25 Years ago, I recorded the song “19”. The idea came about whilst watching a documentary which highlighted the plight of young men and women who fought in Vietnam.
“In World War 2 the average age of the combat soldier was 26, in Vietnam he was 19” these words really made me stop and think.
When I first approached Chrysalis Records with the Demo of “19” most people there didn’t believe it would get any attention as there would be no interest from the media, and I quote “the public don’t want to hear a song about war”.
Two people thought otherwise, the promotions guy Ken Grunbaum, and Simon Fuller who was working for the Company at the time. I gave the record company an ultimatum, either release “19” as my first record or I would not sign with them.
As luck would have it they agreed, and within three weeks “19” was at the top of the charts in 13 different countries and Simon became my Manager, he later went on to name his company after the song.
At the time it all seemed a long way from home as Vietnam was an American war, but now it seems “history is repeating itself”.
It’s now the 25th anniversary since the release of “19”, only this time the documentary I am watching is about the British soldiers who would be serving in Afghanistan. I hear the words “I looked at my Men, The average age was 19, my god I’m taking boys to war”, It was unbelievable, almost the same words that gave me the original idea to record “19”, this was all sounding too familiar.
I had it in my mind to do a remix for the 25th anniversary of the original track but after hearing that, I felt it would almost be an insult not to mention the British and others, who have lost their lives in recent years whilst doing their duty so I rewrote the song completely.
This time the song is written from the perspective of how I would see things if I was in the position of a young Soldier being sent off to war.
What’s interesting is the fact that a few years earlier I was approached by the BBC to remake 19 to be included in their TV programme “Power to the People” which highlighted the fact that there were no British hospitals for soldiers returning from duty.
At the time I declined, but having listened to the Soldiers and even high ranking army officials from several TV documentaries, it appears that there are many who are unsure that the way we are going about things is the right way,
Some even believe this can easily become another Vietnam scenario which would be a catastrophe for all involved, I’m not here to preach or impose my opinion on anyone and like with the original record I leave you to make up your own minds.
I am no anti government crusader, but take a look at the video trailer , the similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan are quite alarming to say the least.
Luckily for me, In America I have been fortunate to have sold more records over the last decade than when 19 was at it’s peak so this is something that I don’t need to do, But on the other hand It’s something I feel I should do.
This is the last time I will ever revisit this song so I hope you like and understand what really are THE FINAL ever versions of “19″.
Paul Hardcastle – Feb 2010
A voice in my head is saying welcome to hell,
Will I get to survive I‘ve got no way to tell,
I’m in a situation where one of us dies
I get a stone cold stare from my enemies eyes,
A voice in my head is saying kill or be killed
But my mind is numb and my blood is chilled,
There’s bodies all around they lie on the ground
And all I hear is silence, and it’s a deafening sound
A voice in my head is saying this ain’t a game
If I survive this Hell I will never be the same,
Should I be here? I can’t say for sure,
If I don’t understand what I’m fighting for