10 Songs About Vietnam

Songs about Vietnam frequented the North American music charts in the 1960s and 1970s. The wars in Indochina, begun by the French in the 1950s and continued by the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, were a rich source of musical inspiration. A Vietnamese diaspora in the wake of those wars also fed a rich heritage of music.

  1. "Vietnam" by Jimmy Cliff is a roots reggae tune about a friend who is killed fighting in the Vietnam conflict. The lilting chorus, the word "Vietnam" repeated to a reggae beat most certainly qualifies it among the best songs about Vietnam.
  2. "19" by Paul Hardcastle features a title that refers to the average age of soldiers who served in Vietnam. This hit from the 1980s is both a song about Vietnam and is decidedly anti-war.
  3. "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by Arlo Guthrie is a folk classic commonly known as "Alice's Restaurant." The song, which is over eighteen minutes, recounts a true but exaggerated Thanksgiving Day adventure and served as his own personal protest against the Vietnam War draft.
  4. "Bonjour Vietnam" by Pham Quynh Anh, a Belgium-born ethnic Vietnamese singer, is about a Vietnamese immigrant who never had a chance to know her homeland. It was widely appreciated within Vietnam itself and has been translated into English as "Hello Vietnam."
  5. "Singin' in Vietnam Talkin' Blues" is a 1971 song by Johnny Cash about his experience in Vietnam on a USO tour. Cash describes a visit to Vietnam that he took with June Carter Cash.
  6. "Beach Party Vietnam" by The Dead Milkmen is a light-hearted reference to the surfing scenes in the war film "Apocalypse Now." The song, like the scenes in the film, offers a beach party atmosphere balanced with the absurdity of war.
  7. "Charlie Don't Surf" by The Clash is another reference to the film "Apocalypse Now" and the famous line from Robert Duvall's character, Colonel Kilgore. It is perhaps less a song about Vietnam than a song about American cultural imperialism.
  8. "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen addresses the aftermath of Vietnam on the USA. Despite the title, references to Saigon and the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh decidedly classify this number one hit among ten songs about Vietnam.
  9. "Dien Bien Phu" by French singer/writer Jean-Pax Mefret refers to the 1954 French Foreign Legion battle for Dien Bien Phu. The battle that touched off over two decades of wars in Vietnam also gave birth to this this French song about Vietnam.
  10. "Saigon, Goodbye" by Nam Loc ("Saigon Oi Vinh Biet") was considered an anthem for Vietnamese refugees who fled their homeland before and after the fall of Saigon. Among the Vietnamese diaspora, this song certainly would be included on any list of ten songs about Vietnam.
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