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Australian classics: Khe Sanh by Cold Chisel

February 26, 2008

Video: YouTube

As far as Aussie classics go, you can’t do much better than the Band Cold Chisel and their most famous song Khe Sanh.

Many a young aussie of the last 25 years or so would be able to recount late nights at their local pub or club with this song being played sometimes more than once a night due to it’s popularity. A few drinks too many and singing their hearts out to Khe Sanh. It’s almost a right of passage.


Cold ChiselThe song Khe Sanh is basically sung from the perspective of an Australian soldier returning from duty in the Vietnam War. The words describe the struggle the soldier has fitting in back in Australia and how the government turned it’s back on the soldiers, not even offering them a march or parade on their return home to show appreciation for their efforts. The song was banned from Australian radio due to the sexual implication in the line ‘and their legs were often open, but their minds were always closed’. Australia’s premier music TV show at the time (Countdown) also banned the playing of the song as well. The song went on to virtually be an unofficial national anthem around the pub and club scene and has managed to keep a huge following even amongst the current younger generation.

Lead singer of Cold Chisel Jimmy Barnes also went on to a very successful solo career, Oh and I may be just a little biased as I have about 10 of Cold Chisel’s Albums and maybe 8 or 9 of Jimmy Barnes solo Albums, on CD and some on vinyl as well.

Lyrics below to Khe Sanh, thanks to Coldchisel.com

I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh
And my soul was sold with my cigarettes to the blackmarket man
I’ve had the Vietnam cold turkey
From the ocean to the Silver City
And it’s only other vets could understand

About the long forgotten dockside guarantees
How there were no V-dayheroes in 1973
How we sailed into Sydney Harbour
Saw an old friend but couldn’t kiss her
She was lined, and I was home to the lucky land

And she was like so many more from that time on
Their lives were all so empty, till they found their chosen one
And their legs were often open
But their minds were always closed
And their hearts were held in fast suburban chains
And the legal pads were yellow, hours long, paypacket lean
And the telex writers clattered where the gunships once had been
But the car parks made me jumpy
And I never stopped the dreams
Or the growing need for speed and novacaine

So I worked across the country end to end
Tried to find a place to settle down, where my mixed up life could mend
Held a job on an oil-rig
Flying choppers when I could
But the nightlife nearly drove me round the bend

And I’ve travelled round the world from year to year
And each one found me aimless, one more year the more for wear
And I’ve been back to South East Asia
But the answer sure ain’t there
But I’m drifting north, to check things out again

You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
Only seven flying hours, and I’ll be landing in Hong Kong
There ain’t nothing like the kisses
From a jaded Chinese princess
I’m gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long

Well the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
Yeah the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
And it’s really got me worried
I’m goin’ nowhere and I’m in a hurry
And the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone


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