“Khe Sanh” was released as a single in May 1978, and named after the Battle of Khe Sanh (1968) during the Vietnam War. The song, performed by Cold Chisel, having been written by pianist Don Walker and featuring the vocals of Jimmy Barnes, is about an Australian Vietnam veteran dealing with his return to civilian life. According to Toby Creswell’s liner notes for the band’s 1991 compilation album Chisel, the song is also a story of restless youth.
“Khe Sanh” is one of the most popular songs ever recorded by an Australian act and one generally seen as a resonant symbol of the Australian culture. The record reached number four in the band’s home town of Adelaide but peaked on the national sales charts at number 41. In August 1978, censors gave it an A Classification, meaning that it was “not suitable for airplay”, because of sex and drug references, such as the lines: “their legs were often open, but their minds were always closed”. Barnes later commented “Every DJ in the country begged us to release “Khe Sanh” as a single. Then they banned it two weeks later. They had to ban something once a week to keep the Catholic Church happy.” A single station in Adelaide defied this censorship, and was the catalyst of the song’s popularity.
In 2001, members of APRA, the Australasian music industry’s peak body, put “Khe Sanh” at number eight in a poll of the all-time best Australian songs. It still receives strong airplay on Australian radio stations with a “classic rock” format.
In August 2011, “Khe Sanh” re-entered the ARIA Singles Chart at #40, beating their previous peak position by one spot.
Edited Extracts from Wikipedia®