"Goodnight Saigon" as written by and Billy Joel....
We met as soulmates
On Parris Inland
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 mortars
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


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by kilercrab321

"Goodnight Saigon" as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Goodnight Saigon song meanings
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40 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis song just makes me so bitter towards the American society. It makes me think of Born on the Fourth of July (W/Tom Cruise)...It depresses me because I feel so much for all the men who went to fight thinking it was the right thing to do, but then came home to absolutely no welcoming. That's f*cked up if you ask me.
    Surfpicoon March 07, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe men who went to vietnam and faced death for 365 days kno what this song means and anyone who had the balls to spit on them when they got home should be shot. That was bullshit, if you dont agree with the governments actions, dont spit on the ones who actually went there, they had enough to worry about. Even when they got back the nightmares and flashbacks are more than any of those fucking hippies could handle.
    metallica5699on July 01, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe men who went to vietnam and faced death for 365 days kno what this song means and anyone who had the balls to spit on them when they got home should be shot. That was bullshit, if you dont agree with the governments actions, dont spit on the ones who actually went there, they had enough to worry about. Even when they got back the nightmares and flashbacks are more than any of those fucking hippies could handle.
    metallica5699on July 01, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy cousin went to Vietnam and had a similar experience when he came home, the backlash here in australia was that we were joining another country's war, that still doesn't excuse what happened to the vets. This song is so emotive, you do feel as if you were there. Billy Joel is a genius!
    freddysgirlon October 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs a 19 year old private infantry soldier I just can't find the words to express what this song means to me. I mean, the average soldier there was 19. Like, more than half of them were younger than me, just teenagers..

    "Remember Charlie
    Remember Baker
    They left their childhood
    On every acre"

    That really sums it up like, the soldiers were still only kids, they were just kids and a lot of them were drafted. So what ya have is an army of drafted kids who're half scared to death in a foreign country and those that don't make it spill their blood all over the country (spill their childhood). Those that do make it are then treated like shit when they get home. Nobody deserves that! I don't agree with what happened in vietnam, I don't agree with what's happening in iraqistan either but I'd be the last person to blame the troops. Ya know why? Because it's not their fault. When you enlist you take an oath to obey all lawful orders. It's not the troops fault if the orders are f*cked up. They're just doing their job and trying to stay alive. Which brings me on to

    "And who was wrong?
    And who was right?
    It didn't matter in the thick of the fight "

    Vietnam was a slaughter house on both sides... I don't blame the soldiers for what they did and I don't understand how anyone else can. How can people sit on their high horse and preach when they've never been there? When they've never known the terror of sitting in enemy territory at night, knowing deep down that you're not going to win this war and just waiting for the day when a bullet sends you home?!? If you're living like that day in, day out it REALLY doesn't matter if your side are right or wrong, all that matters is getting out alive.

    It's very, very easy to take the easy option and be all anti-vietnam vets. What's not easy is to go into a situation like that and keep fighting and doing your best, even if you really don't want to.

    "They heard the hum of our motors
    They counted the rotors
    And waited for us to arrive"

    I'd like to see any of the crusties go into a situation like the one he describes above (which a lot of vietnam was) and remain anti-vets.

    This song just means so much to me. It's so right because it's not talking about the politics of the war, it's just talking about the war and the kids that were fighting it.
    Doberman Pharoahon April 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI listened to this song for the first time in years and thought I heard something new. The song starts out focusing on the American soldiers, then in the last verse changes to the perspective of the Viet Cong:

    We held the coastline
    They held the highlands
    And they were sharp
    As sharp as knives
    They heard the hum of our motors
    They counted the rotors
    And waited for us to arrive

    Then goes into the closing chorus:

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

    It's easy to hear the "we" in the final chorus as still being just about the American soldiers, but what if he's talking about not just them, but the American and Viet Cong soldiers together? What if they would ALL go down together? Meaning, war will take us all down.

    Don't know if BJ intended that interpretation, but I sure like it.
    PencilNeckedGeekon October 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"We met as soul mates
    On Paris Island
    We left as inmates
    From an asylum
    And we were sharp
    As sharp as knives
    And we were so gun ho to lay down our lives."

    He met friends while on training at Paris Island, the USMC base, they left that base as men who had been trapped and had nothing. They were trained to be the cutting edge of the USMC. And they believed that they were going into combat to defend their country and possibly die for it.

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

    They came in, anxious and excited, barely able to be contained. But in the end they got back in body bags. They adapted quickly to leave a lot of stuff behind that they wouldn't use in the jungle so they didn't carry a lot. Their arms were heavy from the duty they had to do while their stomachs were tight cause of the little food.

    "we had no home front
    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."

    They didn't have a good front line, since it was asymmetrical warfare. They didn't get luxury supplies as soap, but got playboy and comedians to keep the morale high. They dug themselves in to keep the vietcong back and shot everyone who they saw in the jungle. They prayed that they wouldn't be the next the vietcong would take.

    "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"

    They couldn't record what they were going through, or the beauty of a peaceful Vietnam to sent back home. They were on drugs and listened to tapes from The Doors (A US rock group). The night in the jungle was dark cause there was nothing to light it and they sought to each other for support and courage, like brothers help brothers. And they promised their mother's they'd write from Vietnam, something they barely could at times.

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

    And they were all going through it together. They'd all make it together, or they'd all die 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"

    Charlie was the nickname for the Vietcong, and Baker is a common US surname. I think this means that both sides had young men dying, losing their childhood to this war cause they didn't survive. And when there, nobody cared who was right, it was insanity. They forgot when they were fighting and just fought to survive.

    "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 Paris 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"

    The United States were superior during the day. They held the day in their hand, with aircraft and artillery being able to keep off the Vietcong. But in the night, there were no aircraft or artillery. And then, the Vietcong had the upper hand. Every night, would seem like the six weeks of training at Paris Island, so nerve wrecking and bad. The United States held the coastline, as bases and landing sites. While the Vietcong held the mountains with their tunnel networks the US couldn't find. And the tide had turned, the Vietcong had the upper hand, they were the superior warriors, they were the cutting edge over the USMC. They would wait, watching the US forces in their vehicles, or observe the helicopters, counting the amount. I think this relates to the psychological effect of the jungle, that the soldiers always had the feeling they were being watched by the Vietcong. And when the US was there, the Vietcong would know how many and where, and they'd ambush.

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

    And whatever happened, they were still going through it together.
    Ghawkinson December 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits great
    coolspiriton June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone who has ever seen Billy Joel play this song in Madison Square would agree that it sends a chill up your spine. The crowd just goes crazy.
    leaneyson August 19, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember when I was a little kid, about 2 or 3 maybe, listening to this song on my parents record player...it was back in 1987 or 8, and i can remember the sound of the helicopter in the beginning...its just burned into my memory....great song...great song
    TSLlovesPHILon September 17, 2002   Link

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