A Passage to Bangkok

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"A Passage to Bangkok"
Song by Rush
from the album 2112
FormatLP record
Lyricist(s)Neil Peart

"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 is in the key of E minor and is played in 4/4 time.[1][2]

Guitarist Alex Lifeson said in 2009 that the Led Zeppelin song "Kashmir" inspired "A Passage to Bangkok".[3]  


The song's lyrics, written by drummer Neil Peart, are widely interpreted as describing drug tourism, specifically cannabis.[4] The lyrics employ innuendo, eschewing naming any actual drugs. The song describes visiting Colombia, Mexico, Jamaica, Morocco, Thailand, Afghanistan, "golden Acapulco nights"[5] (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.

Lifeson said:

This piece is about a fun little journey to all the good places you could go to have a puff. We thought it would be kind of fun to write a song about that, and Neil did it in a very eloquent way, I think. That song was probably written in a farmhouse, on an acoustic guitar, in front of a little cassette player of some sort. We would record like that and then go down in the basement and rehearse it.[6]

  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.[7]


Ultimate Classic Rock ranked "A Passage to Bangkok" number 16 on their list of "All 167 Rush Songs Ranked Worst to Best", writing that it is "one of the sharpest vocal melodies the band wrote pre-1980, and it's a load of fun as a lyric".[8] They thought it was the best song on 2112.[9]

Odyssey rated the song 4.5/5, and wrote that it begins with an amazing riff by Lifeson. They also called Geddy Lee's vocals in the song calm but impressive.[10] They also ranked it number 61 on their ranking of every Rush song.[11]

Greg Prato of AllMusic chose "A Passage to Bangkok" as one of the album's highlights.[12]


  1. ^ Geddy, Lee; Alex, Lifeson; Rush; Neil, Peart (7 January 2008). "A Passage To Bangkok". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  2. ^ "A Passage To Bangkok by Rush - BPM - Key - Find Song Tempo". Findsongtempo.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  3. ^ "A Passage To Bangkok by Rush". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Barrett, Grant (23 May 2006). The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-07-149163-1.
  6. ^ "A Passage to Bangkok". Rushvault.com. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-11-20.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "ALL 167 RUSH SONGS RANKED WORST TO BEST". Ultimateclassicrock.com. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  9. ^ "The Best Song From Every Rush Album". Ultimateclassicrock.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  10. ^ Clouse, Matthew. "Rush: 2112 Album Review". Theodysseyonline.com. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Prato, Greg. "2112 – Rush". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-11-20.