One tin soldier will ride away

This song was for an movie that became a leftist icon. How ironic that the lyrics now speak to the right.

Because the left’s politics of hate, envy and greed — all done dishonestly in the name of heaven — will end badly. On judgment day, our nation of liberty will be gone. Just one tin soldier will ride away. Listen HERE.

Listen children to a story
That was written long ago
Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folk below.
On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath the stone.
And the valley people swore
They’d have it for their very own.

So 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.
But on the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.

So the people from the valley
Sent a message up the hill,
Asking for the buried treasure
Tons of gold for which they’d kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom
“With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of the mountain
All the riches 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 beside the treasure
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
“Peace on earth” was all it said.

So 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.
But on the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.

37 thoughts on “One tin soldier will ride away

  1. Glenn, our nation of “Liberty” has long-been gone.
    For, nearly 70-million unborn.
    For, over 70 Christians -mostly women and children- at Waco.
    For, Vicki and little Sammy Weaver at Ruby Ridge.
    For, the countless “Down-winders” of Trinity Site, N.M.
    For, the 4th-class citizenry/Worker Ant Latino and Native Americans.

    !Dios lo ve TODO!
    Too much, too little, too late.
    Psalm 149:Seven-9 in 2021.

    • Nice. To your catalogue of the lost, I’ll add the name of Ashli Babbitt, murdered by government without acknowledgement or regard in the Nation’s Capitol on January 6, during the “insurrection” that never was.

      • Undoubtedly, an excessive, cold-blooded and cowardly act. For far too-long, agents of the U.S. “Government” have -literally- gotten away with murder. Meanwhile, exposing the old “No one is above the Law” deception. Although nearly $2-Billion in damages to mostly small-businesses occurred during the “Peaceful Protests” of 2020, nearly zero justice was pursued. Yet, break some windows, take some selfies and carry a lectern and it’s a full-fledged “Insurrection”?

        Be not further deceived: Justice, true Justice, shall be surprising, severe and indefensible – Psalm 58:10-11

      • Psalm 58 makes “Tin Soldier” read like the work of a kindergartner — especially in the King James, when English was English! Naturally the Catholic Church omitted it from the Liturgy of the Hours after the Second Vatican Council — it’s too good, I guess.

        Thanks for the reference. In the current context it’s a comfort to read.

  2. Good song … but a terrible cheesy movie that is so bad, it’s actually sort of good and funny to watch.

    Billy Jack … 1970’s liberalism’s epitome of the Great White Savior. Oh … how many of these self-righteous white leftists fantasize about saving minorities from the oppressive ruling class and/or even saving them from themselves? Apparently lots as we now see groups like Black Lives Matter mostly composed and run by over-educated white female graduate students with degrees in gender studies or Marxist economics.

    I remember other movies with similar themes from that era, like A Man Called Horse, in which white saviors came to the rescue of “noble savages” from the dominant Western culture.

    Billy Jack, a former Special Forces soldier, came to the rescue of a group of Indian students and a bunch of hippie teenagers smoking dope, dropping acid, getting knocked up in drug orgies, and performing “psycho-drama” skits.

    Anyways … a strange, bizarre, cheesy and bad movie to watch. I rank it up there with other movies like Robot Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space. Except Billy Jack contains all of the left wing propaganda from 50 years ago. Robot Monster and Plan 9 are just really really bad sci-fis. These movies are so bad that they are good, in a bad and rotten cheesy kind of way.

    • Sure, the movie is cheesy in a good way. (Though Billy Jack was not a “white savior” as you suggest, but was a Vietnam vet half-Indian.)

      But I think you’re seeing the song too narrowly. To me, it’s about the politics of envy, greed and hate — things that threaten America today.

      • “Billy Jack” the part Indian fictional movie character, was portrayed by actor Tom Laughlin, a son of Wisconsin parents with a rather Celtic sounding surname.

        I remember reading he tried running for US President a few times as a peace and nuclear disarmament candidate for both the Democrat and Republican parties … he was more of a gadfly and received few votes.

        I think the actor Laughlin was exercising his White Savior Complex through his fictional character Billy Jack.

        In more recent times we still see this similar theme in more current movies like Dances With Wolves and Avatar.

        Hollywood’s white liberal establishment has long loved their White Savior Complex themed movies … though I think that gig is coming to an end because many in the POC communities are calling this out as both condescending and tinged with white supremacy, even if it is for “good.”

        Joe Biden obviously demonstrates a White Savior Complex. Remember when he said during the campaign that if you’re black and don’t vote Democrat then you’re not black? Biden apparently only sees blacks as noble if they vote for him, their White Savior. Blacks exercising free agency are apostates … much in the same manner the Left and Democrats referred to US Senator Tim Scott as “Uncle Tim.”

        The idea that people of color need a white leader to show them the way to betterment, freedom or justice just belittles these people as helpless and in need of a savior, or as Hollywood likes, a liberal white savior.

      • Wow, you’re finding a lot more here than I am, DogByte.

        You say Tom Laughlin was “exercising his White Savior Complex through his fictional character Billy Jack.” Are you suggesting that the actor, Tom Laughlin, was also the scriptwriter and director? For the record, he wasn’t.

        In any event, I get your point, but I think you’re stretching to make it and I don’t think it’s relevant to mine. I don’t need to reduce this to us vs them. The issue to me is not whether “The-Billy-Jack-movies-were-bad-because-they-were-a-product-of-leftism.”

        I don’t speak tribal.

      • OK, DogByte, you got me. Laughlin was a director and a scriptwriter according to IMDB. Notably, however, he was not the writer or singer of One Tin Soldier, the subject of my post.

        I still think you’re stretching to find a lefty theme in the song. To me, the song illustrates the folly of the violence, envy and greed we see today among the left in their shameless persecution of the right.

        But we’re all entitled to our own interpretations of the song. Good songs, like good literature, are that way.

      • I have always thought the the song One Tin Soldier and the movie Billy Jack are linked; intertwined together. The song was prominently played at the beginning of the movie (the round-up of the wild horses) and at the end with all of the left-wing hippie teens and Indian students putting up pseudo-fascist fist salutes to Billy Jack as he was taken away by law enforcement.

        The song and the movie are very interconnected. The song was re-recorded and covered by a different band (Coven) to be played in the Billy Jack movie. It was this version that made it to the Billboard Top 100 after the movie was released. This “One Tin Soldier” version is frequently also referred to as “The Legend of Billy Jack.”

        Glenn … I’m not purposefully trying to pick at this with you. I was born in 1964 and while I was a small kid in the 70s when this film came out, I can remember my friends and I playing fake martial arts with each other like Billy Jack. Not understanding anything about the political messages of the movie, we just wanted to pretend to be Billy Jack just like we also pretended to be the Six Million Dollar Man.

        Back then that song was all over the radio after the movie came out. The song and the movie were inextricably tied together in the early 70s era. I also remember liking the song then as a kid like all my friends did as well. We were all just really young and really naive and we didn’t understand the political aspects and propaganda put forth in the movie Billy Jack. We just thought Billy Jack was a bad ass Kung-fu or karate expert who beat up a bunch of town bullies. That was cool and we would play fight each other as if we were Billy Jack or Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris.

        The film was extremely propagandistic from a far left-wing point of view. There is also (for me) that undeniable association between the song and the movie. If we were playing the word association game in which you say a word and then I say the first thing that comes to my mind … then if you said “One Tin Soldier” I would immediately think and reply “Billy Jack.” Or the vice-versa … if you said “Billy Jack” then I would immediately think and reply “One Tin Soldier.”

        Anyways … Glenn, I know you come at this from an honest and righteous point of view. The song, or better yet, the poem warns against tribalism that can tear apart and destroy our country. That very much seems to be happening right now.

        Unfortunately, Laughlin and his co-producer and co-star hippie wife hijacked this song for their own political purposes and featured it prominently in their 70s exploitation movie.

        In the meantime, wishing you a good day and an even better weekend.

        : )

  3. I don’t do well with pop verse, so I give up — who or what is the tin soldier, and why is there only one?

    As for politics “done cynically in the name of heaven,” except for the legion of leftist faux Catholics — Biden, Pelosi, Cuomo, half of our bishops, et al — the Dems are too cynical to do anything in the name of a Heaven which, like Hell, for them does not exist. As for Trump, I saw nothing cynical there — ask Franklin Graham, ask Archbishop Vigano, ask any man of good will who can get beyond Trump’s petty vices.

    Otherwise, the general Apocalyptic tenor of the piece is appropriate enough. Pop prophecy comes from the same place as biblical prophecy, I suppose.

    • I dunno, Chad. Who do you think is the one tin soldier that rides away and why is there only one?

      OK, I’ll admit that the song is ambiguous. I like that in poetry and song. As a lawyer, I learned to show the dots but let the jury connect them. That makes them think it was their idea all along. Good poetry does the same.

      • During voir dire, Glenn, I always claimed I couldn’t connect dots, but attorneys put me on their juries anyway 😁.

        A tin soldier is one who plays at soldiering. So why should even one such poser get to ride away on the day of judgment? Is this guy like Ishmael at the end of Moby Dick, or something — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” ?

        Anyway, I probably should’ve seen the movie, but 50 years ago I must’ve been working — I never heard of the movie, or song, until now. Cultural illiteracy, or what?

      • Don’t feel bad, Chad. I was 55 before I realized that the CCR song contained the line “There’s a bad moon on the rise” and not “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

      • I loved your comment about “There’s a bathroom on the right.” I played in a garage band in high school that played that song. The only reason I knew the real song title was that I had the 45 rpm from which we learned the song. I saw Billy Jack in the theater when it first came out (and a couple of times since then on video). I liked the movie and remember singing along with the song when it came on the radio. I didn’t overthink the song. I took it as a “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” kind of thing. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  4. Glenn,
    The united States didn’t get this way overnight. It’s been on this road for decades. Just about everyone ignored it

    Now, it’s here and we’ll reach bottom well before the climb out of the quicksand can begin. Those of us that recognized it are ready but the mass is going to suffer greatly before the right lessons are again learnt.

    Colorado will likely suffer as much as any. There’s just too many of the unapologetic idiots in this state, anymore.

    • Oh what memories of that film and that song. And yes it was a bit cheesy with stereotypes, the father who didn’t understand his daughter sleeping around being protected for example. But there was a good message and Billy Jack was definitely eye candy for teen girls.

      Aside from that, look at the complete garbage that wins Academy Awards, Parasite or Shape of Water anyone? Billy Jack is memorable and in a good way. Not so much the two mentioned previously.

  5. You don’t recognize that it was political to start with. As much as we loved Bill Jack at the time, it was an anti-war counter culture flick, exploitation of the day. It was the second outing for the Character of Billy Jack who first appeared in The Born Losers and fits the parameter Mr. Dogbyte6RER makes above only he is straightening out a Biker Gang in that one. The vehicle was to show the implicit Racism of the day and paint Vietnam as a bad endeavor, remember the Trial of Billy Jack came next. An honest look at the Hollywood pulp mill at the time anti-war flicks and Government as the Evil Empire was getting going. Oh today we owe a lot of woe to the Pop Culture presentations of idealistic everything except the Ugly American. the 60’s legacy has never fully worn it’s responsibility. Here’s the link on the song, it was written as for Prot3est. Mr. Beaton, did you know the KGB Funded the World Peace Conference in the early 60’s and retired agents in their memoirs claimed the American Anti-War movement was one of their greatest achievements, credit where credit is due. It’s also a time period where Hollywood formed their sense Moral Superiority. We can enjoy things of the era but know their origin and intent. Tom and his wife were activists, self proclaimed and it was a cheesy cult film that can make you cringe watching it today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Tin_Soldier

    • MASH the TV show was no different, Leftist Idealism goes to War in Korea, the movie basically showed Doctors like to have a good time. Neither showed the destruction of the aggressive concurring Army of the North, just like in Vietnam.

      • I don’t disagree with any of that. (In particular, I really hated MASH even in its heyday, as it seemed like crude propaganda and not even particularly funny.)

        But that’s not what my post is about. My post is about the lyrics of a song. To me, those lyrics capture beautifully the violence, envy and intolerance we currently see among the left.

        If the song was for a movie whose message was that it was the right that was in the wrong back when it was written, that doesn’t invalidate the message that violence, intolerance and envy are wrong. If anything, it makes the message more compelling by illustrating the irony.

        Stated another way, a principled message is not wrong merely because the person delivering it was in the wrong. To hold otherwise is to succumb to tribalism at the expense of truth.

  6. A white male studies hard in school and gets good grades and a scholarship to a top university where he graduates with honors with a degree that gets him a good paying job. He works hard at his job and makes his employers a lot of money with his good ideas and skill, and as a consequence gets promoted to upper management, and/or he makes contact with a venture capitalist who likes his ideas and offers to fund a new company that goes on to develop a popular product or service that earns the company and its shareholders billions and employs thousands in good paying jobs, and our man makes the cover of the business magazines as CEO or entrepreneur of the year as the article extols his accomplishments and his high salary and millions in stock options or shares that make him one of the richest men in the country. Or change the story a bit and make him a hard working and skilled writer of best selling books, songs, or computer software. Or make him a highly educated, hard working, and productive scientist, doctor, or engineer who earns a nice living by inventing/creating/designing new medicines, life saving surgical techniques, or beautiful and functional buildings, bridges, and vehicles. Or make him a highly skilled teacher, airline pilot, craftsman, soldier, or cop who becomes a valued member of his community and makes those he serves more knowledgeable, safe, and comfortable. Millions of people like this man create a prosperous and free country with opportunities and quality of life that are unprecedented in history and the envy of the world.

    Now let the envious people who have not studied hard in challenging fields, not put in long hours managing, inventing, or creating anything of value, and not helped or saved anyone and allow them to create a new narrative that makes this man into a thief, exploiter, rapist, or unfairly privileged because he is male and white and born in a country that 50 or 200 years before did some things that are today considered unfair or unethical. Use this narrative to create new rules and norms that take away his scholarships, his career, his promotions, and his wealth in order to check his privileges and correct historical wrongs and instead give them to “victims” who have done nothing to earn them beyond being born with dark skin, or lady parts, or confusion about gender, or illegally immigrate from a less prosperous and enlightened country. I wonder which tin soldier will ride away?

  7. “Because the left’s politics of hate, envy and greed — all done dishonestly in the name of heaven — will end badly. On judgment day, our nation of liberty will be gone. Just one tin soldier will ride away.”

    The song and movie were intended to mean something else when written. The message of the song is very applicable today, kind of like V for Vendetta. That movie was intended to throw shade on conservatives, but rather looks like liberal projection. And it has the added feature of using a pandemic to install government control over all. The prophecies of V have been fulfilled by the left, not the right.

    • Projection is the correct description. One of the issues that drives me nuts is how the media, Democrats, and academics always label Nazi Germany as “far right” and every Republican administration as “Nazi” when any objective observer would note that the Nazis loved big government, big taxes, big regulation, approved of abortion, and enacted a generous welfare state, and were the first big environmentalists, as well as obsessed with race and ethnicity. The Nazis also hated capitalism, gun rights, free-elections, free speech, and a free press, and these are all traits of the far Left and only exceeded in Leftness by Soviet style Communism. Before Hitler invaded the USSR the only criticism the Leftist media and academics had of him was he hadn’t gone as far as Stalin in nationalizing industry and farming, but once he attacked Stalin and details of his Jewish/Gypsy policies became known the Leftist had to disassociate themselves from National Socialism, and all of a sudden the history books and newspapers described Nazis as Far Right.

      The only accurate description of Far Right involves minimal government intrusion with low regulation, low taxes, low redistribution, with the main function of government being the protection of citizen freedoms and rights, and it very difficult for such a minimalist type of government to set up a police state and labor/re-education/extermination camps that are features of EVERY communist government in history. In fact, the only Right Wing “police state” in world history is the Pinochet government in Chile, where he locked up the Communists with a very minimal body count, instituted Milton Friedman economic policies, got the country in the best economic shape in its history, and then allowed free and fair elections that ousted him from office. No wonder the Leftists hate him so much.

  8. I keep getting asked the question, “So who’s the one tin soldier?”

    It’s Christ.

    You say, “But wait, Christ offered to take all those who wanted to go!”

    Yes, precisely right. And nobody else wanted to.

    • Huh. Yes, Christ is a soldier — a warrior along the lines of Odysseus, who has returned to reclaim His Kingdom, His Creation, which, as you say, rejects him — but a TIN soldier? By definition, this would make him either
      (a) a toy soldier, suggesting that God the Father has sent him into a strangely conceived military campaign from which he must be extracted by way of The Resurrection; or
      (b) a person who merely plays at soldiering, for which he is ill-equipped, and who achieves, at best, a bizarre kind of victory that many regard as a defeat.

      But (a) makes for bad theology, since Christ IS God, not God’s plaything or subordinate tool. And (b) makes Christ inept, a bungler who winds up on a Cross and “rides away” alone.

      As for the chemical qualities of tin, yes, it’s soft and easily cut, making it representative of Christ’s vulnerability, but the crosses I see on altars are fashioned out of gold or silver, which are representative of his strength, beauty, and value. I’ve never seen a tin crucifix.

      So I don’t “get” the songwriter’s image. He’s got “a tin ear.”

      • It’s fair to say the songwriter is no theologian, or maybe he’s one whose theology is unencumbered by theological teachings. In any event, I like the message, the words and the imagery

      • Chad, a most thoughtful and truthful reply indeed. Despite Dr. Beaton’s often well-written, moments of brilliance, after reading his perspective on the song’s Tin Soldier and The Most Holy and Eternal Savior of The World Christ King Yeshua, I opted to avoid a full-blown theological dissertation.

        Be clear: As the last known Priest in The Order of Melchizedek, I am a humble subordinate to The Most High Priest of Melchizedek, The Most Divine and Risen Christ King Yeshua. Not unlike My Blessed Forefather -and Melchizedek Priest- King David, I serve within a Warrior-Priest dichotomy. While, laymen and even some theologians are confounded by these seemingly contrasting duties, in both, the Physical and Spiritual realms, this is a battle-ready reality: The Lamb, or The Lion – at His service.

        For many years prior to entering into the Davidic Covenant of my forefathers, I wrote, produced and performed Hip Hop music. Although, as a child and teenager during America’s apex, the 1970’s, I was blessed to be exposed to some of the greatest Music of modern times. In all honestly? While the anti-war and brotherhood message of “One Tin Soldier” was extremely noble and appealing, I always thought the song bordered on, well, cheesy.

        The mysterious “One Tin Soldier”? Perhaps, not unlike the “Paper Tiger” or the “War-Room Generals”, who so zealously advocate War, while never getting near a battlefield. Always the agitator, beating the war-drum the loudest, and when body-count is through, one tin soldier rides away.

  9. As for what the song “means,” perhaps we all — myself included — are trying too hard to find the exact allegory.

    I’m reminded of my favorite “Christian writer,” C.S. Lewis. (Well, actually my favorite is Mathew, but that’s another story.)

    Lewis was an accomplished writer and a great and influential Christian. But I think his precise allegories produced writings that, to me, wound up a little stilted and forced

    Much better literature, in my opinion, came from his good friend and contemporary, J.R.R.Tolkien, who was a Christian and certainly had plenty of Christian ideas in his stuff but was not a slave to the Christian myth (I use “myth” in a non-derogatory sense — I’m a Christian myself).

    I suppose some might say that Tolkien’s work was incorrect theologically speaking. It might even be apostasy. Maybe so. But it communicates, in a loose but effective way, fundamental Christian principles of good, evil and redemption.

    One Tin Soldier has great imagery and message (and is sung well too). I think I’ll leave it at that and not overthink it.

    • Dr. Beaton, you took a relatively obscure AM-Radio hit from the 70’s, and created a pretty thoughtful discussion. Bravo.

      If I might be so bold to suggest the -literally- prophetic “All You Zombies” by The Hooters (1982!): “….all you zombies hide your faces, all you people in the streets..” (2020? Mask, anyone?).

  10. Agreed. Glenn has induced wonderful commentary by way of what a number of us regard as a “cheesy” song.

    And your previous comment nailed it! I am the tin soldier: I was not opposed to our global war on Communism, but I did everything I could (legally) to evade military service during Vietnam. And today I am fiercely opposed to wokeness, but I don’t do much to risk my personal comfort and security in order to fight it. I ride away, shouting over my shoulder.

    • I meant to add that, as a servant of Christ, it’s the same story —

      “I it was denied thee,
      I crucified thee.”

      Almost daily, I ride away.

  11. I understand and appreciate Glenn’s use of the song. (As a side note, with poetry and prose I accept that I will float in and out of understanding.)

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