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

Monday, January 30, 2023

Monday Music "Goodnight Saigon " by Billy Joel

 I am continuing my run of "Vietnam songs" this one was on Billy Joels "Nylon Curtain" album.  I heard the song and was quite familiar with it and it was ironic when I went to North Georgia College in 1984-1985(I joined the Army when I ran out of money.)  I and 2 other cadets stood up along with the piano guy and sang the background lyrics like in the song because no one else knew the long, which was ironic because NGC was the Military College for Georgia and one of the 4 military colleges for the U.S Military, kinda like Norwich, VMI, the Citadel and of course NGC.

     Vietnam was a taboo subject for a while the wounds that the conflict left on the American Psyche was deep.  We had won the battles but lost the war because we as a nation had lost the will to fight it thanks to the media and the hippies and the antiwar movement that was funded by the communist party and liberal donors.  it took several years before Vietnam could be discussed outside of the veterans.  My Dad is a Vietnam Veteran, he did a tour in 1968 and dealt with the tunnels of Cu-Chi and the Tet Offensive, then he returned in 1972 for a second tour.   For a while especially in the 1970's, the Vietnam vet was portrayed as crazy or dangerous.  The specter of Vietnam dogged every use of the Military or any support during the 1980's, from Grenada, to Beirut, to Honduras and Nicaragua.  The Ghost of Vietnam were finally laid to rest during Desert Storm.


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. That war ended two weeks before I graduated High School. Getting drafted back then was something on everyone's minds all the time. The 70's were pretty good....if you didn't get drafted. I knew a number of kids in my cohort who did end up drafted. Most made it back home from the military. A few didn't.

    1. Hey Daniel,

      Yeah, it was my Dad's war, and the kids get affected and I have blogged about it. Joining the Army was the family business as they say, and I preferred the volunteer force over the draftee force. it forces uncle sam to be careful on how they "spend" us if you know what I mean. and it cut down on the discipline problems when someone wants to be there vs having to be there.


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