ชาวนาเฮี้ยน (The Farmers are Strong Enough to Do It)

By Faiyen ไฟเย็น with อานนท์ นำภา Anon Nampa on flute!
Lyrics by Gluay Faiyen (2017); melody by แอ๊ด คาราบาว Add Carabao (1987)

This song, written in 2017, is MUST SEE for all Carabao fans. It is a spoof of หำเฮี้ยน (Ham is Strong Enough to Do It) written by แอ๊ด คาราบาว Add Carabao, and published in 1985. A translation and explanation of หำเฮี้ยน (Ham is Strong Enough to Do It) at the Carabao in English website. Add Carabao is one of the most talented singer/songwriters in the world. He used to be openly on the prodemocracy side with many songs vividly describing the plight of poor Thai farmers and laborers; then he became famous for praising Bhumipol the loudest. Given that history, his older fans (of which I am certainly one) would want him to make a comment on the current situation. Interestingly, Lek Carabao, has recently written songs to help the prodemocracy side. Oh! And notice that famous human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, currently an imprisoned leader of the pro-democracy movement, played flute on this song.

The voice from the farmers, people working the fields, planting rice
Holding up us Thai brothers and sisters
ชาวดิน ชาวฟ้า ยาจก ขอทาน
People of the Land, People of the Sky, paupers, beggars
แต่เหตุไฉน อ้างเอาเราไปประจาน
But how come you claim to take us and expose us as evidence
Building up our pains and laments
to be a legend creating the artist

ยายไฮ ตาผุย ยายสา บุญมา ตาสี
Grandmother Hai,* Grandmother Pui, Granmother Sa, Bunma, Grandmoter See [?]
Crying out endlessly
Have been oppressed and tyrannized by them continuously
[We] fight with the dictatorship for so long, [we’re] sick of it
We’ve been suppressed and murdered by them
[They] reply to the farmers with guns

All our artist friends, where did they go?
Why don’t we see anyone at all
coming out to help us in the movement?
ปล่อยให้เขาทำ ปู้ยี้ปู้ยำ ทำสัปดน
They just let them do it—bruising, doing obscene things
Killing us and stomping to dust
ตายเกลื่อนถนน แถมโดนตะราง
[We’re] dying here and there along the road, not to mention, thrown in prison.

คือเสียงวิงวอน อุทธรณ์ต่อศิลปิน
It’s the sound of imploring, pleading after the artists
Come back and be on the side of the People of the Land!
Stop sucking up to more privileged people in the caste system
[That you find?] a backbone is the hope of all the masses
Come back and be on the side of the farmers
Grab a sickle, hook the sky, bring it back down and harness it to earth.**

* ยายไฮ  (Yai Hai or Grandma Hai) refers to Mrs. ไฮ ขันจันทา Hai Khanjanta, an elderly woman in the Isaan region, who famously fought for 32 years for rights to land flooded when a small damn was built in 1977. This was without her consent and any compensation for her family. She insisted the government had no rights to do this to her land. She filed her complaints to the village leader, head of the district, and the governor without any answer from them. In 2003, 28 years after the construction of the dam, she and her family members used hoes and spades to destroy the dam to regain her land. They were charged with vandalism of public property. Her story attracted media attention. Everyone asked why she didn’t get compensation for her loss. Then-Prime Minister Thaksin ordered waters from the dam be released so that she could regain her land. And 5 years later the government paid her family a few million baht. She’s become an icon since then. The other names are common and might not refer to anyone in particular.

**The metaphor of Heaven being harnessed to Earth is often heard. In a probably unrelated instance, Add Carabao (the artist who wrote the song this song is spoofing, and is the main target of the “come back and be on the side of the farmer” message) uses the metaphor 2012 in little-known song ode that is an ode to music itself. From มาเถอะมาร้องเพลง (Come, Come On and Sing a Song) (the link will take you to Carabao in English website):

“A picture/scenario of love [from the song],
Blossoming a world that is beautiful
If we there is no war
Heaven also stays bound to Earth
The little picture/scenario of the song
Is a strength that doesn’t end
As long as humans are still hearing it
And are amused from now on
Continuously amused . . .”

I believe there is a double meaning in that there is no huge gap between the royalty and elite (represented by the sky) and the poor (represented by the ground), as well as a “things are as they should be” connotation, in that the “heavenly things” are with us or close to us–a heaven on earth. Also see the song “Rung,” at this site, where a rainbow connects heaven and earth and the young people SKATEBOARD up and down the rainbow (like it is nothing). The song “Rung” has other wonderful atheist imagery.