“Life On The Flip Side: Thoughts On Thailand”

“Life On the Flipside: Thoughts On Thailand”

“I’m gonna open, open up the throttle
I’m gonna drink straight, straight from the bottle
I’ll sleep when I’m dead, so quiet the cello
I Didn’t Come Here To Get Mellow”

– Dan Tedesco (2013)

This, my friends, is what I’ve ultimately brought back from the flip side. If any of you have spent time traveling abroad, or just traveling in general, you might understand where I’m coming from. There’s a famous quote that says, “The more you travel the less you know”. The juice that quenches a thirst for the unknown is addictive stuff. As is being immersed in a world that operates very differently than your own. You never view your home the same and you, yourself, never go back the same.

The excerpt above is from a brand new song entitled, “I Didn’t Come Here To Get Mellow”. I’m putting the final touches on a Pocket Change release which will be posted later this month (see February’s broadcast schedule for details). The title showed itself in a couple specific instances:

1. A Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai. I was told if I like spicy food to put 5 Thai chiles in my Tom Kha soup. One of the classmates quickly told me I was insane to do it, to which I replied, “I didn’t come here to get mellow…”
2. On a speedboat headed out to the Phi Phi Islands amidst rough surf in the Andaman Sea. We were told they were going to check the waves and turn back if things got too wild. I just kept thinking to myself that they better not turn this boat around because, “I didn’t come here to get mellow…”

I’ve always favored experience over possession. I avoid hotels on the road, for economic reasons of course, but also because I’d rather meet local people and see how life in that particular town happens. If I had a hotel I’d just sit there until showtime, go back after, and leave in the morning. No adventure there and where there is adventure life, and songs, can be found.

Our time in Thailand was divided amongst the high-energy of Bangkok, the calm and cooler region of Chiang Mai and the uber-tropical paradise of Phuket and its surrounding islands. What struck me in all of these places was the immense kindness of the people. Of course, westerners with money to spend can bring a certain gleam to the eye but there was a sincerity amongst the people we met that was endearing. Also, as a result of their population density and competition for business, things operate on a more rudimentary, basic fashion. You have families that literally go the store, by produce, come home and have a “restaurant” on their sidewalk. No business licenses or health code checks. There was something very refreshing about that after you see, especially in Chicago, how many hurdles and how much red tape you have to wade through at times to accomplish a very simple task. I don’t bring this up to claim it to be better, but the fundamentals of it did affect me and will no doubt surface in my songwriting.

In Bangkok there was the pathological museum at the Siriraj Hospital. Malformed babies preserved in glass boxes on display. Diseased organs. Severed limbs. Full bodies of criminals preserved and displayed. And you know what…..a school class of 10-11 year-olds in uniform came through on a field trip. You simply would never see A) a museum of such nature in the US B) 10 year-old school kids checking it out on a field trip. I personally found the museum incredibly fascinating, and the lack of censorship that you find outside of the US is always very interesting to me.

Another example – Chiang Mai. Bareback elephant riding. No waivers. No insurance. You just walk up to some elephants. They teach you a few commands. The elephant kneels down and off you go. The freedom that exists should you be capable of not making very poor decisions for yourself is very wild.

You travel 6k miles, some 23 hours one-way. You walk on ground that is completely on the other side of the world, literally and figuratively. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come here to get mellow.

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