Goodnight Saigon

Album: The Nylon Curtain (1983)
Charted: 29 56
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  • We met as soulmates
    On Parris Island
    We left as inmates
    From an asylum
    And we were sharp
    As sharp as knives
    And we were so gung ho to lay down our lives

    We came in spastic
    Like tameless horses
    We left in plastic
    As numbered corpses
    And we learned fast
    To travel light
    Our arms were heavy
    But our bellies were tight

    We had no homefront
    We had no soft soap
    They sent us playboy
    They gave us bob hope
    We dug in deep
    And shot on sight
    And prayed to Jesus Christ
    With all of our might

    We had no cameras
    To shoot the landscape
    We passed the hash pipe
    And played our Doors tapes
    And it was dark
    So dark at night
    And we held onto each other
    Like brother to brother
    We promised our mothers we'd write

    And we would all go down together
    We said we'd all go down together
    Yes we would all go down together

    Remember Charlie
    Remember Baker
    They left their childhood
    On every acre
    And who was wrong
    And who was right
    It didn't matter
    In the thick of the fight

    We, held the day
    In the palm of our hands
    They, ruled the night
    And the night, seemed to last
    As long as six weeks
    On Parris Island
    We held the coastline
    They held the highland
    And they were sharp
    As sharp as knives
    They heard the hum of the motors
    They counted the rotors
    And waited for us to arrive

    And we would all go down together
    We said we'd all go down together
    Yes we would all go down together Writer/s: Billy Joel
    Publisher: Capitol CMG Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 26

  • Aleta Rutledge from Buffalo, NyPowerful song. Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
  • Bill from PhoenixThe Viet Nam conflict was vastly different than subsequent American “wars”.

    A major difference was that pretty much everyone in the US who came of “military age” in the 1960’s either served in the Armed Forces, were directly related to, or were close to someone who did serve.
    We really “were” in it together, like it or not.

    The Draft was imperfect, but it succeeded in stuffing millions of young Americans into every branch of the USA military.
    Including me.
    As an age 18 budding private pilot, I enlisted in the Air Force, hoping for a flight status job, which I didn’t get.
    I did get a challenging 6 years as a scope dope, directing USAF fighter responses at the GD Russkie’s whenever they tested US defenses.

    Most of us who served during the Nam era did so to satisfy what we considered to be an obligation of Citizenship.
    Wherever we served, whether under hostile fire, or far removed from that.
    There was no discernible “political” ruckus anywhere I was stationed.
    Yes, we were generally aware of the anti-war folks from media reports, but it simply did not deter from our commitment to finish our enlistments (or Draft), then get the heck back to normal life.

    I proudly wore my uniform every time I traveled to and from assignments all over the USA and various Pacific islands, for duty and when transiting on Leave.
    Not once did anyone “spit on”, or even disrespect me.
    None of my friends - all of which served in every branch of the US military during those years - reported that either.
    Maybe that happened somewhere, but a half century later the “spit on” tale appears to have been expanded to a ridiculous extent, ostensibly milked for its propaganda value.

    Whatever the truths or exaggerated rhetoric from the Viet Nam conflict, the deaths of almost 60,000 Fellow Americans remains a terrible tragedy.
    Add to that the over 300k who were physically wounded, plus the uncountable amount of mentally wounded. We all - together - salute them.
    War is indeed, Hell.
  • Lon from Wisconsin Those of you making comments about “We had no soft soap”. That is a metaphor.
  • Peter from CaliforniaI was WRONG about the war! I was posted stateside. The guys who were there are the true heroes, forced to serve in a cause that was a waste of our souls, our treasure, our morality!--THEY deserve honor from the nation! May we never go down this road again!
  • Emrys from San Francisco, CaTo anyone who said it's gunfire: it's a helicopter. Just to make it clear. Have a great day
  • James from Lebanon, OrWonderful nostalgic song for the men and women who were there. Only criticism is why does Billy sing "six weeks at Parris Island?" I remember eight weeks basic training in that place of torture. But then, I probably was not there at the same time as him.
  • Edward Savela from Irondale, AlabamaI was never "in country" but served four years during the Vietnam War. There are many songs about this disgusting war but I think these lyrics are the absolute best. Not crazy about the chords or the tune but the lyrics choke me up.
  • Scott from Philly, PaOnly Billy Joel can make such a beautiful sad song about a political topic, without making the song political. The every time I hear this song I get choked up. They don't make music like that anymore.
  • G from Yl, CaWhy make it more than Billy meant it to be ? It's a magnificent ode to the poor grunts that had to put up with the jungle bullshizz......It's merely a simple song of appreciation to the sacrifices those poor souls made to the 'cause' of the will be repeated over and over for the remainder of our history....and I love them all for what they did/do...right or wrong !!
  • Heimdallr from Lakeland, Swedengunshots? I thought is was supposed to sound like a helicopter. how the hell is that gunshots? way too quiet.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThis song came out right at the time when the tide turned in the U.S., and all those idiots who spat on the returning Vietnam vets became pariahs, and the vets were finally given a very belated apology for the indignity handed out to them upon their return.
    The first time I heard this song, I got the lump in the throat.
    You may think I am making it up, but I remember at the age of four being very angry when I saw footage of the returning veterans being insulted in airports.
    Good for Billy for making such a touching tribute, and all you douchebags throwing out gratuitous insults at him need to go to the nearest five-and-dime and purchase a life.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoel recently said that in the early 1980's a group of Veitnam vets came to him an urged him to write a song about their experiences there. He said he couldn't do it since he never served. They told him that it made him the perfect choice to write it - that real Vietnam vets couldn't get over the emotions involved to write a song about it. So Joel spent several days listening to their stories and then got their approval before recording the song.
  • Cristina from Brooklyn, NySorry to break it to you guys...but it's absolutely not gunshots...ITS A DRUMROLL! maybe its meant to sound like gunshots i dont know im not billy joel...but it is most definitely a drumroll...sorry people
  • Daniel from Binghamton, NyThe line "We had no soft soap" is, I believe, used more in the sense of a soft sell, flattery, or praise. Paired with "we had no home front" the lines are commenting on the lack of support from the general populace at home, making the Vietnam War emotionally much different from some prior wars.

    And no, Joel did not have direct military experience, what he did have were friends who left, volunteered or drafted, doesn't matter. Some of these friends came back, a lot didn't. This is his tribute to them, based on yes, his imagination, and I'm sure stories from the ones who came home.
  • Frank from Best, -In contrary to US and UK, this Song was a huge nr.1 Hit in The Netherlands. It's also the country where veterans od WWII, Libanon and the Far East are honoured during teh Veterans Day on June 29th. As if we seemed to know what is it like to be a veteran, 'been there'. Not bad for a small country. Indeed a brave song for those who suffered.
  • Bill from New York, NyListen folks, this song is sacred to those who fought in Vietnam. WHy dont you just leave it alone and let the Vets have it? After a war like that and the disrespect the vets endoured when they came back home, it was great that someone in the early 80's was finally brave enough to pay them tribute. You sit there and complain about gunfire, stupid lyrics.... LEAVE IT ALONE.
    Just respect the men who understand it.
  • Tim from Houston, TxWhy is everybody set on finding fault with the song? One person is accusing the man of having based the song on what hollywood's take on the war was.Another individual wants to drag up the man's [lack of] military service.Some of you are concerned with the "gunshot" sound effects in the song,and to that i would like to add that if you've ever heard the sound of a "vc" rifle knowing the shell that just left it is headed in your direction.....let me just say "you would not give two s**ts about the sound of gunfire in this song".Look at it this way a non vet will never understand the song.If i have to explain you would'nt get it.Hell to this day i'm [along with a few of my buddies]still tryin' to figure out "what happened".The beautiful part about the song is that it makes reference to jarheads,but what ever branch you served with,if you were in country,you can relate to the song
  • Mike from Wichita Falls, TxI love Billy Joel, but this song contains what must be his silliest line - "We has no soft soap". War is hell.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBilly Joel avoided being drafted because he was the sole financial support of his mother and sister. His father left the family when he was around 12 or 13.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoel updated this with a new song he wrote in 2007 called Christmas In Fallujah. He had a young singer named Cass Dillon sing it, since he felt he was too old to identify with the troops in Iraq.
  • Steve from Arnol, MdA beautiful meloday, as typical for a Billy Joel song.

    But this song is not really about what it was like to be a Marine who went to Vietnam - there is no way Billy Joel would know that. Rather, it's Joel's imagination of what it was like, based, no doubt on Hollywood movies like Platoon or Apocalypse Now, memories of Cronkite and Dan Rather broadcasts, etc.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrI've never heard the gunfire. Where in the song would it be? What I hear is faint crickets, a tinkling windchime, and helicopters, but I don't hear any instance of gunfire.
  • Patrick from Bremen, GaYou also hear the sound of gunfire in the distance at the beginning of the song and at the end along with the helicopters. I think there's gunfire somewhere in the middle of the song as well.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrDid Billy sing with a choir of men in this song? If so, who were the men in the choir? Or was it a church congregation?
  • Chris from Adelaide, AustraliaThe only sounds effects i know of in this are at the start and end. The song start with almost a minute of silence (assumably as a mark of respect to those who died in the Vietnam war) and then the throbbing of Helicopters slowly fades in this is repeated at the end with the Helicopters fading out.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhat are the sound effects in this song, if it actually contains sound effects?
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