Asanee & Wasan อัสนี-วสันต์

A bonus of learning about Add Carabao (Yuenyong Opakul) is learning about many other great Thai musicians who have collaborated with him. Such is the case with Asanee Chotikul and the second band he formed with his brother Wasan, named Asanee & Wasan.

The band is important enough to have their own Wikipedia page both in Thai AND in English. You can learn more there. They are from Loei Province, which is in Isaan, and where I happened to live for the brief period I lived in Thailand. But for my purposes, this biography is almost irrelevant because the coolest thing about Asanee (and Wasan)’s music is not that it is specific to a region, but that it sounds so strangely familiar to any Westerner of my Boomer era. It’s like discovering famous classic rock song from the 80s that you somehow never heard before. For proof, here are some songs from their band’s 30th Anniversary concert at Impact Arena in Thailand, September 24-25, 2016.

Even more remarkable, Asanee, but not Wasan, was also part of a progressive rock band called บัตเตอร์ฟลาย Butterfly which was REALLY GOOD. And the lead singer sings in English with no accent.

Here is the album Butterfly Vol. 3 Action, from 1986

What does all this have to do with Yuenyong Opakul, aka Add Carabao? Not much, but in 1986 he did sing on three songs on the very first Asanee & Wasan studio album บ้าหอบฟาง Ba Hop Fang (To Carry Alot of Stuff), an album that is really really good and maybe one of their best.

The three songs Add Carabao is included on are:

ไม่เป็นไร Mai Bpen Rai (Never Mind)
วันนี้ วันดี วันที่เป็นไท Wan Nee Wan Dee Wan Tee Bpen Tai (Today is a Good Day, A Day That We Are Free/Thai)
น้ำเอย น้ำใจ Nam Oie Nam Jai (Kindness . . Oh, Kindness)

Later, Add Carabao helped write a song for the 4th Asanee & Wasan studio album ฟักทอง (Pumpkin) (1989). That song is หัวใจสะออน Hua Jai Sa-on (The Heart that Loves to Love), lyrics and melody by ยืนยง โอภากุ Yuenyong Opakul and อัสนี โชติกุล Asanee Chotikul. It is one of the more famous Asanee & Wasan songs and includes an Isaan word in the title (which made it hard for me to translate).

Add Carabao has collaborated with Asanee Chotikul as a cowriter on at least two big “We are the World”– style songs that gather a large group of famous musicians together to sing for a cause, most notably ชีวิตสัมพันธ์ Cheewit Sampat (Related Life) (1987), an environmental song, but also คนขายฝัน Kon Kaai Fun (Sellers of Dreams) for the Thailand Intellectual Property Festival (2002).

Another Add Carabao – Asanee Chotikul collaboration that follows the pattern of bringing together very famous artists to do something special is พลจันทร์เดือนเพ็ญ Polachan Duan Pen (Polachan’s [Song] “Full Moon”) (1989). I find the song stunning, with layers of meaning, but I get the impression it is not well known.

Interestingly both ชีวิตสัมพันธ์ Cheewit Sampat (Related Life) and พลจันทร์เดือนเพ็ญ Polachan Duan Pen (Polachan’s [Song] “Full Moon”) work their magic by riffing off the song  เดือนเพ็ญ Duan Pen.

Knowing that Yuenyong Opakul was close to Asanee Chotikul at least from the first Asanee-Wasan album alows me to theorize some connections between some Yuenyong Opakul songs and Asanee-Wasan songs. It especially helps explain the song “Yuenyong” on the Yuenyong Opakul solo album โน พลอมแพลม No Problem from 1990 (see the notes under the translation of the song).