"One Night In Bangkok" as written by Tim Rice, Benny Goran Bror Andersson and Bjoern K. Ulvaeus....
Bangkok, Oriental setting
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 it
All change don't you know that when you
Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland or the Philippines or Hastings or
or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city

Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town

Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite

Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist
Whose every move's among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha

And thank God I'm only watching the game controlling it

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So you better go back to your bars, your temples, your massage
parlours

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me


Lyrics submitted by Petaphysika

"One Night in Bangkok" as written by Tim Rice, Benny Goran Bror Andersson, Bjoern K. Ulvaeus

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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One Night In Bangkok song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI think he is mixing chess with what's going on around him....

    "Bangkok, Oriental setting
    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 it
    All change -- don't you know that when you
    Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

    It's Iceland -- or the Philippines -- or Hastings -- or --
    or this place!"

    He is there for the chess match...

    "One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
    The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
    You'll find a god in every golden cloister
    And if you're lucky then the god's a she
    I can feel an angel sliding up to me"

    Here he is using metaphor...

    One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
    The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free"

    If you win you are the best...

    The bars are temples...but the pearls...the prize in the oysters..the girls..are not..

    You'll find a god in every golden cloister
    And if you're lucky then the god's a she
    I can feel an angel sliding up to me

    The god is a beautiful girl..you'll find one in every bar...and if you are lucky the girl is really a girl...not a he-she...which thailand is notorious for...

    the angel is a girl...that is starting to move to him to pick him up...

    "One town's very like another
    When your head's down over your pieces, brother"

    He doesn't notice the beauty of the city...he is only there for chess

    "[COMPANY:]
    It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
    To be looking at the board, not looking at the city"

    He should be looking at the city and not be so into the chess match

    "[THE AMERICAN:]
    Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town --"

    He is saying...big deal all cities are the same..

    "[COMPANY:]
    Tea, girls, warm, sweet
    Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite"

    Instead of playing...why don't you get a girl?

    "[THE AMERICAN:]
    Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist
    Whose every move's among the purest
    I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine"

    He is not from there and he his moves are on the chess board and is not interested in the girls..

    "COMPANY:
    One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble"

    Haha...

    Not much between despair and ecstasy
    One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
    Can't be too careful with your company
    I can feel the devil walking next to me"

    Again...Metaphor here....the straight forward meaning is...in Bangkok the difference between winning and losing...isn't much...and no matter how good you are, you can lose...and the don't underestimate your opponent...

    but...he is also saying in bangkok there isn't much differnce between picking up a hot girl...and a hot girl that is a guy...so you have to be somewhat careful at first until you figure out it is really a girl or not...

    "THE AMERICAN:
    Siam's gonna be the witness
    To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
    This grips me more than would a
    Muddy old river or reclining Buddha"

    Again...all he cares about is the game..

    "And thank God I'm only watching the game -- controlling it --"

    he is playing or watching...

    "I don't see you guys rating
    The kind of mate I'm contemplating
    I'd let you watch, I would invite you
    But the queens we use would not excite you"

    Once again...metaphor....it sounds like he is talking about chess...but his mate has to do with chess, not a girl..and the queens he deals with are on the chess board...not drag queens..

    "So you better go back to your bars, your temples, your massage
    parlours --
    "

    Go back to those places, because he is not interested..


    Its a fun song...very different.

    Peace.
    mikeb26on June 24, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is part of the musical 'Chess' and the only song I know of Murray head anyway
    Petaphysikaon August 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe singing style is sort of interesting.
    Esenthielon April 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe character who narrates this song is the Chess champion from the play who is going to Bangkok, Thailand for a tournament.
    Bangkok is well-known for being a city a haven for sex tourists, because it has so many prostitutes and brothels, etc. The guy in the song is essientially just saying "woah, I'm just here for the chess!"
    J.J.on December 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe chess master (I forget his name) is very focused on the game. That is part of the plot in the musical. He ignores the woman he is traveling with who I believe is his alternate. She falls for the Soviet chess player. Anyhow, the song adds to the fact that all the American cares about is chess and winning and not about love and friendship.

    "Tea, girls, warm and sweet, sweet)
    (Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite"

    I had to look deep to get this one. Somerset was a writer from the turn-of-the-century whose work was somewhat racey for its time (overly sexual perhaps). I tried reading one of his books and was bored to tears. It must have been more interesting in 1905.
    pinbackon August 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere does Yul Bryner fit in, you ask? "The King And I" with Deborah Kerr. Rad movie - Siam.
    LoyPiatton May 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhile this song is obviously about a chess tournament, there could be a deeper meaning.

    any person who is obsessed with a goal and won't be distracted may see the sex, drugs, love, etc. he'she will be so focused on that goal that the rest of life is missed.
    shellydageson November 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs Shellydages hinted at, this song, and this play, have a deeper meaning.

    Neither this song nor this play are about chess. They *feature* chess, but they are not *about* chess.

    This song, and this play, is about the Cold War.
    Alastoron July 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are comments saying this song is sung by the Chess champion. It is NOT.

    Freddie, (who sings this) is the ex-champion, he got defeated the previous year by the Russian, Sergievsky. Sergievsky left the Soviet Union and moved to the free world to be with florence, Freddie's ex-second. Sergievsky is playing another Russian who Molokov, his ex-second has trained up to try and defeat him as he's annoyed that he left to go to the free world.

    Freddie is only there hosting/viewing thhe tournament hence the lyric, 'And thank God I'm only watching the game -- controlling it --'

    There you go guys :)
    aleea03on March 08, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThere are some details that are quite interesting to learn more about Bangkok from this song.

    "The creme de la creme of the chess world in a show with everything but Yul Brynner"
    Yul Brynner starred in the very famous movie "The King and I" which is still banned in Thailand due to sensitivity over the topic of the Thai royal family.

    "Tea, girls, warm, sweet. Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite"
    The Somerset Maugham Suite is the name of the room in the best hotel in Thailand, The Oriental Bangkok. This connotes that distractions are everywhere even in the most high-end and prestigious place.

    "I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine"
    One of the basic rules of Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing is to kick above the waistline.

    "This grips me more than would a muddy old river or reclining Buddha"
    Two main attractions of Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River and the Temple of Reclining Buddha or Wat Pho.
    zmrzlinaon June 04, 2012   Link

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