s2-2—(2)-2—–|—————————-o||
||——0—-0—————0-0-|–8–0-7–0-8s3-3—(3)-0-0–||
|
| Q Q E S Q S Q Q E S Q S
||——————————-|—————————–||
||o-/8—-7—-8s==7————-|—————————-o||
||——————-8———–|-/9—-8—-9s==8————||
||——————————-|——————9———-||
||o——————————|—————————-o||
||——————————-|—————————–||

Pre-Chorus
E5 D5 E5 B5 C5 G
E +E E +E E +E E S S Q Q E Q S S
|————————-|———3–3-3-|
|————————-|———3–3-3-|
|-9-(9)S7-(7)S9-(9)S4-4-4S|=5–5–5-4–4-4-|
|-9-(9)S7-(7)S9-(9)S4-4-4S|=5–5–5-5–5-5-|
|-7-(7)S5-(5)S7-(7)S2-2-2S|=3–3–3-5–5-5-|
|————————-|———3–3-3-|

E5 D5 E5 B5 C5 G
E +E E +E E +E E S S Q Q E Q S S
|————————-|———3–3-3-|
|————————-|———3–3-3-|
|-9-(9)S7-(7)S9-(9)S4-4-4S|=5–5–5-4–4-4-|
|-9-(9)S7-(7)S9-(9)S4-4-4S|=5–5–5-5–5-5-|
|-7-(7)S5-(5)S7-(7)S2-2-2S|=3–3–3-5–5-5-|
|————————-|———3–3-3-|

Chorus
D C G/D D D DsDsG5/DG5
Q E E E E E E +E E +Q +E E E E
|——————-|————————|
|-7—–8—12—10-|-(10)/-7-(7)–(7)-8-7—|
|-7—–9—12—11-|-(11)/-7-(7)–(7)-7-7—|
|-7—-10—12—12-|-(12)/-7-(7)–(7)-7-7-5-|
|-5—————–|——-5-(5)–(5)-5-5-5-|
|——————-|————————|

F#G5 F#G5A5 E5 A5 D5
Q E E +E E E E Q E E E S S S S S S
|——————|———————–|
|——————|———————–|
|——————|——–7-7-7-7-7-7—-|
|-5–4-5-(5)-4-5-7S|=2–7—7-7-7-7-7-7—-|
|-5–4-5-(5)-4-5-7S|=2–7—5-5-5-5-5-5—-|
|-3–2-3-(3)-2-3-5S|=0–5——————|

D C G/D C5/D G/D D
Q S S E E E E E E E E E H
|———————|—————|
|-7–7-7–8—12—13-|—12—7-7—-|
|-7–7-7–9—12—12-|—12—7-7—-|
|-7–7-7-10—12—12-|—12—7-7—-|
|-5–5-5————–|——–5-5—-|
|———————|—————|

G5 F#G5 F#G5A5 N.C.
Q E E +E E E +E W +H. E S S
|——————–|———-|—————–|
|——————–|———-|—————–|
|——————–|———-|—————–|
|-5–4-5-(5)-4-5-(5)-|-7——–|-(7)————-|
|-5–4-5-(5)-4-5-(5)-|-7——–|-(7)————-|
|-3–2-3-(3)-2-3-(3)-|-5——–|-(5)——–0-0–|

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.

Tutorials

“A Passage to Bangkok” guitar cover

“A Passage to Bangkok” bass cover

“A Passage to Bangkok” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 1, 2011.

 
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