How we made the pop song 19 by Paul Hardcastle and Ken Grunbaum

 

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'Paul played me a rough version. When I heard that 'N-n-n-nineteen' hook I thought: What the heck?

All my life I wanted to be a motorbike racer, until I had a bad crash and ended up in hospital for four months. While I was bedridden I listened to the radio all the time, especially clubby stuff, and thought: "I can do that." So I swapped my video camera for a friend's synthesiser and did.

Then, one night, I was watching TV and happened to tape a documentary – it was ABC's Vietnam Requiem – about the war. When I watched it back, what struck me was how young the soldiers were: the documentary said their average age was 19. I was out having fun in pubs and clubs when I was 19, not being shoved into jungles and shot at. One line – "None of them received a hero's welcome" – really struck a chord. When the soldiers came home, people wondered what had happened to the smiling kids who went out there. What did they expect if they'd been through that shit?

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