Song of the Day #3,545: ’19’ – Paul Hardcastle

Our next numbered song is one of the unlikeliest hits of the 80s, British electronic artist Paul Hardcastle’s spoken-word Vietnam war anthem ’19.’

Inspired by a documentary on PTSD, Hardcastle sampled news reports and interviews over a bed of electronic music, centered around the (possibly incorrect) statistic that the average age of a soldier in Vietnam was 19.

’19’ topped charts in a dozen countries and reached #15 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Hardcastle contends the song would have climbed even higher but many American radio stations refused to play it, so its chart position was based mostly on physical sales.

Hardcastle has released albums at a steady clip over the past three decades but ’19’ remains his only substantial hit.

In 1965, Vietnam seemed like
Just another foreign war
But it wasn’t, it was
Different in many ways

As so were those
Who did the fighting
In World War II
The average age of the
Combat soldier was twenty-six

In Vietnam, he was nineteen
In Vietnam, he was nineteen
In Vietnam, he was nineteen
In Vietnam, he was nineteen

The heaviest fighting
Of the past two weeks
Continued today twenty-five
Miles northwest of Saigon

I really wasn’t sure
What was going on

N-n-n-n-nineteen, nineteen
N-nineteen, nineteen

In Vietnam, the combat soldier
Typically served a twelve month tour of duty
But was exposed to hostile fire almost everyday


In Saigon, a US miltary spokesman
Said today, more than 720 troops
Were killed last week in
That sensitive border area
In all of South Vietnam
The enemy lost a total of
2,689 soldiers

All those who remember the war
They won’t forget what they’ve seen
Destruction of men in their prime
Whose average age was nineteen


According to a Veteran’s Administration study
Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered
From what psychiatrists call
Post traumatic stress disorder
Many vets complain of alienation, rage, or guilt
Some succumb to suicidal thoughts
Eight to ten years after coming home
Almost eight-hundred-thousand men
Are still fighting the Vietnam War

None of them received
A hero’s welcome

Saigon, Saigon
Nineteen, s-s-s-s-Saigon
Vietnam, S-s-saigon
Vietnam, S-s-saigon
Vietnam, S-s-saigon
Vietnam, S-s-saigon

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,545: ’19’ – Paul Hardcastle

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    But for your restrictive rules, today’s song could have been Steely Dan’s “Hey 19.” But, I know, no prepositions or three letter exclamatory words allowed.😊

  2. Peg Clifton says:

    Hey I couldn’t get past “at” for At 17 😊 but it’s amazing that you can find songs with just the number!

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