Add and Lek Carabao Write New Songs That Apologize for the Song “Ganja.” And My Own Theory about the Origins of the Song

The new songs

Interestingly both Add Carabao and Lek Carabao have recently come out with different songs apologizing for the classic Carabao song “Ganja,” which was a huge hit in 1982. The original song condemns marijuana use by telling a musically compelling but logically implausible story of an addict who becomes listless and eventually dies of his marijuana addiction. This has always struck people as odd, as marijuana is not a lethal drug.

If you have not heard the original song, you really should. It is very evocative, very “trippy.” Here it is with the translation. And interestingly there is also an English version in which the protagonist does not die but only “pass[es] out from sweet ganja.”

Now both Add and Lek apologize outright for [the Thai version of] this song. The Thai government has recently changed its policy and legalized medical marijuana. The apology songs were likely catalyzed by this change in government policy. Carabao songs often are public service announcements that support government policy. I have heard that Add can write this type of song in just a couple hours. Most of Add’s public service announcement-type songs, this one included, have a sam-cha tune and are unremarkable. So I am only translating it this one because it addresses an issue in a top-100 Carabao song. [EDIT: Add has now come out with a killer pro-Ganja song (I would almost call it a top-100 Carabao song, but I can’t decide which song to move out of the top-100), and he is campaigning hard to further legalize marijuana.]

Here is Add’s apology song มหัศจรรย์กัญชา Miraculous Ganja, posted May 13, 2019 (with translation):

มหัศจรรย์กัญชา เกิดมาเพิ่งรู้ความจริง
Miraculous ganja. It happens that [I/we] just recently know the truth
เมื่อก่อนรู้เพียงเป็นสิ่ง เสพติดและผิดกฎหมาย
Before [I/we] know only that is something addictive and illegal
ใครมีไว้ในครอบครอง เป็นต้องถูกจับทุกราย
Anyone who has it in their possession should be arrested
แต่บัดนี้โลกเปลี่ยนไป เราใช้กัญชารักษาโรคที่ร้ายแรง
But now the world changes. We use ganja to treat serious illnesses

มหัศจรรย์กัญชา ถึงเวลาต้องปฏิวัติ
Miraculous ganja! It’s time for a revolution
เพราะพืชนี้คือโอกาส ช่วยชนในชาติกู้ชีวิตแต่ไม่แพง
Because this plant is an opportunity to help people in the country to save lives, and it’s not expensive.
แถมยังได้ผลชะงัด มะเร็งที่หนักขั้นคีโมฉายแสง
And its very effective for cancer at the stage treated with chemo and radiation
ผู้ป่วยอ่อนล้าโรยแรง หันพึ่งกัญชายืดชีวาดังหายขาด
The patient who is weak and losing strength, turns around and rely on ganja to extend their life as if they’ve completely recovered

* มาปฎิวัติกัญชา เข้าใจใหม่หนานะประชาชนทั้งชาติ
Coming to a ganja revolution! A new understanding for all the people of the country
ผมเองก็เคยผิดพลาด ร้องเพลง “นอนตายใต้ต้นกัญชา”
I myself made a mistake singing, “Lying down and dying of ganja”
แต่วันนี้ตาสว่างแล้ว พี่เอยน้องแก้ว ผมกราบขอขมา
But I’ve been enlightened now. Brothers and sisters. I beg your forgiveness.
มหัศจรรย์กัญชา ชีวิตนี้หนายังมีกัญชา เป็นยาวิเศษ
Miraculous ganga. In this tough life, we still have excellent ganja

มหัศจรรย์กัญชา โลกใบนี้หนาเรามีกัญชา เป็นยาวิเศษ
Miraculous ganga. In this tough life, we still have excellent ganja

Here is Lek’s apology song “กัญชา 2562” (Ganja 2019), posted May 14, 2019, on Facebook (with translation). I actually like it better than Add’s:

อากาศมันเย็น เลยดีดไม่ค่อยออก พอสังเขปเนาะ แถมไอแพดก็รวนๆภาพไม่ตรงกับเสียงเท่าไหร่ ชื่อเพลง “กัญชา 2562”Lek Carabao Solo, Lekbaostore – เล็กบาวสโตร์ – และ LekCarabao DrinkingWater

Posted by Lek Carabao Solo on Monday, May 13, 2019

I once composed the song “Ganja”
The jist of which: I was opposed to it.
As days pass,
anything will change.

It can be made into medicine
to treat people
who have serious illnesses,
relieving pain and suffering

A thing we thought was dangerous
Has in these times become a medicine
Those who treat people
Give it out to free them from dangerous illnesses

So today we all must talk about this again
And get to an understanding of this plant
Today we all should talk about about this one more time
Talk about the very good things this can provide people

So today we all must talk about this again
And get to an understanding of this plant
Today we all should talk about about this one more time
Talk about the very good things this can provide people

Back in 2011, Add Carabao introduced the song “Ganja” at the Carabao New Year Expo by neutrally describing changing opinions on the topic and the fact that many other countries are legalizing marijuana.

“Ganja” might be considered the second song Add Carabao has apologized for in a year. He recently released “Che 2018,” in part to fix [an unspecified] mistake in his song “Che Yang Mai Dtai” (“Che’s Not Dead” or “Che Lives!”) from 1997.

A theory about the origins of the song “Ganja”

The very first Carabao song on the very first album was ลุงขี้เมา Lung Kee Mao (“The Druken Uncle”) and it was a huge hit. Some people still claim it is the best Carabao song. However, it is an anomalous Carabao song in two ways: First, the tune was not original but borrowed/stolen directly from a the song “Anak” (“Child”) by Freddie Aguilar, a Filipino musician. And second, there is no moral to the story: it is just a nihilistic sad song about a guy who drinks himself to death and in the last line of the song, dies under a bridge. And the fans LOVED it.

I think that “Ganja” is simply an attempt to write an original song that has the same magic as “Lung Kee Mao” (“The Druken Uncle”). And the attempt succeeded. “Ganja” was the biggest hit and the only enduring hit from the second album. According to my theory, the reason the protagonist dies of his addition in the last line of the song “Ganja,” is because that was a formula that had already worked in the song “Kee Mao.” In addition, about 10% of the early Carabao songs were banned from the radio. An outright pro-drug song would almost certainly have been banned in that era.

For those who can read Thai, look at the parallels in the way these two songs end. It’s even stronger before translated to English because someone lays down and dies beneath something. The drunk lays down and dies beneath an overpass, while the ganja smoker lays down and dies beneath [the influence of?] the ganja plant:

lung kêe mao
เช้าวันหนึ่ง มีคนพบศพ
cháo wan nèung mee kon póp sòp
ขี้เมานอนตาย อยู่ที่ใต้สะพานลอย
kêe mao non dtaai yòo têe dtâi sà-paan loi

chûa chee-wít kít sân tam-mai
เส้นทางสุดท้าย นอนตายใต้ต้นกัญชา
sên taang sùt táai non dtaai dtâi dtôn gan-chaa

Interestingly on the 25th anniversary of the band, Add wrote a sequel to ลุงขี้เมา Lung Kee Mao (“The Druken Uncle”), which is is stunning. This song, ลูกลุงขี้เมา Luuk Lung Kee Mow (Child of the Drunken Uncle), manages to be uplifting while remaining true to the spirit of the first song.