Goodnight Saigon Lyrics - Billy Joel



Review The Song (55)


We met as soul mates 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 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

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 on to 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 fights

We held the day in the palm of our hands
They ruled the nights, and the nights
Seemed to last as long as six weeks...

...On Parris Island
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

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


Submitted by Michael Hack




Writer: JOEL, BILLY
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group



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My service | Reviewer: Pete | 2/4/14

I served from 63-67 in the USAF. Last two years in Okinawa. As close as I came to getting shot was at 40,000 feet on a KC-135 heading for Thailand. I remember listening to a HF broadcast about a rescue mission to get a downed pilot. The last transmission was "they got him" I always assumed the NVA was the "they". I wonder who the pilot was and did he live. At the time most of us were gung ho, it took quite a while to understand how distructive the war was to the US, to our armed forces to all the young men who served as well as North and South Vietnam. The song seems to sum up the futility of the entire affair and the first time I heard it tears came to both me and my wife who lost a brother due to agent orange. The really sad part was the treatment we recieved when we returned to the states. My time was up in May 67 and was discharged at Travis AFB near SF. At the time we were given air fare home if we wore our uniforms. We were advised that the uniform was not a good idea. So I put on civilian clothes and payed full fair to get home.

best song ever | Reviewer: trish | 1/16/14

my father served in ww11, and his ship was sunk by a kamikaze pilot. he floated around in the
China sea for 3 days before a US ship pick him and the few that survived along with him. he never talked about the horror of war but I know it took its toll on him... as his daughter I watched him spend his life honoring the men that survived that war, he visited the veterans hospital monthly, always taking some great polish dish with him and just talking to the guys, I am so proud of my Dad and I think Billy Joel is a great artist who captured the wars in his song.. I hope he will continue his work..

He got most of it right | Reviewer: Ranger 1 | 1/8/14

I was a Captain commanding a company of the 75th Rangers. Very elite, very professional. Mostly volunteers, but a fair number of highly motivated draftees. Some smoked a little, but only off duty (I made it clear I'd bust their asses big time if they ever imbibed anything on patrol).The only correction I have is references to the military alphabet (Charlie, Baker) They were WWW2 era. In Nam it was Alpha, Bravo, etc. But he sure got a lot right....."played our Doors tapes." What a memory. "They held the highlands." The only better musical reference might have been to the Animals. That chorus of "WE Gotta Get Out of This Place" was sung loudly by every trooper that served there, me included.

Some did, some didn't | Reviewer: WifeandWidow | 12/30/13

First husband did two tours of duty in Vietnam from '69-'73. He was an E9 and did a lot of hash. I left him partly because of his drug problems. Second husband was an E7 and was there during Tet '67-'68. He drank all the alcohol he could find. He never escaped the horrors -- even with the booze -- and took his own life at the age of 50. Both were Army.

My point is, no matter the vehicle, our soldiers use stress relievers. Whether they chose hash or alcohol, all of those who saw combat in Vietnam lost pieces of their soul. I thank all veterans every time I see one wearing an article identifying them as a vet.

Billy Joel's Goodnight Saigon is one of the most powerful songs ever written about that era. Cyber-thanks to those who read this for their service to our country.

no one in my unit smoked pot. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/30/13

I take exception with the marine who bad mouthed the draftees. I was regular army, I had enlisted but was with a whole bunch of draftees. I was in a combat infantry unit. We were highly professional, we knew the only way to survive was to do our job, stay in top shaped mentally and physically. We all together became a band of brothers and would give our lives for one another. The recent Kennedy Center Honors of Billy Joel prompted me to look the song up. I do like the song with the exception of the hash reference. We would come back from being in the field, they would take away our weapons and let us all drink all the beer we wanted, that after a hot shower was all the stress relief we needed.

Billy and ... were saluted last night at Kennedy Center | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/30/13

Never heard a complete Billy Joel song before, was moved to tears seeing the Kennedy Center award show when the veterans were on stage and watering eyes in the audience, so I looked up the lyrics.

I was enlisted in Taiwanese Marine Corps (under Chiang Kaishek) in early 70's, we got two marine divisions supposedly US equipped, heard rumors that one would be sent over to Vietnam to fight VC, in flip of a coin, years later, learned that China threatened to start another Korean War if the Taiwan Marine ever got involved, Kissinger and Nixon let the South Koreans to participate, instead.

Great lyrics Billy Joel wrote, especially, in "we would all go down together", where "we" might include everyone in the war theters and beyond - years later we in the US would participate to help Vietnam in modern economic development out of poverty.

The prayers mentioned in the song were partially answered, hopefully.

Alexis | Reviewer: Vietnam | 9/17/13

This song just touches my heart!! It talks about the Vietnam War. The bloodest war in America/World. I just love listening to it and understanding it. Billy, you have an amazing gift!! I'm such a big fan!!!:) I've always wanted to meet you and learn how to play the piano.

a thought | Reviewer: TYler | 9/5/13

I think "we would all go down together" reflects thats during that time whether a draftee or a volunteer everyone got shot at....and bullets don't distinguish between the two. I am a navy vet of six years, three months in the persian gulf, and even though we now have an all volunteer force, whether an only chid or senators son...bullets don't distinguish!!!

Tragic and bittersweet | Reviewer: nik3daz | 11/14/12

I'm not sure if this has been pointed out before, but I like to interpret the final chorus as "all" meaning "they and us" from the previous verse. To me this song reminds me that despite war, we are all the same. We feel as right as the other side, and in the end, all that comes of war is that we all go down together.

My Friend a Marine | Reviewer: Pete West | 9/18/12

My friend 1SG Patton UTNG, a former Marine, Nam '67 was deeply touched by this song. He played it for us at Camp Williams, Utah and reminisce about his fellow Marines, living and dead.

wife of a vet | Reviewer: Barb o' k | 8/27/12

My husband served in Vietnam for Australia he was drafted then volunteered for Vietnam I have loved this man forever he served his country well and was in the last encounter between aus and north vietnamese troops BJs lyrics matter to me because I and our children have lived with the aftermath of that conflict as well as my husband dealing with his demons so BJ thank you somuch

Thank You! | Reviewer: Donovan | 9/13/11

I personaly listened to every recording I have of this song the day after 9/11, because I listened to the sound of silence that day. I think that this is a great song to commemorate the people who are serving and who have served. It seems as if we all know someone who has died and this song tells us pretty much what they, and the survivors, went though.

Much respect | Reviewer: Tony Crew | 6/18/11

Yep, it's a great and very moving song and BJ is one of the most talented songwriters there have been, however these posts have moved in a different direction and I find myself compelled to comment on the content. For us ordinary folks, no song, no film, no book and no pictures can actually depict the sheer horror of war and conflict. That right is reserved for the small minority of incredibly brave people who pull on a uniform and put their lives on the line. We band about words like 'honour' far too easily in everyday life without really knowing the incredible bravery and sacrifice these people have demonstrated. Respect isn't just given, it's earned, and these brave men and women have certainly earned it from all of us. A hand shake and a thank you is a ridiculously small symbol of gratitude but I wish I were able to do that to each and every one of them.

about hash | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/17/11

I heard in an interview that Billy had a conversation with a group of vets and that the song is just about verbatim from that conversation. It may very will have been draftees that he interviewed, but he said that he was very careful to give them fair representation. I don't think he added it because it sounded good; I think that's what he was told. For those of us who were not there, thank you for the distinction and for serving. You are true heros.

...more | Reviewer: Jesse | 10/31/10

Further to my last ...
It greatly irks me that many people have the impression that the war was fought by a bunch of half baked stone heads, getting high every chance that they could.
I can't speak much for the Army, but that behavior was not the norm for any USMC unit I served with ,,, And with 3 tours of Vietnam, I had a fair share of variety, and served with a whole lot of great soldiers in many different circumstances & locations - Including Oliver North in 1969.
I was 22 in 1967, and had already been in the military for 3 years at that point. I had never smoked pot up to then, never did in Vietnam, and never did after.
A few bottles of Jack Daniels yeah, gotta relieve that stress when you can, but with hardly any exception, all the guys I served with, even new recruits, were strictly professional, and had high disdain for anything associated with hippies, including pot.
I wouldn't have smoked pot any more that I would have considered chewing on a dandelion.
So that 1 line out of the whole song I resent, and I wish he had thought twice about it. A man of his creativeness and imagination surely could have thought of something better ,,, But yeah, I guess it sounded good, and fits in with the image that most have of Vietnam vets.
Not a fair representation at all, and promotes the myth that American troops in Vietnam were stoned out of their minds for most of their tour.

Now I have been to quite a few rear army bases, fire support base and what not, and some of the riff raff manning those outfits was questionable at the very least.
These guys rarely left the security of their bases, didn't want to be there in the first place because they were drafted, were into all that hippy shit anyhow, got bored out of their minds so yeah, they got toasted alot.
You could smell those bases miles away, literally.
That was getting towards the end and moral, at least among the draftees, couldn't have gotten much lower.
The professional fighting men, of which I was one, maintained their discipline, moral and combat effectiveness largely unscathed.
We wanted to be there, or anywhere else that there was a fight. Thats what we did, and to excel at that, you must maintain top physical & metal condition. Simple as that, really.
The conscripts couldn't hack it, and actually shouldn't have been expected to ,, And they showed their lack of discipline in many ways, smoking pot among them.

Ok I'm done ranting, I meant BJ by the way, instead of BG above.
Talented guy, above average song.


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------ Performed by Billy Joel

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------ 04/20/2014

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