Mekong

Album: Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy (1996)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "This is dedicated," says singer/songwriter Roger Clyne, "to the late, great Michael O'Hare, who was there with me in Thailand when I wrote this song. The best friend I've ever had and probably ever will have. I know he's out there somewhere. So if you can hear me, Mike, I love you, and here's to life." This is how Clyne typically introduces this song at live shows. What he doesn't say is that Mike O'Hare died "hard and slow" of cystic fibrosis, and that it was Mike's spirit looking over Clyne's shoulder that actually helped in the writing of this song.
  • The story, according to Clyne, goes like this: With their guitars on their backs, a few weeks of summer yawning out in front of them, and just $300 between them, Mike and Roger made their way to Thailand to "experience the culture." They promptly blew through their money, but found they could make pocket change by teaching guitar lessons. And that is how they survived for the next several weeks. Of the things they uncovered during that spiritually - and otherwise - awakening sojourn was a unique rice whiskey which, says Clyne, could take the white right off your teeth. The drink was called mekong. (Get more in our Roger Clyne interview. His website is azpeacemakers.com.)
  • Mekong, a rice whiskey, is the drink of choice for blue-collar workers in Thailand. Created by James Hanzatko, a Chinese entrepreneur, and his partner Peter Sawer, in 1985, it has a 35% (70 proof) alcohol content, which is lower than most Western brands of whiskey. When it was first being manufactured, mekong whiskey was rumored to contain amphetamine. The rumor proved to be false.
  • According to the online medical encyclopedia Medlineplus, cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. It is the most common type of chronic lung disease in children and young adults, and may result in early death. It is caused by a defective gene which tells the body to produce abnormally thick and sticky fluid, called mucus. This mucus builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and the pancreas, the organ that helps to break down and absorb food. This collection of sticky mucus results in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestion problems. The disease may also affect the sweat glands and a man's reproductive system.

    Most children are diagnosed with CF by their 2nd birthday. A small number, however, are not diagnosed until age 18 or older. These patients usually have a milder form of the disease.

Comments: 3

  • Louis from New YorkThe lyrics are very touching.
    I find myself listening to this daily.
    May Mike Rest In Peace.
  • Cliff from Minneapolis, MnMekong whiskey was made in 1941 by James Hanzatko. After he died his friend Peter Sawyer continued brewing it.-- Effin great song --
  • Nick from Holbrook, NyHi Songfacts:You say Mekong whiskey was created by James Hanzatko, a Chinese entrepreneur, and his partner Peter Sawer, in 1985. Are you sure it was 1985?I drank Mekong back in the early 70's in Thailand during my Army days there. Sawadee,Nick
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Brandi Carlile

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And Scandals

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And ScandalsSong Writing

Surprise exits, a catfight and some very memorable performances make our list of the most memorable Idol moments.

Boz Scaggs

Boz ScaggsSongwriter Interviews

The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.

Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks

Ron and Russell Mael of SparksSongwriter Interviews

The men of Sparks on their album Hippopotamus, and how Morrissey handled it when they suggested he lighten up.

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.