This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive. The event has generated perhaps more publications in the English language – government reports, media accounts, academic studies, amateur histories, memoirs, etc. – than any other from the Vietnam War. A sucker for anniversaries of publications and releases of films and music, I wish to commemorate it by inviting non-Vietnamese to listen to a very well-known song among Vietnamese.
It is not easy at all to choose a couple of songs from Trịnh Công Sơn for any list of ten songs about the Vietnam War. The first of his five albums in the Sing for the Vietnamese Country series – Hát Cho Quê Hương Việt Nam – is a masterpiece that must be listened from top to bottom. It is not a surprise that both of my selections come from that album.
Hãy Sống Giùm Tôi – Live for Me or Please Live For Me – is perhaps the simplest composition in the entire album: musically, perhaps; linguistically, definitely. It took me, what, all of six or seven minutes to translate the lyrics – half of the time on two or three lines.