Trịnh Công Sơn was born on 28 February, 1939 in Dak Lak Province in Vietnam and grew up in Hue: aged 10 he spent a year living in prison with his father. He studied western philosophy at the Lycée Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Saigon, graduating with a baccalaureate degree. In 1961 he studied psychology and pedagogy in a school for teachers, and after graduation taught in an elementary school.

He wrote over 500 songs and poems, many of which are love songs, others are war-songs, written during and about the Vietnam War. During the 1960s and 1970s many young Vietnamese considered him the Bob Dylan or Joan Baez of Vietnam. He came frequently under pressure from the government which was displeased with the pacificst lyrics of some of his songs. In 1968 he wrote ‘Joining Hands/Circle of Unity’ which dealt with the dream of national reconcilation between North and South: on the afternoon of April 30 1975, after the proclamation of surrender, he made a radio broadcast saying tha the national dream had been realized and that liberation had been achieved.

After reunification Sơn was sentenced to ‘retraining’ in a labour camp. He was eventually released and his often melancholy songs about love and postwar reconcilation became popular in later years. He died on 1 April 2001 and was buried in Hi Chi Minh city.

Trịnh Công Sơn’s Poems

Resources for Trịnh Công Sơn

The Eversky website has numerous songs translated into English alongside Vietnamese recordings and videos