Billy Joel did not fight in the Vietnam War. He thought about fleeing to Canada when the draft lottery came around, but he snagged a very high number and didn't wind up getting called. "A lot of my friends did go," he said. "I felt bad. I disagreed with the political reasons for that war."
A few years after his friends came home, he had some beers with them and they told their war stories and encouraged him to write a song. "They said, 'We'll tell you what happened to us and you write a song about it,'" Joel recalled. "I realized you don't have to have lived it as long as you researched it and talked to people that were there." He didn't want to write an anti-war song, opting instead to talk about the experience of soldiers. The result was "Goodnight Saigon" from his 1982 LP The Nylon Curtain. The single never rose above Number 56 in America, but it's since become one of his most popular songs in concert.