Redgum Classic ‘I Was Only 19’ Turns 40 - Noise11.com
Redgum I Was Only 19

Redgum Classic ‘I Was Only 19’ Turns 40

by Paul Cashmere on March 22, 2023

in News

‘I Was Only 19’, Redgum’s classic Vietnam War song, has just turned 40 years old.

‘I Was Only 19’ was released in March 1983. The song is a first person account of an Australia soldier’s experience in Vietnam. Schumann based the words on stories from his brother-in-law Mike Storen and Frankie Hunt, both Vietnam veterans.

John Schumann tells Noise11.com, “Its quite extraordinary to think how long that song has lasted. Even today I am surprised by the level of affection there is right across Australia for that song. Even from people who weren’t even born when it went to number one. I am definitely blessed. A songwriter very rarely gets to write a song like ‘I Was Only 19’.”

To put a timeline on the song, when the song was released in 1983 it was just eight years after the Vietnam war ended. John almost didn’t finish the song when Don Walker beat him to a Vietnam story in Cold Chisel’s classic ‘Khe Sanh’. “I was toying with the idea of a song about Vietnam veterans and then Don (Walker) wrote ‘Khe Sanh’ (Cold Chisel) and I thought he hit it over the fence for six and there was no room,” John tells Noise11.com. “Somehow, for some reason or other I wrote mine anyway. While the broad mass of Australian’s still love ‘Khe Sanh’ the thing that gave mine its cred was I got the detail right. The Vietnam Veterans, they understood what Don was trying to say with ‘Khe Sanh’ but they absolutely identified and resonated with ‘I Was Only 19’. It was their commitment to the song, their approval, no matter how painful it was, it was their approval that dragged the rest of us”.

John adds, “The fact is Australian’s weren’t at Khe Sanh. I was singing about Nui Dat and Vung Tau and Don was singing about Khe Sanh. It is only those people that understand about Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War know that”.

John Schumann will be performing his shows ‘The Redgum Years starring John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew, ‘Lawson – A Life In Words and Music’, and ‘Backtracks’ over various dates in Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, the Yarra Ranges, Adelaide, Brisbane and Byron Bay. For full details on when each show is playing visit John’s website.

Stay updated with your free Noise11.com daily music news email alert. Subscribe to Noise11 Music News here

Be the first to see NOISE.com’s newest interviews and special features on YOUTUBE and updated regularly. See things first SUBSCRIBE here: Noise11 on YouTube SUBSCRIBE

Noise11.com

Follow Noise11 on Social Media

Noise11 on Instagram

You’ll discover music news first following Noise11 on Twitter

Comment on the news of the day, join Noise11 on Facebook

Related Posts

Tommy Emmanuel, noise11.com, music news
Tommy Emmanuel To Award Guitar Scholarships

One of the world’s greatest guitarists, Australia’s Tommy Emmanuel, is offering under 25 year olds a four day guitar scholarship.

4 days ago
Hoodoo Gurus Dave Faulkner, photo by Ros OGorman
Hoodoo Gurus Expand Back To The Stoneage Tour

Hoodoo Gurus ‘Back To The Stoneage tour has a whole lot of sold out dates and a whole lot of new ones.

4 days ago
James Hetfield in The Thicket
Metallica’s James Hetfield Will Play A Sheriff in ‘The Thicket’

Metallica’s James Hetfield has been confirmed to play the sheriff in the upcoming film ‘The Thicket’.

5 days ago
Ron E Sparks
R.I.P. Australian Radio Legend Ron E. Sparks Dies Aged 72

Ron E. Sparks, one of Australia’s most respected and professional broadcasters, has died from cancer at age 72.

6 days ago
Paul Kelly and Dan Kelly at Red Hot Summer Mornington photo by Bron Robinson
Paul Kelly To Tour North America With Keb’Mo and Shawn Colvin

Paul Kelly is heading out on tour in North America with Keb’Mo and Shawn Colvin in September and October.

7 days ago
Models and Boom Crash Opera Team For Double A Side Tour

Models and Boom Crash Opera will tour together again with the Double A Side tour with dates later 2024 and more in 2025.

July 11, 2024
Bon Jovi, Photo By Damien Loverso
Jon Bon Jovi’s Mother Dies At Age 83

Jon Bon Jovi has paid an emotional tribute to his mother following her death aged 83.

July 11, 2024