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

Monday, February 6, 2023

Monday Music "19" By Paul HardCastle

 I had decided to do the "Vietnam" songs for a bit because my Dads Birthday was in late January and he would have been 79, yeah I still miss him.

  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.

 I first heard of this song while I was a senior in high school, I was big into the JROTC program and I had noticed that there was a lot of "Vietnam" stuff coming out in the movies and in song, I made a comment that finally the country was trying to face down the ghost and the spectre of our involvement in the "Southeast Asean War Games" as I have heard it referred to.  My Dad was a Vietnam War vet and hewas on the "Agent Orange Registry" and other things, he was 77 years old when he passed and for his age is in remarkably good health and the 2nd dose of the clot shot got him.    I remembered the derision that the vets went through when they came back from the war, they didn't want to go, but went because their country sent them anyway because it was their patriotic duty.
      I remembered coming back from when I was sent to Desert Storm and returned and was back in Germany, I was out with some of my friends they were having a beer, I had quit drinking because going to the gulf had "dried me out" and I liked being sober...Funny how that works out.  I did have a taste of the beer to "prove that I had made it back."  I kept having dreams that I was back in the world and would wake up and still find myself in the sandbox.  As I understand it, that was a regular occurrence with many people.   But I digress.  I had a swallow of the Local German Beer "HofBrau" for the taste, when I actually tasted it, it finally proved to me that I was "home" from the war, and I wasn't a cripple or dead or some of that other crap. 

     A person came up to us and called us a "murderer and a baby killer"  Well that wasn't smart...was actually dumb...Here we are a group of GI's that were happy to be alive and this prick shows up and opens his pie hole.  Well I immediately had a flashback to somebody insulting my Dad when he had came back from his second tour of Vietnam and I had rage like I had never had before, and I told him to "f**k off" the dummy threw a punch at me and popped me in the jaw, the red veil descended and I unloaded in this poor guy, I knocked him down with one punch and started to kick the crap out of him.  My friends pulled me off of him.  The bouncer picked this guy up and threw him out.  The others vouched for what had happened and I was able to stay.   I went into the bathroom and drowned my head in cold water to calm down.  I had been in several fights before, but this was one I was proud of.  I didn't like to fight and would look for a peaceable solution if possible.   I later called my Dad from Germany and told him that I "kicked the crap out of a war protestor for him". 

     I have great pride in my Army service and my service in the Gulf, we did a good thing getting Saddam out of Kuwait, I saw Kuwait city after we had liberated it, the Iraqi's had pillaged it.  I also saw some of the vehicles used in the highway of death and they were full of loot from the Kuwaiti's.  Some people called it a "war for Oil" and perhaps it was to an extent, but you notice that we gave it back as soon as we had liberated it?   Which other country would have done that?
     But back to the song "19" by Paul Hardcastle:
"19" is a song by British musician Paul Hardcastle released as the first single from his self-titled third studio album Paul Hardcastle (1985).
Some people believe the song has somewhat of an anti-war message, focusing on America's involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the soldiers who served. The track was notable for early use of sampled and processed speech, in particular a stutter effect used on the words "n-n-n-n-nineteen" and "d-d-d-d-destruction". It also includes various non-speech samples such as crowd noise and a military bugle call.
"19" features sampled narration (by Peter Thomas), interview dialogue ("I wasn't really sure what was going on") and news reports from Vietnam Requiem, an ABC television documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by veterans. In 2009, the song placed at 73 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.
"19" topped the charts in the UK for 5 weeks, and reached the top 20 in the US, where it also topped the dance chart. For a while, it was the top selling single in 13 countries (helped by the fact that versions of the song were recorded in French, Spanish, German and Japanese), and it received the Ivor Novello award for Best-selling single of 1985. The song's English language release came in 3 different 12" versions ("Extended Version", "Destruction Mix" and "The Final Story"), each with an alternative cover design.

Hardcastle was inspired to create the song after watching Vietnam Requiem, and comparing his own life at 19 to those of the soldiers featured: "...what struck me was how young the soldiers were: the documentary said their average age was 19. I was out having fun in pubs and clubs when I was 19, not being shoved into jungles and shot at."
The title "19" comes from the documentary's claim that the average age of an American combat soldier in the war was 19, as compared to World War II's 26. This claim has since been disputed. Undisputed statistics do not exist, although Southeast Asia Combat Area Casualties Current File (CACCF), the source for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, shows a large number of deaths (38%) were ages 19 or 20. According to the same source, 23 is the average age at time of death (or declaration of death). The song also comments that while the tour of duty was longer during World War II, soldiers in Vietnam were subject to hostile fire almost every day.
Musically, the song was inspired by electro, particularly Afrika Bambaataa, although Hardcastle also "added a bit of jazz and a nice melody", and beyond the sampling of the documentary narration, the song incorporated pieces of interviews with soldiers. The song's hook, the repetitive ""N-n-n-nineteen", was developed due to the limitations of the early sampling technology used. The E-mu Emulator could only sample for two seconds, so the hook was based around "the only bit of the narrative that made sense in two seconds." Hardcastle wasn't optimistic about the song's chances in the charts. His previous two singles for independent labels had failed to make it into the UK's Top 40 and the musical policy at Radio 1 was felt to be unsupportive of dance music. News interest in the song helped, with the 10th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War seeing Hardcastle interviewed by Alastair Stewart of ITN.
Tony Blackburn, then breakfast DJ for Radio London was an early supporter of the song and it reached number 1 in the UK and around the world, with Hardcastle producing more mixes of the song to help maintain interest.Although the song did not climb as high in the United States chart, Hardcastle claims "it outsold everybody else for three weeks solid, it only reached number 15, because back then the chart was based on airplay as well as sales." The song was held back in the US by some radio stations refusing to play it, feeling that the song took an anti-American stance, something Hardcastle denies, noting "I had tons of letters from Vietnam vets thanking me for doing something for them."
The success of "19" meant that Hardcastle's manager Simon Fuller, who had recently left Chrysalis Records to set up on his own, was able to use the funds to continue his business. He named the business 19 Management in acknowledgement and the number 19 has become of great significance to Fuller. Fuller went on to become the most successful British music manager of all time and was behind the success of the Spice Girls and American Idol. Hardcastle has continued his connections to 19 Entertainment and in 2009 created the sound for the end card used at the end of 19's television shows.

After the song's unexpected, rapid climb to the top of the UK Singles chart, Chrysalis asked directors Jonas McCord and Bill Couterie to rush a video into production. Due to the lack of a band able to perform the song, the video was primarily composed of clips from the Vietnam Requiem documentary, edited together by Ken Grunbaum. The first version of the video included footage from the television networks NBC and ABC, including a newscast by ABC anchorman Frank Reynolds. After it was aired on MTV in the U.S., NBC and ABC objected to the "bad taste" of using the serious clips in a "trivial" form of "propaganda."McCord and Couterie were forced to produce a new cut incorporating public domain footage, but ABC permitted Reynolds' audio to remain. Couterie asserted at the time that the television networks opposed the video because it involved rock music:

What is the difference between the words in our song and the 7 o'clock news? The only difference is rock'n'roll. And why did they love the documentary and hate the video so much? Every word in the song is from the film, and there was never any argument with the facts. The only difference is the music.
The song's reliance on sampling also caused problems with legal clearance. Grunbaum recalled in 2012 that "there were no precedents for something like this. We ended up having to pay Peter Thomas, the narrator, royalties.".


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