Admittedly, this is not much of a happy hour song, but it’s Veteran’s Day – there aren’t a whole lot of upbeat songs about war veterans and what they endure in order to preserve freedom for the rest of us. Whatever your feelings about war, we should all thank our lucky stars that there are men and women who are willing to do the unthinkable so we can tweet from the safe zone about how miserable our meaningless little lives are. Just sayin’.
While we had our choice of songs on the subject, we went with Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon” for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s one of his best songs, with an unforgettable climbing piano progression. Second of all, he describes the vibe of the soldiers like he was there. Unbridled enthusiasm and naivete became fear, panic and the kind of mental scarring that does not fade with time. He even brings in what are clearly Vietnam veterans to sing the simple but devastating chorus of “And we would all go down together.” Joel has written some enduring work, but this is his most powerful.
For those unfamiliar with this song, may we suggest that you hunt down The Nylon Curtain, the album from which it came, at once. (To make this easier, we included a link to the album on Spotify above.) It is, in our opinion, Joel’s best album by a country mile. Think of it as a giant tribute to the Beatles, and a dark, angry tribute at that.