A Passage to Bangkok

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"A Passage to Bangkok"
A Passage To Bangkok.jpg
Song by Rush
from the album 2112
Released April 1, 1976
Format LP record
Length 3:34
Lyricist(s) Neil Peart
2112 track listing
"A Passage to Bangkok"
"The Twilight Zone"

"A Passage to Bangkok" is the second song on Rush's album, 2112. Released in 1976, the song follows the album's title song 2112. With the album's title track comprising the first half of the record, "A Passage to Bangkok" opens the second side of the album (on the original LP and audio cassette).


The song's lyrics, written by drummer Neil Peart, are widely interpreted as describing drug tourism, specifically cannabis.[1] The lyrics employ innuendo, eschewing naming any actual drugs. The song describes visiting Colombia, Mexico, Jamaica, Morocco, Thailand, Afghanistan, "golden Acapulco nights"[2] (a reference to Acapulco Gold), Nepal, and Lebanon. Mention is made of "smoke rings", "pipe dreams", various fragrances, and welcoming natives who "pass along" their unspecified crops.

In the documentary Classic Albums Presents The Making of 2112 & Moving Pictures (2010), Peart states the intent was to be "light in tone and write some funny songs" when discussing "A Passage to Bangkok". In the film, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, Rush producer Terry Brown, and Peart explain and demonstrate the subtleties in the song that make it a tongue-in-cheek reference to drug use in the 1970s.[3]

Performance and instrumentation[edit]

In earlier performances of the song (such as the version recorded on Exit...Stage Left), Geddy Lee would use a double neck Rickenbacker bass guitar, allowing him play rhythm guitar during Alex Lifeson's guitar solo, with Moog Taurus bass pedals filling the bottom end.

When the song was performed during the 2007-2008 Snakes & Arrows Tour, Lee used a Rickenbacker 4001 bass, his main instrument in the band's earlier years.[4]

The introduction and finale of the song both incorporate a variation of the Oriental riff. When the song was played on the Snakes & Arrows Tour, the concert's rear screen featured stock footage of the locations mentioned in the lyrics, interspersed with clips from Reefer Madness.[citation needed]

Performances by other musicians[edit]

Tool frequently uses the main riff of "A Passage to Bangkok" as the intro for their own song "Cold and Ugly" (and "Jambi" at several shows on their 2006-2007 tour) when they play it live.

An orchestrated version of "A Passage to Bangkok" appears on Exit...Stage Right, a string quartet tribute album that features 12 Rush songs converted into classical pieces.

Sebastian Bach covered "A Passage to Bangkok" when touring with Guns N' Roses at Bogotá in 2010, referring to the lyrics: "Our first stop is in Bogota to check Colombian fields"

Lifeseeker's song "Gone Guru" (best known for its appearance in the videogame Dead Rising) uses the main riff from "A Passage to Bangkok" as its main melody.

A cover by Canadian band Billy Talent was released in 2016

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve, Elliott (26 June 2011). The Little Black Book of Marijuana: The Essential Guide to the World of Cannabis. Peter Pauper Press, Inc. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-4413-0726-2. 
  2. ^ Barrett, Grant (23 May 2006). The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-07-149163-1. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  4. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-12.