I just came across a recent video by the Thai band Cocktail called “You” (เธอ). It is about a Thai soldier who fell in love with a Vietnamese girl while fighting in the Vietnam War in 1965. In 2014 he then goes back to find her.
Some of the scenes of the ex-soldier hanging around his hotel room in Vietnam reminded me of the opening part of Apocalypse Now, which made me wonder to what extent American stereotypes about the war have been internalized by people in Thailand.
I was then intrigued to see that on the guy’s hotel bed he had a copy of Vietnam War: A Report Through Asian Eyes, a 1972 book written by Japanese journalist Katsuichi Honda. I have never read this book, so I’m not sure to what extent Honda was able to show a different perspective on that war, however as I continued to watch the video for “You,” it became clear that this video does have a definite Thai perspective to it.
There is a monologue in the beginning in which the ex-soldier explains that he is looking for the girl, and he says that he is tormented by the fact that he doesn’t know who she is. He then asks, “Have you been reborn? Or did you die?”
As the song plays we come to learn that the girl he fell in love with died in 1965, however, she was reborn and he finds her in 2014. However, she doesn’t recognize him, until he dies, and then she comes to realize that she was in love with him in her past life.
We also learn that he actually died in 1965 too, so the “ex-soldier” who went to Vietnam in 2014 was actually the reincarnation of the soldier who died in 1965.
Are you confused?
Yes, it is kind of confusing, but it is this way because this story (like countless other stories and movies in Thiland) employs the concepts of karma and rebirth. So this video does definitely have a Thai perspective to it.
At the same time, the influence of Hollywood characterizations is also apparent in this video. It’s therefore an interesting combination of images and ideas.
In any case, here is the video, and I’ve made a rough translation of the lyrics below (different parts get repeated at different times in the song), while the Thai-language lyrics can be found here.
We’re so far apart, it shouldn’t seem like we’re close,
And my mind is still always agitated by memories.
I think of the time when we first met,
You and I never wanted to be apart,
And now I have to face the trembling in my heart,
Worried about our being apart,
Worried that your heart has changed.
It’s raining lightly like the time I met you,
Your eyes are still stuck in my heart, unforgettable,
Our love has not gotten old, right?
Or time has not changed the shape of your heart.
You, do you still miss me when the two of us are still far apart,
And when time keeps us distant?
Do you know that the person far away still feels anxious,
Whenever he looks at a picture of you,
And that his tears still fall?
The morning dew and the cold wind seize my heart,
The wind blows softly, carrying my love away,
And taking it to where your heart is.
Time should make our hearts change while we are far apart,
But I always only have you in my heart.