After I finished Song for Saigon I spent a long time looking through my own photographs, trying to find one which encapsulated everything I was trying to say with the lyrics.
The image for the cover art of the single needed to convey a busy city, chaos, tranquility, people and traffic and shops and food, the beauty and the unlovely, the noise and quiet. It needed to say; ‘here is modern Saigon, as though a woman to be reckoned with, a city who has faced much and grown up, a person who moves on and moves up and forwards with modern times yet holds onto tradition against the odds. A place with two names and one heart, a home, a contradiction and an inspiration and a change.’
So the song covers a lot of ground!
After attempting the design myself and unsurprisingly failing miserably (mainly because I’m not a graphic designer or an expert photographer) I decided to look for ideally a local Vietnamese designer who might be able to put my words and music into a picture.
Then I met Nguyen Thi Kim Hue. She is a wonderfully modest and sweet person who was more than a little daunted by my over-descriptive and perhaps at times (!) confusing proclamations about what Song for Saigon is all about and how she might translate this into art please?
I wanted to share this process because Hue didn’t just produce one amazing image but several, and she managed to capture such a wonderful array of moments from life in Saigon that it was hard to select only one! In the end I chose the one we have because it contains the essence of the song in that you can see if you look closely the traditional long thin Vietnamese houses on the street as well as the modern Bitexco building looming behind a bustling night street scene full of motorbikes, people, shops, bars, restaurants, lights and life.
It is exactly what I was looking for and taken on a popular street in District 1, which is apt as that is where I lived when I started writing the song.
However the peaceful moments, the old, new, fast and slow pace and the construction and the calm and the chaos Hue found in these other images had to be shared as well. Because Song for Saigon is for the whole city with all of these scenes interwoven. Here are a few of my favourites, with my heartfelt thanks to Hue for taking a difficult brief and answering it with beauty.