Song Lyric Sunday – “One Tin Soldier”

This week Jim Adams has prompted us with choosing songs involving John or Jack for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday.

This week I chose a song that works a little outside the prompt box. It does not have John or Jack in the title or in the lyrics. It is the theme song to the 1971 movie called “Billy Jack”. If you haven’t seen this movie and you believe in the greater good and bad cops need to be held accountable, this movie is for you. It is available on Netflix. You can also watch the full version on your computer at this link.

I saw this movie at the Drive-In when I was 6 years old. Now you would think I wouldn’t remember much about it and you would be right, mostly. I don’t remember if the popcorn was any good (probably not), but I can tell you that “Billy Jack” was my first hero and left an impact on my life. It taught me values that have stuck with me since that time. He was the first “Bad Ass” I ever witnessed. I’m labeled as a white female but my ancestry is a Heinz 57 of Irish, English, Native American and who knows what else. One day I will order a DNA test to find out exactly. Growing up in Texas, I saw a lot of unfairness and racism, however I wasn’t the target…my friends were. My black and brown friends were and most of the time I could only watch. My big mouth couldn’t compensate for my physical smallness and I often got hurt (pushed to the ground) for defending my friends. Maybe this is what led me to join the Marine Corps when I was 18.

I am the law…Billy Jack

“Billy Jack” is an independent film and the second of four films about a character of the same name. The first movie was “The Born Losers”, an American outlaw biker film in 1967 introducing Tom Laughlin as Billy Jack. Laughlin had been trying to get his script produced called “Billy Jack” about the discrimination towards American Indians.

“Filming began in Prescott, Arizona, in the fall of 1969, but the movie was not completed until 1971. Original filming location credits which were left out originally include: Plaza Santa Fe NM, Bandelier Indian Reservation NM, and Taos NM. American International Pictures pulled out, halting filming. 20th Century-Fox came forward and filming eventually resumed but when that studio refused to distribute the film, Warner Bros. stepped forward.”

From wikipedia

Inequality in America and around the world has been a division between “us and them” for centuries, but there shouldn’t be any “us and them”. There has been some kind of division of right and wrong, left and right, good vs. evil, and the lack of equality for all humans. The recent killings have only escalated those inequalities in the past few weeks with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arberty. A reminder to us all that things have to change. We could use a “Billy Jack” on our side right now to stand up for change, disband the bullies and protect everyone no matter what their skin color, sexual orientation or if they are poor and homeless. Everyone needs a hero!

The Original Caste

The plot of the movie is Billy Jack is a “half breed” American Navajo, a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran and a hapkido master. To put it mildly, a low-key “Bad Ass”. He didn’t take any crap from anyone who abused their power or authority. He leveled the scales of injustice. He was the defender of the wild Mustangs, Indian Reservations and the hippie-themed Freedom School (inspired by Prescott College).

Plot Continues

“A group of children of various races from the school go to town for ice cream and are refused service and then abused and humiliated by Bernard Posner (David Roya), the son of the county’s corrupt political boss (Bert Freed), and his gang. This prompts a violent outburst by Billy. Later, Jean is raped by Bernard, who also murders a Native American student. Billy confronts Bernard, whom he catches in bed with a 13-year-old girl, and sustains a gunshot wound before killing him with a hand strike to the throat. After a climactic shootout with the police and pleading with Jean, Billy Jack surrenders to the authorities in exchange for a decade-long guarantee that the school will be allowed to continue to run with Jean as its head. As Billy is driven away in handcuffs, a large crowd of supporters raise their fists as a show of defiance and support.”

From Wikipedia
Covered by Jinx Dawson, lead vocalist of Coven – re-recorded for “Billy Jack”

“One Tin Soldier” came out during the Vietnam War when there were anti-war protests spreading peace and love. The lyrics tell the story of two neighboring tribes, the warlike Valley People & the peaceful Mountain Kingdom. The Mountain People possessed a great treasure buried under a stone and wanted to share it with “their brothers”. The Valley People didn’t want to share so they invaded and killed all the Mountain People. When they overturned the stone, they found no money or gold. All they found were the words, “Peace on Earth” inscribed beneath it.

SONG FACTS

  • Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter.
  • The Canadian pop group The Original Caste first recorded it in 1969 for the TA label and its parent Bell Label.
  • The song reached #6 on the RPM Magazine Charts, #1 on CHUM AM in Toronto, #5 on Canada AC and #34 on American pop charts.
  • The re-recorded single by Jinx Dawson, lead vocalist of Coven went to #26 on the Billboard pop chart before it was pulled from radio by the film’s producer.
  • The film grossed $10 million in its initial run, but added almost $50 million in its re-release.

“One Tin Soldier”

One tin soldier
Listen people to a story
That was written long ago,
'bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folks below.
On the mountain was a treasure
Hidden deep beneath a stone,
And the valley people swore
They'd have it for their very own.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing,
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.
So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill,
Asking for the buried treasure
Tons of gold for which they'd kill.
Came the answer from the kingdom,
With our brothers we will share,
All the riches of the mountain,
All the treasure buried there.
Now the valley cried with anger,
Mount your horses, draw your swords
And they killed the mountain people,
So they won their just rewards
Now they stood before the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
Peace on earth, was all it said.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat and friend,
Do it in the name of heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Dennis Earle Lambert / Brian Potter
One Tin Soldier - Re-Recording lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

15 Comments on “Song Lyric Sunday – “One Tin Soldier”

  1. So many of us found an heroic icon of sorts in the Billy Jack films. Rest assured, though Tom Laughlin studied Hapkido for six months in preparation for the film, Hapkido Master Bong Soo Han choreographed the fight scenes, along with serving as Laughlin’s body double during these scenes. Not the best movie I ever saw, but one definitely worth watching over and over. Lots of valuable messages in the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa, Billy Jack is my hero! I love the movie, even though a lot of sad/bad things happen in it. Billy Jack is champion in my book. I remember watching a video clip of an interview someone did with Tom Laughlin and they were talking about his hat and how it was chosen. The song is perfect for the movie and I’m glad you highlighted both of them today ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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