I ask a waitress in Siem Reap to turn off “Hotel California”

Earlier this week, we ate a late dinner at a place called Jungle Burger in Siem Reap. I was enjoying a cold Cambodian lager and a veggie burger until I started paying attention to the music playing over the sound system: Billy Joel, Rick Springfield, Lynrd Skynrd and Bob Seeger (I actually like Bob Seeger, but I don’t need to listen to that here).

And then “Hotel California” came on and I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought of that great scene in The Big Lebowski, when The Dude asks the cab driver to turn off “Hotel California” and is unceremoniously tossed out of the cab. It felt for a moment, as I sat at Jungle Burger, that The Dude and all the rock and roll gods were imploring me to take action.

So I did.

I politely signaled to the waitress who politely walked over to our table. I asked her if she had control of the music and she said she did. I asked “Can you put some Cambodian rock and roll on? We really don’t want to listen to this crap.” Her eyes widened with delight, she turned on her heels, ran to the back of the bar and, voila!–“Hotel California” is replaced with funky, Motown-inspired Cambodian pop and I went back to enjoying my beer.

If you don’t know Cambodian pop, and if you are tired of hearing “Hotel California,” when you are just trying to enjoy your Guinness, Dales or Anchor Steam, tell your bartender to trade in that 1970s crap (why do they keep playing those songs in public?) for some cool Cambodian pop. They can start with Dengue Fever, a great LA-based band that churns out high energy, danceable American-Cambodian rock and roll. They’ll have you up and dancing and calling out for another round of Cambodian lager.

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Sujata took this photo to commemorate our victory over the ghosts of rock and roll past

There’s also a cool documentary, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll that you can watch when you get home.

So get out there and stand up for a world free of “Hotel California”!

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