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 track went to number 6 on the RPM Magazine charts and hit the number 1 position on CHUM AM in Toronto, and reached number 34 on the American pop charts in early 1970.
In 1971, the song was a hit in the U.S. for Coven, whose recording was featured in the film Billy Jack. The single went to number 26 on the Billboard pop chart before it was pulled from radio by the film’s producer. A re-recorded version by Coven made the Billboard chart in 1973, peaking at number 79.
A 1972 remake by Skeeter Davis had moderate success 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. Davis received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal for the song.
The verse of “One Tin Soldier” is based on Pachelbel’s Canon (I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V). The chorus is a simple I-V-IV-I.
“One Tin Soldier” tells the story of a hidden treasure and two neighbouring peoples; the peaceful Mountain People and the warlike Valley People. The Mountain People possess a treasure on the mountain, buried under a stone. The Valley People send a message to the Mountain People demanding it.
The Mountain People reply with an offer: they are willing to share the treasure with the Valley People. However, the Valley People instead decided to take it all by force, and in doing so kill all the Mountain People. The Valley People then move the stone and find only a simple message: “Peace on Earth”. (source Wikipedia)
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