It's perhaps Cold Chisel's most well-known song, but when Don Walker wrote Khe Sanh he wasn't expecting anyone would ever see the lyrics.
The band's piano player and main songwriter, Walker wrote the tune while Cold Chisel were just another band playing the traps but without a record deal.
No record deal equals no lyric sheet in an album - and no-one seeing Walker's words about a returned Vietnam vet.
"There was no possibility that anyone would see these lyrics let alone sing them," Walker says.
"We were still several years shy of a record contract and all indications from the Australian music industry were that we would never ever get a record contract or get to make a record."
They did get to make that record - and many others - and Walker has gone on to write hundreds of songs.
Many of those have been sung by sweaty punters in the front row of a Chisel show. Now they can read them as well, in a new book of Walker's lyrics, simply called Songs.
And the first lyrics in the book? Khe Sanh.
"If you're going to write a book try and kick off with a bang," Walker explains.
There is one thing about Khe Sanh that once caused problems for Walker; it's historically inaccurate. The Vietnam battle of Khe Sanh was an American fight; there were no Australian forces there.
The band had been playing it in pubs for while, where the audience probably couldn't hear all the lyrics.
So the inaccuracy wasn't a problem for Walker until they landed a record deal and people would get to really hear those words.
"By that stage it worried me a great deal because I thought I was going to get laughed at - and it would have been justified," Walker says.
"It didn't happen [but] It does worry me now. The only important audience in this are veterans and I know that the song, as far as I have heard, resonates with veterans and I never heard a complaint about the historical inaccuracy of the song."
John Schumann - who wrote the Redgum classic I Was Only 19 - has been playing Khe Sanh. But he changed the location to Long Tan, a battle featuring Australian forces.
"He rang me up one day a long time ago and asked if I minded if he did that," Walker remembers.
"I said not only was it absolutely okay with me but 'good on you'."
Putting a selection of Walker's lyrics into book form was something Walker's publishers had been keen on for some time, but he had always resisted.
"Lyrics are part of a song and there is an argument that you need to get the whole song," he says.
"But on the other hand, for decades I've been printing lyrics on album covers and people have been quoting the printed version of the song, and I thought, 'Don, you're being a bit pedantic here .. Print the lyrics'."
As well as songs from his Cold Chisel catalogue, Songs also includes lyrics from his solo effort Catfish, his days as part of Tex, Don and Charlie and those he wrote for other people.
Sitting on the page, unaccompanied by music, the lyrics do take on the appearance of poetry - but don't go calling Walker a poet.
"I've always very much avoided any pretensions to being a poet - I'm a songwriter," he says.
"A songwriter is completely different, but from what I'm told these lyrics, when they're sitting on the page and you don't know the song, that reading them one after the other still makes a lot of sense.
"It's very hard for me to see whether that's the way of it at all because I can't read the lyrics without hearing the music."
When it comes to writing, sometimes Walker has a set of lyrics he needs to match music too; other times, the music's there and he has to find some words that fit.
"By and large I work on lyrics and the music comes easily," he says.
"There have been other cases where I've had a piece of music beforehand, either written by me or someone else, and I've had to write lyrics to that."
One example of that is the popular Chisel song Flame Trees; drummer Steve Prestwich came up with the music and then passed it over to Walker to come up with some words.
"Thinking up the lyrics that matched that music didn't happen for a good 18 months," Walker says.
"There's no point in sitting down and trying to force it. You may never think of the idea that matches the feeling the music gives.
"And then one day, if it happens, you know that it's the right thing and then you just have to work on it and do the craft."
That song features a phrase in the chorus - "set fire to the town" - that also pops up in an early Cold Chisel song.
It's not an indication of any hidden pyromaniac tendencies of Walker's, nor was he subconsciously stealing from himself.
It was done very deliberately, as a way of reflecting Cold Chisel's rise and fall.
"As Cold Chisel was just starting to take off, after we'd been together for a few years, I wrote a song called Merry-go-round and it's got this phrase in it 'I'm going to set fire to the town'," Walker says.
"We played that every night as we went from clubs to stadiums and every town around the place both here and overseas.
"Flame Trees was a song that was written at the end of our career, pretty much as we were breaking up. Because that phrase had been such a fixture of our live shows I just decided to revisit that phase in a later song.
"It only appears in two songs, once at the beginning of our ascent and once when the band was in a death dive."
The book divides the lyrics into eras, and Walker has written a short intro to each section. One refers to the first Chisel reunion in the late 1990s - "...I resolved to not go near that again soon, if ever".
But he has gone back to Chisel - several times. At the moment they're working on new material for an album, which will be followed by a tour next year.
Walker says things have become more harmonious since that first reunion in the late 1990s - "we had to get old to do that".
If you go to one of those shows next year, don't expect to catch Walker in a moment of pride as the fans sing back words he wrote.
He'll be too busy to worry about anything else that's going on.
"I'm really utterly focused in those moments on not screwing up what I'm playing," he says.
"In Cold Chisel, I'm at the back of the stage and there's usually a sea of faces stretching out to the horizon. I'm really focusing on what I'm doing, on what either Steve in the old days or Charlie Drayton now is doing on the kit next to me, locking into that.
"Every now and then I get to look up and see this movie out there that mainly Jim and Ian are handling, and I'm looking at this movie from the opposite direction to everybody else.
"I just think 'oh shit, that's all happening out there! Okay back to the real goods of what I'm supposed to be doing'."
- Songs is available now, as is a hardback reprint of Don Walker's earlier book Shots.