When I was a kid, we had the 45 RPM record of “One Night in Bangkok” from Murray Head. “Pity the Child” was side B. “One Night in Bangkok” was a hit song back in the day, and I never really paid attention to the lyrics.
When I was in high school and starting playing chess, I learned that “One Night in Bangkok” was from a musical called “Chess” about a high profile chess match between an American and a Russian, but this was before the Internet made it easy to buy any album at any time.
One day I walked into Schuler’s Bookstore in Grand Rapids and on a display table was the double CD original concept album recording. Of course I had to purchase it. It has since been one of my favorite musicals. I had the opportunity to see a live “staged concert reading” of it at Wharton Center in East Lansing in 2015 and I was very excited. Given that Chess is not the most popular musical, I didn’t think I would ever see a live production of it.
There are many good songs on the albums. Some you may have heard already, but “Pity the Child” is not the most popular. In the song, “The American” is feeling sorry for himself and lamenting his lot in life. It’s fairly depressiong, but worth a listen.
In 2008, there was a live performance released on DVD starring Josh Groban as the Russian, Adam Pascal as the American and Idina Menzel as Florence called “Chess in Concert”. It is outstanding and well worth watching.