Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Musical Interpretations of the Vietnam War in the 80's.

Paul Hardcastle - 19

19 was a Number 1 hit single in 1985, depicting his opinion on America's involvement in the Vietnam War, and the treatment of the Vietnam veterans by the U.S.A. Paul Hardcastle is a British composer and musician, therefore giving an outside perspective of the Vietnam War. It is clear from the song that Hardcase see's America's involvement as a negative involvement in a pointless war. There are no subliminal messages hidden within it and there's no need to read between the lines to understand its meaning as this is an out and out, in your face anti-war song.

One of the main anti-Vietnam issue's Hardcastle was trying to get across is the age of the soldiers that had no choice but to enlist into the American Army and fight in Vietnam for a cause not known but most. The song starts with quoting "In 1965 Vietnam seemed like just another foreign war,but it wasn't. It was different in many ways, as so were those that did the fighting. In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26... In Vietnam he was 19.In inininininin Vietnam he was 19". The lyrics are the spoken words of American TV presenter Peter Thomas taken from a television documentary about post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by Vietnam War veterans.

The second issue is realised when the song goes on to quote "Hundreds of Thousands of men who saw heavy combat in Vietnam were arrested since discharge. Their arrest rate is almost twice that of non-veterans of the same age. There are no accurate figures of how many of these men have been incarcerated.But, a Veterans Administration study concludes that the greater of Vets exposure to combat could more likely affect his chances of being arrested or convicted. This is one legacy of the Vietnam War" followed by "All those who remember the war, they won't forget what they've seen. Destruction of men in their prime whose average was 19".

Later on in the song, it says "Perhaps the most dramatic difference between World War II and Vietnam was coming home. None of them received a hero's welcome". This shows another negative reaction towards the Vietnam War. With the Vietnam War being a key area of anti-war protesting, when the veterans returned, they were not necessarily welcomed with open arms, which often, along with the other mentioned factors, started psycological problems for the veterans.This is shown when it quotes "Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered from what Psychiatrists call Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. Many vets complain of alienation, rage, or guilt".

All these quotes in Hardcastle's song show all the negative impacts the Vietnam War had on the veterans. The veterans that fought for America in the Vietnam War were forced to see horrific sights such as burning down Vietnamese villages and the natives, at such an early age (19 according to this song). The sights they had seen often scarred the veterans mentally for life, and when they arrived home and given the cold soldier, they were forced to cope with what the American government had thrown them into, by themselves. Being completely isolated upon their return mixed with the visions left in their head and forcing to kill for no known reason, ("Dad had no idea what he went to fight and he is now, All we want to do is come home") shows the mental 'destruction' of the veterans Hardcastle is talking about in his song.

Nonetheless, Hardcastle certainly got his point across with repeated use of the word, `destruction' and gave listeners food for thought by highlighting the on-going mental battle still being fought by many returning soldiers long after the physical war was over. The success of the hot from 1985 helped to raise and spread awareness of the conditions the Vietnam veterans were welcomed home with, showing the power and influence of media and its ability to shape public opinion.

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