The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Music Billy Joel "Good Night Saigon"

I am working Cub Scout Day camp this week....and made arrangements to work 2nd shift so I can do both rather than burn 5 days of vacation.   Well this week the theme is "Aviation" and my Brother from another Mother who is the camp director made arrangements with a local aviation heritage group to have a helicopter make an appearance.  Well they used a UH1 "H" model HUEY.  The Army called them "Iriqois" but everyone from the Vietnam era and afterwards called them "Huey's"..and the name stuck.  It is basically the only helicopter in the Army inventory that don't have a "Indian" Name.
The Helicopter landing to the Joy of the Cub Scouts.

I spoke with the Pilots and Crew Chiefs and they told me a bit of the Helicopter's history.

   She is a "H" model Huey running with a 1300 HP motor so she is a bit longer than the earlier Huey's.

She arrived in Vietnam in 1965 and served several tours there with the 101st Airborne.  Funny sending Airborne soldiers to Vietnam that turned into a helicopter war. 

  She was attached to "A" company 1st Aviation BN
      As part of the research to this blog, I also found this patch that was "Locally" made in South Vietnam. 
   She came back to the states and spent a lot of time in Fort  Campbell until she was transferred to the National Guard in Kansas I believe.  She served there until she was retired from Army inventory.  The Aviation Heritage went to Fort Riley to pick her up.  The Frame has 8000 hours on it.  I don't know if that is a lot for a helicopter.  I am used to commercial aircraft having 25,000+ hours on it, but are perpetually maintained by a maintenance schedule set by the Manufacturer either Airbus or Boeing.  There is no sound like a 2 bladed Huey.  Ask any G.I from the Vietnam era to the 1980's. 

"Goodnight Saigon" is a song written by Billy Joel, originally appearing on his 1982 album The Nylon Curtain, about the Vietnam War. It depicts the situation and attitude of United States Marines beginning with their military training on Parris Island and then into different aspects of Vietnam combat.

The lyrics of "Goodnight Saigon" are about Marines in battle bonding together, fighting their fears and trying to figure out how to survive. The singer, a United States Marine, sings of "we" rather than "I," emphasizing that the Marines are all in the situation together. In the bridge Joel sings of the darkness and the fear it induced in the Marines . This leads into the refrain, which has multiple voices coming together to sing that the Marines will "all go down together", emphasizing their camaraderie. Images from the war captured in the song include reading Playboy Magazine, seeing Bob Hope, listening to The Doors, smoking from a hash pipe, praying to Jesus, remembering Charlie and John F. Baker and those who died in the fighting. Joel has said that he "wasn't trying to make a comment on the war, but writing about the soldier as a person." According to Rolling Stone Magazine critic Stephen Holden, "As the song unfolds, Joel's "we" becomes every American soldier, living and dead, who fought in Southeast Asia."
The song begins with the sound of crickets chirping, providing the feeling of evening coming. This leads into the sound of helicopters, which conjures up images of helicopters fighting in the Vietnam War or picking up wounded Marines. Then Joel plays a figure on the piano before beginning to sing. The opening is reversed at the end of the song, as the piano figure returns, followed by the sound of helicopters, and finally the crickets, before the song comes to an end.
The song shows a great similarity to "Airwaves", a song originally recorded by Thomas Dolby in 1981.

Holden describes the song as possibly "the ultimate pop-music epitaph to the Vietnam War." He also praises the way Joel's voice captures the emotions of a nineteen-year-old soldier. However, fellow Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh considers it bordering on "obscenity" that the song "refuses to take sides." Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine considers it part of a suite on side one of The Nylon Curtain that represents "layered, successful, mature pop that brings Joel tantalizingly close to his ultimate goal of sophisticated pop/rock for mature audiences." Musician Garth Brooks has identified "Goodnight Saigon" as his favorite Billy Joel song. Producer Phil Ramone has stated that the song's symbolism "resonates with many people—especially musicians."


  1. You are burning the candles at both ends. Good job for the Scouts! You go! Thanks for the music history. I learn something every time. I have always liked Billy Joel's tunes.

  2. Take care of yourself! And there is nothing like a Huey... Although that one doesn't have the tree cutter blade tip weights, which were really responsible for the whop, whop, whop sound.