During the Vietnam War, thousands of American soldiers found themselves transported to a temporary home in Udon Thani, in the heart of the country’s North East region close to the Laos border. They cut their mark on this provincial outpost and Udon cut a mark upon them. Many men, of course, were very young – tossed into a foreign land. And with their arrival, the city transformed – filling with nightlife and hotels.
As could be expected, many a relationship sprung up. Most of the soldiers returned home. A few stayed on. And some repatriated with a loving bride.
In this exquisite song, Manee Maneewan sings of heartbreak. A ‘rented wife’ composes a letter to her soldier, who has gone back home to Illinois. She weaves Thai and English together in the anguished lyrics. Whether you understand every word or only the English scattered throughout the song, its aching beauty leaves an impression, like the imprint of those years from half a century ago.