The Story Behind the Music

by James Speed Hensinger



A Picture From The War by Julian Saporiti.



MUSIC CREDIT:    The song, A Picture From The War is written and performed by Julian Saporiti. It is from his unmastered song collection, "No-No Boy."

Julian has told me that he recently found my long exposure photos of a night attack that took place in April of 1970 near Phu Tai, Vietnam and he was inspired to write the song based on my account of the events depicted in the photos. Julian Saporiti owns the © copyright on the song, its composition, and performance.

Julian says, "The beautiful thing about art, be it photography or music in our cases, is that they can travel and breathe and live with each new audience. Isn't it funny/tragic/beautiful how you, Jim, could be sent off to this place, across the world, and through your lens capture the horror of a war in such a terrifying, awesome, and compelling way and then, fifty years later, I, a Vietnamese American man, can find these photos online and be so inspired by the story and images to write a song which in turn helps me understand or cope with what happened to the land my family is from and had to leave because of this war. What I've found touring around and playing the songs from the No-No Boy project is that many different folks resonate with these songs and images, whether they be displaced people like my family, immigrants/refugees, or people whose fathers served, like you did. There is still so much to think about.

I'm sorry you had to see that in person, but I am glad you captured it so that people may see all that explicit violence, and excessive force rained down on a place which so many didn't even really know why they were there in the first place. It was a haunting experience to sit down with all the colors and terror and light which you amazingly captured, and to think about the man on the mountain at the center of all of that hell, and to think about the people at that base with you. I hope the sympathy for both sides, and my confusion for this part of my family's history, and American and Southeast Asian history, and your history, comes through in the song. I am grateful you set up your camera in that moment, and I hope those pictures touch people in an ultimately positive way. Thank you for your service, and your art."

Julian L. Saporiti
No-No Boy | Web site
Julian Saporiti | No No Boy (@NoNoBoyMusic) | Twitter
Julian Saporiti & Erin Aoyama | NPR Interview June 17,2018
Lecturer, University of Wyoming
PhD Student in American Studies, Brown University
MA in American Studies, Wyoming
MA in Ethnomusicology, Brown University





A Picture From The War



There was a man on a mountain hiding out amongst the boulders
He could have been my cousin. I think about his lovers
Passed a wicked month of nights above the base at Phu Tai
A terror in the twilight, rockets in the sky


I talked to Maurice the playwright about life and war
at a Korean cafe, spoke words like “air support”
and things I’d only heard in movies
or behind a cracked door
it’s weird when it’s real
it’s so weird that it’s real


Tear the mountain down
Rip lightening across his face
Tear the mountain down
Lay it all to waste


Looked like Apocalypse Now sans Robert Duvall
Unfathomable light like a Singapore mall
Red M60 tracers, anti-aircraft shots
for one VC with a Kalashnikov


Tear the mountain down
Rip lightening across her face
Tear the mountain down
Lay it all to waste


There was a man on the mountain hiding out up amongst the boulders
They found a light trail of blood, but they say he got away



Lyrics provided by Julian Saporiti 17JUN2018.






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James  Speed  Hensinger