Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)

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For the Donny Osmond song, see Soldier of Love.
"Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)"
Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms) label.jpg
Single by Arthur Alexander
A-side "Where Have You Been (All My Life)"
Released 1962
Genre Soul
Length 2:18
Label Dot Records
Writer(s) Buzz Cason, Tony Moon
Producer(s) Noel Ball (uncredited)[1]
Arthur Alexander singles chronology
"You Better Move On"
"Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)"
"Anna (Go to Him)"

"Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)," also known as "Soldiers of Love,"[2] is a 1962 song written by Buzz Cason and Tony Moon[3] that was originally recorded by soul artist Arthur Alexander and released as a single, with the B-side being "Where Have You Been (All My Life)." The song was later covered by The Beatles during a 1963 session at the BBC, that is available on the 1994 album Live at the BBC. It was also covered by The Kaisers, Marshall Crenshaw, Pearl Jam and The Derailers.


Music critic Dave Marsh suggests that "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)" may have been lost to history had the Beatles not heard it and recorded a cover version of it.[4] He writes that the song was mostly forgotten until a bootleg of the Beatles' recording emerged in the late 1970s.[4] Marsh describes Alexander's version of the song as having an "off-center Latin rhythm"[4] and his vocals as having a country and western music sound.[4] Marsh rates it as one of the top 1,001 singles of all time, praising its "inexorable rhythmic flow"[4] and the way the lyrics and music combine to create a "metaphor in which strife among lovers becomes a cry for universal peace."[4] Allmusic critic Richie Unterberger suggests that the mixing of love and martial metaphors is almost overdone, although the song manages to avoid sounding gimmicky.[2] Unterberger attributes this to the song's "fine sad" minor key melody, the "dignity" of Alexander's vocal, the exchanges between Alexander and the backup singers and the "restrained" string instruments.[2]

The Beatles version[edit]

"Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)"
Song by the Beatles from the album Live at the BBC
Released 1991
Recorded 1963
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 1:59
Label Apple Records
Writer(s) Buzz Cason, Tony Moon
Producer(s) George Martin

As early as 1962, The Beatles had been playing live versions of the songs on both sides of Alexander's 1963 single, with "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)" appearing on its A-side, and "Where Have You Been (All My Life)" appearing on its B-side.[5] They recorded a cover of Soldiers of Love on July 2, 1963, the day after recording the "She Loves You"/"I'll Get You" single.[5][6] Unterberger rates the Beatles' performance of the song as "fabulous," calling it probably "the greatest gem" on Live at the BBC.[7] Unterberger enumerates a number of ways in which the Beatles' recording differs from the original, such as the Beatles playing the main riff on guitar, while on Alexander's recording the riff was played on piano.[2] The Beatles also add vocal harmonies, which Unterberger describes as "excellent," and eliminate Alexander's "somber" violins.[2] Unterberger states that the cumulative effect of the differences is to make the Beatles' version "exuberant," compared to Alexander's sad version, claiming that it sounds "as if the Beatles expected to win over the woman as a matter of course, whereas there was a sense of desperate last-hope begging in Alexander's vocal."[2] Critic Robert Christgau calls it one the Beatles greatest covers.[8] Rolling Stone Magazine critic Anthony DeCurtis uses John Lennon's "crooning" on the song as an example of why Lennon was a great rock 'n' roll singer.[9] Author Ian MacDonald describes it as an "ideal vehicle for Lennon," who sings the lead vocal.[6] MacDonald also suggests that three songs from the Beatles 1963 album With the Beatles—"Not a Second Time", "It Won't Be Long" and "All I've Got to Do"—were influenced by "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)."[6]

Other covers[edit]

The song was also covered by Marshall Crenshaw on his 1982 debut album.[10] It was covered by Pearl Jam for the 1999 album, No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees, with their version appearing as a B-side to their cover of "Last Kiss".[11] Pearl Jam also played the song live and it has appeared on several of their live albums.[12] The song was also covered by The Derailers on their 2006 album Soldiers Of Love, which was produced by Cason.[13] Allmusic critic Rick Anderson regarded this version as being "fun" and "a sweetly kitschy gem."[13]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Younger, R. "Arthur Alexander". Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Unterberger, R. "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  3. ^ Allmusic: "Soldier of Love". Accessed 29 Nov 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Marsh, D. (1999). The Heart of Rock and Soul. Da Capo Press. pp. 352–353. ISBN 9780306809019. 
  5. ^ a b Everett, W. (2001). The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul. Oxford University Press. pp. 115, 178. ISBN 9780195141054. 
  6. ^ a b c MacDonald, I. (2007). Revolution in the Head. Chicago Review Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN 9781883052843. 
  7. ^ Unterberger, R. "Live at the BBC". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  8. ^ Christgau, R. "The Beatles". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  9. ^ DeCurtis, A. (January 25, 1991). "Live at the BBC". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  10. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "Marshall Crenshaw". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  12. ^ "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  13. ^ a b Anderson, R. "Soldiers of Love". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-27.