Of the eight or nine composers in this compilation of mine – I’m still debating between two songs by two different authors – Vĩnh Điện is by far the least known. An officer in the South Vietnamese military, he was, I believe, many years younger than the other songwriters on my list. [Correction: He was in fact older than Trần Thiện Thanh – see comment below from Jason Gibbs.] His output in the Republican South was modest, as fewer than ten songs were recorded before 1975. My favorite is Vết Thương Sỏi Đá, “The Heavy Wound,” which has to do with the pain of romantic love than suffering from warfare. Check it out, below or from the website that bears its author’s name.
Imprisoned in reeducation camps for many years after the war, Vĩnh Điện came to the U.S. late in life and, out of his searing experience of prison, brought out a lot of new music. Some of these songs were composed in captivity: as the case with poets and songwriters in the same situation, he kept them in his head. Other songs were written in America. They have been recorded in a dozen of CDs, and you can read about them in this write-up of more than 150 pages!