“Charlie Don’t Surf,” recorded live in Tokyo in 1982. Originally from the three-disc Sandinista! LP (1980), the song’s title comes from an infamous line uttered by Robert Duval’s character, Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore, in Apocalypse Now (1979):
Thinking back, it’s somewhat remarkable that the war in Vietnam continued to dominate pop culture well into the ’80s. Several tracks on Sandinista! refer, directly or indirectly, to Vietnam, “Charlie Don’t Surf” being, perhaps, the most obvious. Likewise, the final album featuring both Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, Combat Rock (1982), was littered with Vietnam references, including, of course, “Straight to Hell”:
Wanna join in a chorus
Of the Amerasian blues?
When it’s Christmas out in Ho Chi Minh City …
Maybe the lingering influence of Vietnam into the 1980s stems, at least in part, from the simple fact that people were paying attention. Vietnam was on the news, in the newspapers, a nearly constant topic of conversation. And the draft ensured that almost everyone knew someone who served.
Makes you wonder whether this generation’s twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have the same lingering effect, when, unlike Vietnam, we’ve all but ignored those conflicts, almost from the inception.
While you ponder that, here’s the original album version of “Charlie Don’t Surf”:
Heavy, but outstanding. Amirite?
So, anyway, there you go. Your Friday Clash Song.
Turn. It. Up.