Three or four years after college, I realized a desire to live my life as if to create a work of art. The lofty desire came partially from reading some of Auden’s early poetry. I hadn’t read anything by him, except for “The Shield of Achilles” assigned by Rosamond Spring in a Great Books college class. Prompted by a scene in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” wherein a minor character reads out loud “Funeral Blues,” I sought out some of Auden’s voluminous poetry and prose. I don’t think I understood half of it, but I was definitely taken by the impressive range of his mind and of course his poetic lyricism.
Thinking about this list of “top ten Vietnamese songs of war,” I’ve had the hardest time with the songs in the middle of the list. But I knew exactly which song to begin the series and which one to end it.
For a starter, it is hard to find a better tune than Quê Hương Chiến Tranh – Country At War – if only for the title. Few titles in South Vietnamese music on war are as succinct or straightforward as this one, for it names the most significant experiences among twentieth-century Vietnamese: war and nation.