Island Fever: I Drove All Night

PHUKET: Here we go again, some 38,000 feet up in the heavens, headed for Seoul and beyond. My noise-canceling headphones are weathering sonic booms and the chainsaw buzz of Iggy Pop. The “Ig” has become a man for all ages. Instead of dying young in a pool of blood up there on stage, he’s made it through to the other side – alive.

The journey of time and space through the rabbit hole isn’t an easy one, although once you miraculously make it past 50, things become a little clearer. Still, the fog hasn’t entirely dissipated, more probably, it’s the same as a misty morning when the haze is starting to lift and the white lines in the middle of the road start to become recognizable.

I’ve done my share of all-nighters and driven through the pitch-black dark more times than I care to remember. But one thing was a constant and a given – the omnipresent soundtrack. In other words, music. It wasn’t always rock and roll, or old jazz – or even the Top 40 that constantly haunted me – but the beat I can hear in my head… even after the music has stopped.

There remains a deep connection between music and the moment, whether it be past or present. All too often I hear a song, which has me closing my eyes and I’m suddenly transported on a magic carpet to another place and another time. Life and death are far too complex to contemplate, as are politics, religion, science and philosophy. It’s all too much, and the insane urge to stick my head in a filing cabinet and just keep pushing into the dingy recesses of storage is tempting.

But the connection to that song, album or melody remains a living testimony to magic in the world. Dial in and dial out to sadness, pain or sheer absolute joy.

I can remember my first time, as a kid, riding in a convertible car across the landscape at an insane speed. Or the mad crazy love I had in my heart for a woman whom I couldn’t get enough of:
I Drove All Night, but the music lasted long after she was gone.

My road trips continue to this day, and the teenage days of hitchhiking cross country with only a handful of money and a transistor radio to keep me company between rides seem like only yesterday. Yes, there was a downside, stuck in conservative West Texas, long hair blowing in the wind and two days of waiting to get out of the God-forsaken desert. Or riding on a freight train through the mountains in a lightning storm with massive raindrops falling from Heaven. Finally, as the morning came, the stars shone dimly above and it as another day and another song.

While I do have my guilty pleasures, ranging from Metal bands, to a few shameful pop acts, the one musical act that I could never accept is Kenny G. I know there are those amongst us who may use the Sax Man as a portal to their own personal happy place, but not me – only thoughts of pure hatred bubble to the surface when the annoying Kenny starts blowing. I even have a hard time being convivial towards men named Ken or Kenneth.

One thing is for certain; my connection with music is neither special nor unique. Yet still the moments that ebb and flow like the tide down at Bang Tao Beach could not be more vivid or passionate. The past is gone and all too fast, but the reality is it’s always there – sitting next to us in that speeding convertible with the top down, the accelerator on the floor and the music way up loud. Can you hear it? I can.

— Bill Barnett

Thai Life
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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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