One Tin Soldier

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"One Tin Soldier"
One Tin Soldier Original Caste single cover.jpg
Single by The Original Caste
from the album One Tin Soldier
B-side"Live for Tomorrow"
ReleasedNovember 1969
Format7" single
Recorded1969
GenreFolk rock
Length3:38
LabelBell
Songwriter(s)Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter
The Original Caste singles chronology
"I Can't Make It Anymore"
(1968)
"One Tin Soldier"
(1969)
"Mr. Monday"
(1970)

"One Tin Soldier" is a 1960s counterculture era anti-war song written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. Canadian pop group The Original Caste first recorded the song in 1969 for both the TA label and its parent Bell label.

The song charted each year from 1969 to 1974 by various artists and on various charts in the United States and Canada. However, it did not chart outside North America.

"One Tin Soldier" went to number 6 on the RPM Magazine charts, hit the number 1 position on CHUM AM in Toronto on 27 December 1969, and reached number 34 on the American pop charts in early 1970. It was a bigger Adult Contemporary hit, reaching number 25 U.S. AC and number 5 Canada AC.[1]

In 1971, a cover was a hit in the U.S. for Coven, whose re-recording only featuring its lead singer Jinx Dawson was featured in the film Billy Jack. The single went to number 26 on the Billboard pop chart[2][3] before it was pulled from radio by the film's producer. On November 20, 1971, Coven performed "One Tin Soldier" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program American Bandstand. A re-recorded version by Coven made the Billboard chart in 1973, peaking at number 79.

In 1972, Skeeter Davis had moderate success with a cover version on the American country charts, but did very well in Canada, peaking at number 4 on the Canadian country chart and number 2 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.[4] Davis received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal for the song.

Harmony[edit]

The verse of "One Tin Soldier" has the same harmonic base as Pachelbel's Canon (I-V-VI-III-IV-I-IV-V). The chorus is a simple I-V-IV-I.[5] This fact was commented on by noted musical analyst Rob Parovonian.[6]

Lyrics synopsis[edit]

"One Tin Soldier" tells the story of two neighboring tribes, the warlike Valley People and the peaceful Mountain Kingdom which possesses a great treasure buried under a stone. The Valley People demand the treasure. The Mountain People respond that they will share it with "their brothers", but the Valley People invade and slaughter the Mountain People. On overturning the stone, they find nothing except the words "Peace On Earth" inscribed beneath it.

Cover version[edit]

"One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)"
One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack) - Coven.png
Single by Coven
from the album Original Sound Track Music from the Motion Picture "Billy Jack"
B-side"I Think You Always Knew (The Theme from Billy Jack)"
ReleasedSeptember 1971
Format7" single
Recorded1971
GenreFolk rock
Length3:18
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter
Producer(s)Mundell Lowe

Singer Jinx Dawson of the band Coven performed the song at a 1971 session with the film's orchestra as part of the soundtrack for the Warner Bros. film Billy Jack. Dawson asked that her band, Coven, be listed on the recording and film, not her name as a solo artist. This Warner release, titled as "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)", reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1971.[2][3]

The full Coven band then re-recorded the song for their self-titled MGM album, which displayed the band members' whited-out faces on the cover, contrived again by the film's producer Tom Laughlin. Coven hit the charts again with the song in 1973, in both the new MGM recording and a reissue of their Warner original. The Coven recording was named Number One All Time Requested Song in 1971 and 1973 by the American Radio Broadcasters Association.[citation needed]

Chart history[edit]

The Original Caste
Chart (1969-70) Peak
position
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[7] 5
Canada RPM Top Singles 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 34
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 25
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 34
Coven cover
Chart (1971) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles 22
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[9] 34
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10] 26
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 16
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 26
Skeeter Davis cover
Chart (1972) Peak
position
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[11] 2
Canada RPM Country 4
U.S. Billboard Country[12] 54
Coven (2nd charting)
Chart (1973) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[13] 79
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[14] 68
Coven (3rd charting)
Chart (1974) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles[15] 79
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[16] 73
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[17] 73

Other recordings[edit]

A version recorded by Guy Chandler (titled "One Tin Soldier [The Legend of Billy Jack]") was released in the summer of 1973.

A version of the song was done, sung by singer/actress Cher, with a video created by animator John David Wilson for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, which started with It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

Roseanne Barr parodied the song on her 1990 album I Enjoy Being a Girl.

The song has been covered by other artists, including Mad Parade, Gimp, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Bushman, and Killdozer. Actress Brittany Murphy, in character as Luanne Platter, sang the song on the King of the Hill soundtrack. This song was also covered by Voices for Peace, a band consisting of a group of voice actors including Greg Ayres and Tiffany Grant. Abigail and Milly Shapiro covered the song for their live album Live Out Loud.

The progressive bluegrass band Bluegrass Alliance covered the song at bluegrass festivals in the early 1970s.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1970-02-14. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  2. ^ a b Eduardo Rivadavia. "Coven | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
  3. ^ a b Casey Kasem's American Top 40 - The 70s from November 27, 1971
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1972-02-19. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  5. ^ "Listology". Listology.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  6. ^ "Pachelbel Analysis". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1970-02-14. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  8. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1971-11-06. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1972-02-19. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  13. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  14. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, August 18, 1973
  15. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1974-02-23. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  16. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  17. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, February 9, 1973
  18. ^ 1971 festival on YouTube

External links[edit]