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#1
Old 03-05-2004, 08:00 AM
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Meaning of the song "One Tin Soldier"

Lyrics here: http://niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/tin.htm

Who wants to explain? Who is the tin man? And how does it relate to Billy Jack?
#2
Old 03-05-2004, 08:56 AM
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I don't know what the tin soldier, per se, represents, but the song's meaning is pretty clear: it's a standard hippie-dippie, anti-war song.

I don't THINK it relates specifically to Billy Jack. I seem to recall that the band Coven had recorded "One Tin Soldier" some time BEFORE the movie was made (which made it ineligible for an Academy Award, btw). Its message of peace fit neatly with the pacifistic message of the film, so it was added to the soundtrack.
#3
Old 03-05-2004, 09:47 AM
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If you like the song you are a tree hugging hippy.

If you don't like the song you are 'the man'. (not in the good way)
#4
Old 03-05-2004, 10:09 AM
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Whoa, man...who is the "one tin soldier"? I never really thought about it before. Heavy.
#5
Old 03-05-2004, 10:40 AM
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Verses
1: Mountain city has a "treasure".
2: Valley demands the treasure and threatens to kill for it.
3: Mountain city agrees to share all the wealth of the mountain.
4: Valley declares war because they want it all, not to share.
5: Genocide of mountain city.
6: Treasure turns out to be a quote from Scripture: "Peace on Earth".

Let he who has ears hear.
#6
Old 03-05-2004, 10:46 AM
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As for the refrain:

Tin soldiers are usually brightly-painted and hollow--just like the victory.
#7
Old 11-17-2011, 03:36 PM
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I think "One Tin Soldier" refers to the valley people as a whole. In my opinion, a "tin soldier" is one who resorts to violence and war simply because it's all they know, understand, or enjoy. So, on the bloody morning after, the valley people, being stung by the power of 3 simple words, realized that they had caused bloodshed for no real reason, hopefully heeding that message. In the movie, Billy Jack was trained to "keep the peace" by resorting to warlike tactics. By the end of the movie, he had realized that there were better ways to reach agreements than violence.
#8
Old 11-17-2011, 03:43 PM
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The "One Tin Soldier is the last remaining human, and now that the zombies themselves are the new dominant culture on the planet, the Tin Soldier is now their boogie-man.
#9
Old 11-17-2011, 03:46 PM
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Jwhammond74, you probably didn't notice that the thread you are adding to has not been active for 7 years...no matter. But is your explanation one you just made up ("I think," "In my opinion"), or do you have some other reliable source?
#10
Old 11-17-2011, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Jwhammond74, you probably didn't notice that the thread you are adding to has not been active for 7 years...no matter. But is your explanation one you just made up ("I think," "In my opinion"), or do you have some other reliable source?
It's a bald restatement of the premise of "I Am Legend" (the novel), actually.

Last edited by jayjay; 11-17-2011 at 04:06 PM.
#11
Old 11-17-2011, 04:13 PM
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We used to sing this every day in music class when I was in about 3rd or 4th grade at a conservative Christian school in Alabama. If I live to be 134 years old I may not remember my name but I'll probably remember the lyrics to that $*@#$ song.

There were lots of covers of it at the time. Cher did a version on her shows at least twice, once with cheesy cartoon.

Anyway, the song is anti-war. The great treasure that they kill for is peace on earth, which the wise enlightened mountain people know is worth dying for and the stupid savage valley people ironically kill for and then don't appreciate.
#12
Old 11-17-2011, 07:26 PM
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I'm pretty sure the song means that I'm going to take this right foot of mine and whop you on that side of your face. And you want to know something? There's not a damn thing you're going to be able to do about it.
#13
Old 11-17-2011, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSarcasticus View Post
Lyrics here: http://niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/tin.htm

Who wants to explain? Who is the tin man? And how does it relate to Billy Jack?
It's an old anti-war song from the 60's - kind of an ironic situation with all these people who die fighting over something that turns out to be a peace message. About the time "Trial of Billy Jack" was released, Guy Chandler did a version of the song called "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)." I think the tie-in is that the song speaks of one soldier who survives all the mayhem, while Billy Jack was a survivor of a different type of mayhem. I saw "Trial of Billy Jack" but I don't think I saw the original "Billy Jack" - and I was only 12 or so at the time, so I don't remember it very well except that it's about the government coming in and messing with people who are just trying to live peacefully.
#14
Old 11-17-2011, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Jwhammond74, you probably didn't notice that the thread you are adding to has not been active for 7 years...no matter. But is your explanation one you just made up ("I think," "In my opinion"), or do you have some other reliable source?
Musicat, you probably didn't notice that the hit-and-run poster who resurrected this thread from the dead hasn't been back since his little one-and-done, and almost certainly won't be, nor did he care that it was 8 years old (even assuming that he noticed the date in the first place). Not really trying to pick on you, but the percentage of such "resurrectors" who actually decide to stay around and at least lurk here for a spell has to be in the single digits.
#15
Old 11-17-2011, 07:50 PM
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Since my response was exactly 10 minutes after his first post, it's kinda hard to tell just how long he might stick around, eh?

Although I get your point, I'm not sure why it matters.
#16
Old 11-17-2011, 08:14 PM
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the mountain people are the dwarf thorin oakenshield's folk. the valley people are the men of dale (actually lake people.) the real treasure is the symbolic friendship between dwarves and the elves (thranduil returns the sword orcrist to thorin) and men (bard lays the arkenstone on thorin's chest.) the tin soldier is bilbo baggins leaving for his home the shire.
#17
Old 11-17-2011, 08:41 PM
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Dude, they killed all the mountain people and found out the treasure was just the words "Peace on Earth". That's far out, man!
#18
Old 11-17-2011, 08:45 PM
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one king (thorin) dead is equal to an entire people killed. even more ironic is the words "peace on earth" personified into a sleeping dragon.
#19
Old 11-17-2011, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
Musicat, you probably didn't notice that the hit-and-run poster who resurrected this thread from the dead hasn't been back since his little one-and-done, and almost certainly won't be, nor did he care that it was 8 years old (even assuming that he noticed the date in the first place). Not really trying to pick on you, but the percentage of such "resurrectors" who actually decide to stay around and at least lurk here for a spell has to be in the single digits.
I think we can blame Google. At least I'm in the mood to.
#20
Old 11-17-2011, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post
I think we can blame Google. At least I'm in the mood to.
But... but... Don't be evil!
#21
Old 11-17-2011, 10:17 PM
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Like Dogface, I always assumed the tin soldier was representing the victory. A cheap toy to stand in for a cheap win. I see that others on the internet draw parallels between the Tin Man of Oz lacking a heart and the tin soldier representing the loss of the valley people's compassion. The rest of the song seems pretty self-explanatory.
#22
Old 11-18-2011, 09:15 AM
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The song was first recorded by Coven in 1969; the movie Billy Jack came out in 1971.

Like "IIIIIII Will Alwaya Love YYY YOOOOUUUU," people think the song was written for the movie. It wasn't....

and here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
#23
Old 11-18-2011, 10:33 AM
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Heh, when I was a kid I always thought the mountain people were idiots. Why did they go on about a mysterious "treasure" in the first place?
#24
Old 11-18-2011, 11:04 AM
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To me the best thing about the song (apart from being catchy) is the ambiguity of the tin soldier image. I'm not sure the writer intended it, but that's the way it ended up.

The tin soldier could be:
--A contemptible final-survivor warmonger leaving the scene of pointless carnage. (And that's probably the correct answer.)
--An unknown character departing a create a better world.

Someone upstream mentioned a possible Tinman of Oz reference, but I don't see it. He fought it various conflicts in Oz but wasn't called a tin soldier.

The more famous literary tin soldier was in the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Steadfast Tin Soldier, and the song adapted from it. (Recorded by Donovan, among others.) But if there's a connection there I can't see it.

Last edited by Baal Houtham; 11-18-2011 at 11:04 AM.
#25
Old 11-19-2011, 12:43 AM
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Never figured it out exactly myself... but I'll take a shot...

The tin soldier is a loner, alienated from the others, present at the the carnage but powerless to prevent it. The bloody morning after, the tin solider finds that there really were no survivors of the massacre. The mountain people are dead, and the valley people have shown that they're spiritually dead.

The tin soldier is now certain that there's nothing for him here... so it's time to move on.
#26
Old 11-19-2011, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
Heh, when I was a kid I always thought the mountain people were idiots. Why did they go on about a mysterious "treasure" in the first place?

To boast of your strength is to make it your weakness. (Groo the Wanderer)
#27
Old 11-19-2011, 01:25 AM
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I, too, never really thought about the identy of the One Tin Soldier. I guess I never thought he mattered that much to the message.

I always interpreted this song as a metaphor for the clash of Europeans with Native Americans. In the beginning, the Native Americans were happy to share the wealth of the continent with the Europeans, but the Europeans would not be satisfied with anything less than owning everything. That's how I always thought it tied into Billy Jack, as well.
#28
Old 11-19-2011, 01:36 AM
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Interesting bit of trivia: The bass player for coven was named Oz Osbourne. No relation to the more famous Prince of Darkness.
#29
Old 11-19-2011, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra View Post
To boast of your strength is to make it your weakness. (Groo the Wanderer)
Until you master your rage, your rage will become your master. (The Sphinx)
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