Khe Sanh

Album: Cold Chisel (1978)

Songfacts®:

  • The group is Australian. This was written by their keyboard player, Don Walker. It documents the life of a returned Vietnam veteran. After serving in the war, he fails to fit into society anymore. It is also about the restlessness of youth.
  • This is a "Bar room classic" in Australia. Somewhere, sometime, this will be either played by the bar band or come on the jukebox, and 90% of the crowd will all sing along and know most of the words. It is also heavily played on Australian classic rock radio stations.
  • This was Cold Chisel's first single and debut album. It was remixed and included on the US version of the album East in 1981. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brad - Brisbane, Australia, for all above
  • "Khe Sanh" was named the greatest Australian song of all time in a mid-2007 countdown on the Max channel. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    sean - melbourne, Australia

Comments: 34

  • Colin from Perth, AustraliaSam of Wollongong, methinks you meed to be a little less critical of "all those clowns out there that obviously have no clue", especially as you may fall into the category yourself.

    "I left my heart to the sappers 'round Khe Sanh" actually adds to the inference, not detracts. But I am guessing that you do not know what a sapper is and are equating it to "sap". Sapper is not at all a generic term. Sappers is the term that Australian soldiers used in Vietnam and since for Army Engineers. And while it can be used by Americans, it is commonly used in Australian and British military conversation, seldom by yanks.
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainCold Chisel is the best band ever from Australia. And I am a huge AC/DC fan. CC had a lot of depth, both musically and lyrically. This song is totally amazing. Love it to death. It is almost perfect. It's so good it wants me to become Australian!
  • John from San Antonio, TxThere is one more song that really says it all for the Viet Nam Veterans. And that is When the War is Over by Cold Chisel.
    John M. San Antonio,Texas
  • John from San Antonio, TxThere's only 2 songs that matter to Vietnam Veterans. Khe Sanh is the life we lived and 50,000 names on the wall is the price we paided. I gotta give Cold Chisel the credit for having the cahones to sing a song like that and stay with it.
    USMC Scout/Sniper, Khe Sanh
  • Clarese from Cooma, Australiahey nunzio, i dont think you hate the song you are probably tired of hearing it all the time but if you listen to the words well maybe the song will grow on you
  • Clarese from Cooma, Australiai love this song!! it just makes you think about the soliders who fought for us and how they were foggotten
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaThis is strange, I'm the only American commenting on this great song. I found this song by accident about 20 years ago and I love it. I just burned a copy for my uncle who is a Vietnam vet and he told me that they were fight along side with The Aussies annd that this song brings back memories. Very Powerful song and I'm surprised that it didn't cathch on in the USA.....
  • Bert from Meekathara, AustraliaPete, Nowra - there is no "sh-t" in khe sanh wtf??

    Martin, sydney - actually there was australians in khe sanh, the Canberra bombers of the Royal Australian Air Force whowho flew close air support missions. Your right tho, besides them, no one else aussie was in there

    Geoff, Adelaide, Yeh redgum, i was only 19. John Schumann sung it and also sang Khe sanh in 2008
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australiawhy thankyou grusl:)
  • Grusl from Melbourne, Australia>>To: - nady, adelaide, Australia

    A cold chisel is a metalworking tool. It's called "cold" because the metal deosn't need to be heated up to be worked on.
  • Sam from Wollongong, AustraliaI few corrections for all those clowns out there that obviously have no clue, I get sick of people talking or boasting about this song when they probably have little idea of what the song is really about.

    Firstly, how could this ever be the national anthem, may I highlight the lyrics "And their legs were often open", that is actually in reference to Australian women, hardy suitable for the national anthem.

    It may be true that no Australians forces were stationed in or fought at Khe Sanh, but the song did NOT imply that, "I left my heart to the sappers 'round Khe Sanh", he was sympathetic to soldiers who fought in Khe Sahn.

    Also, I do agree that this song is over played on the radio, its like it was the only cold chisel song ever written.
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaActually I've always wondered that>>>what is a cold chisel???please explain
  • David from Sydney, AustraliaYou know another thing that is really sad, Supanerdos? Most people these days don't even know what a cold chisel is!
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australia"Bar Room Classic"??? Correction: AUSSIE PUB ROCK MAAAATE!!!
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaThis should be our national anthem, gotta love Chisel
  • Supanerd01 from Melbourne, AustraliaYou know what's really sad? there are people my age (16) who have never heard of Cold Chisel.
  • Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomThe contribution made by the Diggers in the Vietnam war is fairly overlooked, and it took a song that wasn't a hit until 3 years after the fall of Saigon to give them a little bit of recognition.

    For such a powerful lyrical content, the song fairly bounces along and is a bit of a foot-tapper. Kind of ironic really

    Incidentally, Jimmy Barnes was born in Dundee, Scotland
  • Nikky from Southampton, United KingdomMy brother introduced me to this song when he came back from a trip to Australia and I've loved it since I was 14 years old. Simply fantastic along with all other Chisel tracks.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaAlong with Eagle Rock,this is one of those songs you wish radio would STOP playing.I've worked in radio for years & I hate it & always have. The only band I can think of that got a pub CLOSED down because of one of their gigs. Good one lads.
  • Gerry Walsh from Melbourne, AustraliaChisel !


    Gerry Walsh
  • Paul from Adelaide, AustraliaQuite simply one of the best Australian songs ever written
  • Janie from Melbourne, AustraliaThe Best Aussie pub rock song ever...every australian needs to know the words to such a great song, it should be our national anthem.
  • Rutty from Canberra, United StatesKhe Sanh was banned on australian radio for the lines "Their legs were often open, but their minds were always closed" and "I have a growing need for speed and novacaine"
  • Dev01d from Wollongong, AustraliaGreat song. Half the people I know think the chorus is 'Last TRAIN out of Sydney's almost gone'. I find that funny. Jimmy Barnes is an awesome Aussie singer.
  • Dee from Khancoban, Australiai thought it was banned because of its sex references "their legs were out and open" "i'm Gunna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long" correct me if im wrong... by the way i love this song.. everyone in my family goes off when it gets played
  • The Darkness Rock from Millmerran, AustraliaIt was banned in Australia for the reference to speed and novacaine.
  • Martin from Sydney, AustraliaKhe Sanh was a town in the central highlands of Vietnam where American forces progressively built up a combat base. The most intense fighting around Khe Sanh took place in early 1968, although the Viet Cong attacks were designed to distract American forces just prior to the Tet offensive. Unlike what is implied in the song, no Australian forces were stationed in or fought at Khe Sanh.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiagood to see some aussies on the Songfacts site......up Souths
  • Traff from Adelaide, AustraliaThis song was banned in Hong Kong when it was first released. However, if you go to HK now and this song comes on (which it will, especially in Carnegies on Lockhart Rd) the place goes nuts as every Aussie in the bar grabs the nearest person and sings at the top of their lungs. Best night ever was at the Australian Summer Ball (black tie event every June/July in HK) when Barnes'ey himself sang this on stage. Not a dry eye in the house as every Aussie got emotional whilst standing on the table singing and every other nationality laughed till they cried at the emotional Aussies. Top night. Was there, was on the table.
  • Jo from Newcastle, AustraliaOne of those 'classic' songs that didn't even crack the Top Ten when first released (#41 in '78), but has stood the test of time (and countless plays on radio, pubs, karaoke..thankyouverymuch)
  • Katie from AustraliaSo popular here.........if you don't know the words to Khe Sanh, you can't really call yourself Australian!! Seriously though this song is a pretty powerful and moving piece of social commentary that strikes a chord with all Australians.
  • Matt from Sydney, Australiathis song was banned by Australian radio because of the refferance to the use of novacaine and prostitution. However i think it needs to be noted that today the song is often played on radio and is Australia's unofficial number 1 song. Long Live Aussie Pub Rock
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiait was actually banned on some Australian radio
    stations , I think they say 'sh-t' in the lyrics.
  • Geoff from Adelaide, AustraliaGreat song by a great Aussie band. Nothing like hearing a pub band playing it and everyone singing along...it's about as Australian as you can get.
    It has some really sad and powerful lyics about the troubles the soldiers had when they came home...especially stuff about walking in open spaces and stuff like that, which we all take for granted.
    There is another song by another Australian band called Redgum, which also is about a returned soldier from Vietnam. I think it is called "A Walk in the Light Green" or "I was only 19"
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Colin HaySongwriter Interviews

Established as a redoubtable singer-songwriter, the Men At Work frontman explains how religion, sobriety and Jack Nicholson play into his songwriting.

Billy Gould of Faith No MoreSongwriter Interviews

Faith No More's bassist, Billy Gould, chats to us about his two new experimental projects, The Talking Book and House of Hayduk, and also shares some stories from the FNM days.