The song “Goodnight Saigon” was written by Billy Joel in 1983 as a tribute to soldiers who served in the Vietnam War. Joel never served in the war himself, but he had many friends that did. Upon returning home from the Vietnam War, soldiers were not welcome for what they had been sent across the world to do. Many soldiers had difficulties functioning outside of the war, and were not able to find jobs. Joel did not believe that the blame for the war should be placed on the soldiers and wrote this song to help show the world what these soldiers went through.
Billy Joel begins the song with lyrics that say, “We met as soul mates on Parris Island, we left as inmates from an asylum.” Parris Island is a marine corps base located in South Carolina were many marines went through training before they were sent to Vietnam. He then compares Vietnam to an asylum, which is an accurate description of they way the soldiers felt about Vietnam upon returning home.
Joel continues on with lyrics that read, “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, yes we would all go down together.” Before writing this song he consulted friends who served in the war and other veterans that wanted to tell their story. Joel used these lyrics to show that the soldiers ended up fighting for each other rather than a cause. They were not thinking about their mothers and back home, but rather surviving through the night and protecting the men they fought alongside.
Through the research I have gathered I have found that Billy Joel wrote this song for the veterans that returned home unwelcomed after the war. I found that many times when Joel would preform this piece in concert he would invite war veterans on stage with him.
“Goodnight Saigon Lyrics.” Billy Joel
Song Meanings at Songfacts. “Goodnight Saigon by Billy Joel Songfacts.” Accessed September 9, 2014. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=7694.