One Tin Soldier

Back at camp I used to sing the song “One Tin Soldier” around the campfire. I always liked that song. I’ve never herd it outside that camp, and always used to thikn it was something one of the counslers made up. Recently though I was on napster and discovered, much to my suprise, that it was a real song. I downloaded some of the versions of it, and was horrified. No one knew how to sing ihe song properly. However, thats not my question. I looked on the internet, and found this. I’ve always figured that the One Tin Soldier was humanity, or something like that, but now its supossed to be BIlly Jack? What is going on here? What has happened to my beatiful camp song? Its really a song about a Vietnam vet?

I don’t know what you mean about singing the song properly. I d/l’d some stuff from Napster, and they all sound (with minor variations) just like the song I always sang at camp.

Also, your link doesn’t go to a page on the song. You might want to fix that.

Yeah thanks a lot that was my first attempt at HTML, and unfortunatly was a failed one. The correct link should be this here. I wasn’t very clear. When I said it wasn’t sung properly I meant that it just didn’t have the campy feeling that it always had. Maybe I’m being too nostalgic(sp?) for my own good.

Well, the original didn’t have a campy feeling in the first place. The song is from the movie “The Legend of Billy Jack”, which, while campy now, was earnest in its sincerity back then. The song was originally sung by a group called Coven.

Ugh, we had to sing “One Tin Soldier” at school Masses. And I went to a Catholic school.

Stupid Vatican II and its relevance.

Anyway, we stopped singing it after about 1975. I believe we sang it because it had that “Peace on Earth” theme to it.

We also sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” which had the distinct advantage of being a good song.

The song was the main title song for Billy Jack, but it wasn’t the origin of it, IIRC.

I thought it was always just a typical late-60’s, early-70’s peacenik song about intolerance. Which was of course the plot of Billy Jack, but the whole mountain people/ valley people thing was just part of the song.

AWB’s right. The song (1969) was out before the movie (1971) was ever released. While the song does not compare with, say, Handel’s Messiah, it is a neat little song (certainly suitable for campfires). The movie was unadulterated drek.

It was swill, but it was good swill. I will always remember Billy Jack as the first movie I ever saw naked breasts in (but only for a moment). So much for social relevance.


I’ve always loved that song. I need to find the chords so I can learn to play it on my guitar . . .

Especially with the link to Billy Jack, I always thought it was a metaphor for the Europeans taking North America from the Indians. The people of the valley demand the treasure, the people who have it say they are willing to share it equally, so the others slaughter them to get it all.

Just my take . . .


Why do you care that the song was the theme song for a movie (and one that’s mostly deservedly forgotten)? What does that have to do with the quality of the song? The song wasn’t written for the movie. Even if it was, why do you think that permanently defines the meaning of the song? The song stands on its own merits, which have nothing to do with the films it was used in and the campfires it was sung at. The worse that I can say about it is that it makes some rather obvious points about war and greed.

Wendell I really don’t care that Billy Jack stole my beloved song I was just suprised to see that it was a main theme for a movie. I’m more interested in people’s interpretations of the song. I’ve had long discussions with my friends about who the One Tin Soldier is. So far we’ve come up with humanity, the devil, and the last soldier alive. I would like to hear other people’s takes on it.